Please view this site in landscape mode.

PastedGraphic-1

Excerpt from the Build Peace 2016 website. The conference will take place at ETH Zurich on September 9 - 11, 2016 in Zürich, Switzerland. Check out details here.

If you are thinking of attending the conference, we strongly recommend you buy your tickets soon, since in past years we have sold out well in advance. 

###

Peacebuilding is fundamentally about change, and most discussions about peacebuilding are really about how to change less than ideal situations into slightly better ones. Over time, answers to these questions have increasingly recognised that conflict might in fact contribute to positive political, cultural and societal processes. The change needed no longer revolves around resolving or managing conflict, but rather transforming it away from violence and destruction towards constructive change.

This perspective sees the different spheres of politics, culture and society as closely linked in conflict contexts and the potential subjects to such transformations. So while we explored whether there was a role for technology in peacebuilding in 2014, focusing more specifically on who and how in 2015, we propose to tackle the change question head on at Build Peace 2016 by asking why we use technology to build peace. What are we trying to change, and what can technology affect in these processes?

To cover the key facets of these complex questions, we identify three areas of enquiry as starting points to continue our discussion on how technology can contribute to building peace.

  • Political transformation Discussions on the role of technology in political processes have often focused on resistance – how activists mobilise against oppressive regimes (we heard from Dalia Haj-Omar and her experience in Sudan last year), for example. We propose to extend this conversation to explore whether and how technology can support wider inclusion in and engagement with political processes in peacebuilding. Does technology provide new avenues to engage with or challenge Track 1 negotiation processes? Or does it lead to alternative (or complementary) peace efforts, independent of political and institutional support? Can technologies closely associated with political processes be trusted in fragile or rapidly changing peacebuilding environments?
  • Socio-cultural transformation From current project data we know that the bulk of work that uses technology for peacebuilding focuses on mobilisation and engagement, with the aim of changing behaviours. But in order to contribute to peace, these transformations require reaching a certain critical mass. So what role can technology play in changing behaviours and cultural manifestations? And can technology facilitate processes to build this critical mass? And can it help us know when a critical mass has been reached?
  • Ethics Finally whether we are engaged in political or socio-cultural transformation, there are always values that guide how we go about this work. But technology brings about specific considerations. What ethical challenges does technology highlight in peacetech? What are the ‘side effects’ of using technology in peacebuilding and do they outweigh perceived benefits? How do we avoid the ‘white saviour industrial complex’ and the perpetuation of dominant power structures? Does the sourcing of the technologies we use matter? What values should guide a peacetech industry that seeks to constructively transform society?