Around 200 people gather annually at the Build Peace conferences
Participants come from more than 60 different countries, working in national and international NGOs, the UN system, academic institutions, civil society organisations, grassroots organizing and the private sector.
Build Peace conferences are brought to you by Build Up, a social enterprise that works to amplify citizen participation in peace. The conference has to date been held in Boston (2014, hosted by the MIT Media Lab), Nicosia (2015, hosted by UNDP) and Zürich (2016, hosted by the ICT4Peace Foundation at ETH Zürich).
We believe that the conference is defining new pathways to build peace, using technology, arts and research as critical tools, entry points or frameworks. Past conferences have served as catalysts for new projects and partnerships. Our partners and participants regularly express their appreciation for the conference as a venue for both discussion and networking.
Our inquiries build upon one another from year to year
In 2014, we were concerned with mapping the functions of technology in peacebuilding, to understand the scope and scale of the field. In 2015, we asked deep questions about who the work was for, why it worked and when didn’t, and what the potential impacts could be. We also began to ask if our framework could include other tools, those of arts and research, which intersect with technology in their ability to transform how citizens engage in peacebuilding. In 2016, we delved into the transformative potential – how we can begin to use these three innovative domains (technology, arts, and research) to build peace.
Each conference builds on the last, drawing inspiration from past conversations, current events, and groundbreaking ideas developed and deployed on the ground. We shift and experiment with the conference structure to find the best way to share ideas and amplify unheard voices. We use a variety of tools, from keynote speeches to short talks, dialogues to round-table discussions, several different workshop formats, an Unconference to give participants space to explore ideas further, and a hackathon to connect practitioners to developers.
During conferences and among the community throughout the year, we are humbled by the candid approach of practitioners, policy-makers, academics, technologists, activists, and artists alike. Conversations range from measuring polarization, to capturing voices from the Rwanda tribunal; from hacking the border in the Dominican Republic to designing the constitution in Egypt; from teaching activist power in a video game, to building peace villages on Minecraft.
Build Peace 2014 (Boston, USA)
Over 250 people from more than 30 countries attended Build Peace 2014. Participants came from national and international NGOs, the UN system, academic institutions and the private sector. The conference had four broad lines of inquiry, each representing a function technology can play in peacebuilding: information, communications, gaming and networking. Panels and working sessions were also structured around the three stages of peacebuilding programming: conflict analysis, program design and impact evaluation.
Build Peace 2015 (Nicosia, Cyprus)
Nicosia is the last divided capital in Europe, and served as an immersive experience for the 250 participants from 60 different countries who met in venues in both the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot communities across the city. The conference was organized around one key inquiry: how is the use of technology resulting in the creation of alternative infrastructures for peace? From this flowed three sub-themes: empowerment (who is empowered, by whom and how?), behavior change (and empowered to do what?), and impact (what are the actual or possible impacts of using technologies for peacebuilding?). This year for the first time we also invited a number of artists to explore the intersection of technology, art and peace.
Build Peace 2016 (Zürich, Switzerland)
ETH Zurich hosted 200 peacebuilders from 40 different countries who came together to answer how we can use technology, arts and research, toward transformation. The inquiry fell into three broad themes. Political: A central question for many peacebuilders is the extent to which their work can enter politics or must remain impartial. Technology and arts affect political spaces, making this question all the more prescient for Build Peace. Socio-cultural: Creating a critical mass for peace requires shifts across a society. How can the behaviors and cultural manifestations of individuals and groups be transformed to support a new network of relationships on which peace can be built? Ethics: Whether we engage in political or socio-cultural transformation to build peace, there are a set of values that guide how we go about our work. What are the ethics of transformation through technology, arts and research?