Reflections on Build Peace 2015 (by Dan Marsh)

Starting a blog is often the point I dread the most and this time is no exception. Not because of not knowing what to write; Build Peace showcased so many good ideas, shared without fear in a spectacular setting with such a positive energy; but because adding a full stop to that unbounded creativity and energy seems totally wrong. So with my colleagues at International Alert, I intend to keep that energy flowing, by talking to anyone who will listen about why technology for peacebuilding is so exciting and something we all need to work on together.

Working together is hugely important – the Build Peace Database is a great start to this and something I hope to contribute to even more, perhaps creating something like an ‘app store for peace tech’. The more we are able to share our successes, our knowledge, our code and data where appropriate, the more effort can go into the peacebuilding work and the greater our combined impact.

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Build Peace 2015: Where to from here? (by Jennifer Easterday)

We’ve finally had a moment to collect our thoughts after a stimulating weekend in Cyprus at the Build Peace 2015 conference. We were blown away by the enthusiasm of conference participants and the wealth of expertise and ideas being shared! We were also left with a number of burning questions…

Where are all the programmers? Many conference participants highlighted similar challenges to using technology in peacebuilding. Some of these include needing to decide between targeting “low-level” versus “high-level” technology (e.g., feature vs. smartphones), how to process and manage large quantities of data and avoid fragmentation and how to seamlessly reach all of the different devices out there.

These challenges can be addressed by utilizing open technologies like Firefox OS and proven solutions to process big data that are already successful in the private sector. Governments and organizations around the world are discovering the benefits of using open data and are developing insights on how to use this data for good. Open data should be ubiquitous in peace tech, so that organizations around the world can build on it. Also, the Internet of Things is making a big splash in the tech scene, and we believe that it could contribute meaningfully to peacebuilding.

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Thoughts from the Bureau of International Crisis (by Zineb Boustil)

The Bureau of International Crisis was proud to be part of this international conference and happy to share its ideas about the use of new technologies in the peacebuilding field. Since we created the Bureau in March 2015, the conference was our first international meeting. We took this opportunity to officially start our activities and present our organization of crisis resolution to the peacebuilding community. The welcome was amazing and now we feel stronger and more confident.

The chance we had to share our work was more than just a presence in a conference. It was our privilege to be able to travel to Cyprus and have those moments of sharing. Build Peace should not be about us, about those who were present but more about all the peacemakers living in conflicted regions who had not even had the chance to hear about the conference. This is a real issue, how to make people living a crisis part of their own peacebuilding processes?

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What I learned and thought about during Build Peace (by Ali Gohar)

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In today’s globalized world, one cannot live without technology.

The recent Build Peace conference that focused on “peace through technology” was an excellent opportunity to realize just how important the role technology is when it comes to peacebuilding.

Since 2003, I have been working in the peace building sector where my primary area of expertise has been working in indigenous means of conflict transformation on the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Web-based Tooling for Inclusion and Empowerment in the Peacebuilding Process (by Jennifer Easterday)

*This post was originally published on the JustPeace Labs blog here*

There is an increasingly well-recognized and vivid need among peacebuilders for increased access to technological tools that can advance their efforts. However, peacebuilders across sectors are confronted by resource, time, and capacity constraints that often make it difficult or impossible to efficiently use technological tools in their program design, implementation, and analysis. Additional challenges to peacebuilding more generally include creating programs that are context-relevant, inclusive, broadly accessible, and which have widespread participation from affected communities. There are also challenges specific to using technology in conflict and post-conflict contexts, such as weakened or destroyed mobile infrastructures, legal restrictions, insecure environments, and ethical considerations.

JustPeace Labs addresses these challenges by offering peacebuilders a robust, user-friendly online development platform for creating targeted mobile applications.

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Behaviour change and empowerment at #buildpeace (by Jen Welch)

A while ago we published a post that outlined the themes for Build Peace 2015. By engaging with three sub-themes: empowerment, behaviour change and impact, the conference will explore how the use of technology is resulting in the creation of alternative infrastructures for peace. After spending months talking to participants and speakers, getting ready for the main event, we thought we’d share some reflections on how it all fits together, and how some of the broader questions have evolved since Build Peace 2014 as speakers and panelists prepare their contributions.

One that has come up a few times is on the difference and relationship between empowerment and behaviour change, when we talk about technology to help build peace. So in the rest of this post, I will lay out some thoughts, hoping to generate debates and discussions that can be examined more deeply at conference.

What do we mean by ‘behaviour change’?

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Border Lives (by Conor Mc Gale)

Border Lives is a Oral History/storytelling project that successfully utilized ethical storytelling principles & new technologies to capture the experiences of people living along the border region of Northern Ireland, home to one of the most deeply entrenched conflicts in western European history.

Funded by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme, it has produced six short films capturing people’s lives and experiences along the border region of Northern Ireland, from the Troubles to the present day.

The project aims to ensure that these stories are captured, replicated, and shared in innovative ways that are accessible to both new and wider audiences locally, regionally, and internationally.

Each of the six films focuses on a different location along the border and gathers a breadth of perspectives and stories from local people. 40 public events were also held highlighting the project and its work.

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Together Separate: exploring the choreography of contesting space (by Roseline de Thelin and Jason Meek)

We invite all conference participants to join us for one or more interactive community art events using expressive arts inquiry, a process-oriented method of facilitation and action research that encourages and supports people to gain fresh perspective about conflict and other disorienting dilemmas through movement, creative expression, and embodied experience. Come and explore your relationship to object, space, culture, and identity in new, insightful, and invigorating ways that everyone can do and enjoy. We will share techniques that you can easily adapt and apply in the field across cultures and contexts.

Register by April 23 to participate in our community art events!

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The song remains the same (by Luis Puig)

[Prologue: “Songs my father taught me” by Helena Puig Larrauri

Luis Puig is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Valencia, an avid gardener, and a keen blogger. He’s also my dad, and perhaps, above all these, his real passion has always been music. With years of experience curating his own refined collection, we asked him to put together a mixtape of songs about peace for the Build Peace 2015 conference. What he dug up were mainly songs about war. In this blog post, he reflects on what that means for peacebuilding. In many ways, this music represents the sensibility and values of the 1968 generation, filtered through a love of vinyl and the particular experience of anti-fascist activism in Spain. His musical taste and his values have informed much of what I do. We may go from vinyl to cd to digital and back to vinyl again; while the tech may change, the values of non-violent activism remain.]

 

Build Peace 2015 Tape by Luis Puig on Mixcloud

What is the point of war?

Edwin Starr shouts it loud and clear: “War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!”
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Going digital with the Peace Superheroes (by Marianne Perez de Fransius, Meg Villanueva and Sabrina Patrick-Urrutia)

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A group of 9 and 10-year olds were playing in the park.

One of the younger boys had climbed pretty high up on the jungle gym and was trying to show off by making it look like he was going to jump from so high up.

He hadn’t anticipated though that the kids on the ground would start egging him on. “Come on Johnny! Show us if you really are that brave! You’ve gotta jump! Come on!”

Johnny was stuck: if he jumped, he ran a serious risk of injuring himself; if he didn’t, he faced near certain ridicule of the kind only middle schoolers can dish out. “You look sooo scared Johnny! Ha!” And in response to that unbearable truth Johnny jumped the two meters, twisting his ankle, but saving his pride.

In witnessing this banal playground conflict, Marianne Perez de Fransius saw many opportunities for how this bullying incident could have been peacefully transformed.

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