How to Contextualize Digital Tools for Peacebuilding?
Digital innovation requires peacebuilding organizations to adapt to new opportunities and challenges. Academic literature and several donors claim that peacebuilding could be more successful if it integrates more digital tools.
Possible applications range from SMS and WhatsApp to Social Media, and from using satellite images to predictive tools. Due to the sensitive nature of peacebuilding integrating favored digital tools needs to adjust them to the specific local and conflict conditions.
What does it need to adopt an App for combatting hate speech to a specific conflict –context?
How can virtual reality tools support the work of human rights defenders?
Which human, technical and financial capacities do partnerships require to create mutual benefits between digital expertise, peacebuilding needs and local knowledge?
Key Theses, Thoughts and Ideas
Tool the tools – don’t let them tool you. Peacebuilding goals have to define if digital tools are an appropriate method. ‘Digital by default’ across conflict contexts can actually cause harm to peacebuilding efforts and peace actors. Digital tools might have a global set up but to be effective for peacebuilding they have to be localized, for instance regarding local expertise for context analysis, for identifying linguistic-cultural patterns and safety challenges for those who use it. In many conflict regions the access to infrastructure and the availability of hardware is limiting how far one can go responsibly with digital tools. Unequal access to the Internet or cell phones can increase division between hostile groups and exclude especially marginalized groups even more.
Thanks to big data and high tech tools human rights violations can be proven even in contexts with limited digital infrastructure on the ground.