Digital Pathways for Peace

Peace Direct

Created 10/30/2020

Analysis, Monitoring


Digital technologies – electronic tools, software, platforms, systems and devices that help generate, store and/or transfer data – are playing an increasingly vital role in advancing peacebuilding activities around the world. Technological innovation has been a powerful democratising force which has opened new avenues and spaces for civic participation and collective action, empowering marginalised voices and enhancing local accountability. Moreover, increased connectivity has led to the development of powerful online communities, who are reshaping the social contract between state and citizenry and are providing key opportunities to build more inclusive and equitable societies.

At the same time, these same technologies are being employed by autocratic states and conflict actors for sophisticated methods of censorship, surveillance and dis/misinformation, which are creating new divisions and inciting violence that can manifest itself offline. Hate speech, recruitment for terrorism, fake news, disinformation campaigns, privacy breaches, and other challenges to peaceful societies are increasingly dominating political and media narratives, reinforcing popular perceptions of technology as untrustworthy and dangerous. This has also led to unhelpful or harmful legislation and regulation around the use of technology that are further exacerbating existing ‘digital divides’ and inhibiting the rights and freedoms of individual users and civil society actors.

In response to these dynamics, the use of technology for peace, otherwise known as ‘peacetech’, has grown in prominence over the last decade and has generated innovative techbased solutions to tackle drivers of conflict and insecurity. In effect, digital technologies provide peacebuilders with user-friendly, efficient and scalable tools that not only improve programming and communications, but can also create alternative infrastructures for peace – challenging dominant conflict narratives and fostering positive communication and social cohesion between conflict groups. Yet despite this progress and growing interest from policymakers and donors, many questions remain and are still being debated around the strategic use of tech for peace.

As peacebuilders place more importance on the use of digital technologies to sustain peacebuilding work in this midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, outstanding questions on how to best capitalise on the opportunities for peace that digital technologies provide require further insight and knowledge-sharing.

This report presents the findings of a global online consultation Peace Direct held with peacebuilding practitioners and academics who employ digital technologies in their work. The purpose of this exchange was to unpack different local perspectives on the role that technology plays in peacebuilding, to share learnings, experiences and effective tech-based peacebuilding approaches, and to contribute to policy and practice discussions around the effective use of technology for peace. The result was a robust discussion that sheds further light on the intersection between technology and peacebuilding, and demonstrates the adaptive and inventive ways that peacebuilders continue to prevent and resolve conflict – both online and offline.

Executive summary

Full report 

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