Using New Technologies to Mitigate and Prevent Global Conflict

Conflict resolution usually addresses an issue after it has already escalated. Conflict prevention attempts to resolve or at least contain the dispute before it becomes violent. Peace builders try to get to the root cause of conflict and establish techniques for durable peace and prevent the further outbreak of violence. Communication is key in many conflict resolution initiatives. With the emergence of social media and mobile devices in developing countries, information is more easily gathered and made actionable. These tools greatly affect the fields of peace building and conflict resolution

Local drivers like gender violence, interethnic and interreligious tensions and land disputes are usually at the heart of conflicts. Corruption and authoritarian regimes play on these drivers. Using innovative technology to address these underlying causes helps prevent conflicts before they get started.

Mitigating Emerging Conflicts

As the price of technology decreases, poorer communities and countries are able to take advantage of these resources. These tools allow individuals to improve their lives by managing commerce, advocate for their own interests, seeking emergency help and even take part in the prevention of violence. Peace builders are using these tools to collect and monitor local information and respond to text messages. Local peacekeepers can then intervene and mitigate any emerging conflicts. Social media, mobile phones and internet-based resources are being used to send out warnings about potential violence facilitating quicker responses.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or money from a crowd of people usually using an online platform. In conflict prevention, resolution and peace building, crowdsourcing is used to collect specific information from a crowd of people. This information related to targeted topics or issues and geographically maps it. This information can even be compiled into an infographic. This resource was used in 2008 during the post-election violence in Kenya to alert authorities to outbreaks of violence. It was also used to alert rescuers and relief workers to the location of survivors after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Information and Communication Technologies

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a general term that refers to communication devices or applications. These can include radios, cell phones, computer networks and televisions. ICTs are being used to collect data at an astonishing rate. ICTs are helping civil society organizations, governments and international actors address the root causes of violence. Through the collection of data, organizations and peace builders can better determine the root causes and various drivers of violence.

ICTs can also be used as a means of communication. The outbreak of violence is often due to lack of information. Too little information about the intentions of a potentially competing group can lead to conflict. Teaching people and empowering them to use technologies such as mobile phones and social media to defuse violence is important. Leveraging these tools and their increase appearance in developing, conflict-stricken regions of the world could overthrow hate and point the world in the direction of peace.

There are many technological tools at the disposal of peace-seeking organizations. These tools help mitigate conflicts, gather vital data and open lines of communication. Peace builders, governments and civil society organizations are able to take advantage of these resources like never before.

Maureen@techsophist.net'