Technology for Peacebuilding1

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Authors: Anne Kahl and Helena Puig Larrauri
Date: Nov. 22, 2013
From: Stability: International Journal of Security and Development(Vol. 2, Issue 3)
Publisher: Ubiquity Press Ltd.
Document Type: Essay
Length: 7,208 words

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Author(s): Anne Kahl [1]; Helena Puig Larrauri [2]

New technologies are changing how and when we learn about events and choose to respond to them. Mobile phones and the internet have altered how we engage with the world. With technology usage expanding rapidly in the developing world, new avenues of participation, engagement, and accountability are emerging. Globally, more people now have the opportunity to actively participate and make use of these tools to impact processes that affect their societies.

This opportunity for participation is also an opportunity for engaging in new ways with peacebuilding processes. We have chosen to define peacebuilding as the process of transforming conflict dynamics by influencing behavior and attitudes through inclusive dialogue and interaction. Minimizing the risk of an outbreak of violent conflict requires a mix of operational, structural, and systemic measures that seek to build national capacities to manage, prevent, and address conflicts and their underlying dynamics and root causes (Lederach 1997; Kumar & de la Haye 2011). Key features of technology, both new and older, promise to make efforts in peacebuilding more effective.

As the field of technology for peacebuilding grows, most attention has been paid to the potential of new technologies for bridging the gap between warning and response (Mancini 2013: iv). In initiatives aiming to prevent the outbreak or escalation of violent conflict, new technologies can allow people to report and react more rapidly. Citizens can also use technology tools to engage and connect at the local level to mitigate conflict or call upon decision-makers at regional and national levels if larger interventions are required to sustain peace.

Whilst the focus on the use of technology for early warning and response is important, there is more to this growing field. The empowerment of people to participate in localized conflict management efforts is one of the most significant innovations and opportunities created by new technologies. Technology can contribute to peacebuilding processes by offering tools that foster collaboration, transform attitudes, and give a stronger voice to communities. In order to better understand how new technologies can contribute to peacebuilding, it is useful to clarify the functions that new technologies can perform in conflict prevention and peacebuilding projects that go beyond early warning and response programs.

In exploring the application of technology to peacebuilding, it is important to keep in mind that technologies are not neutral. The Do No Harm framework (CSC 2012) provides a useful guide for practitioners to assess the risks of introducing technology into peacebuilding programing. As enablers and connectors , technologies can be used as important transformative tools for enhancing sustainable human development and preventing violent conflict. But technologies can also become dividers in a conflict context. Each initiative should undertake its own context-specific 'do no harm' assessment, but here are the main issues to watch out for in our view:

The bias of connectivity : Technology tools are often seen as a means for reaching out to more people, but not everyone has equal access to all types of technology. Practitioners must...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Kahl, Anne, and Helena Puig Larrauri. "Technology for Peacebuilding1." Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, vol. 2, no. 3, 2013. Accessed 12 May 2021.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A507610459