Positive role of ICTs in mitigating conflict conditions

ICTs can play a positive enabling role in mitigating conditions of conflict, but they must be integrated deeply within locally existing social-institutional cultural structures

Kenya – embedded in community based “peace networks”
Guatemala – within different institutions engaged in gender-based violence
Kosovo – within the community policing department
Key learning: ICTs on their own (for example, a standalone App) can do nothing, unless and until they become an integrated and an integral component of a larger heterogeneous socio-technical- institutional network collectively engaged in peace building efforts.


ICTs can play multiple enabling roles

ICTs can play different enabling roles in varying contexts for conflict mitigation, such as:

  • Enhance anonymity of citizens, which gives them build confidence to report on potential conflict situations (example, Kenya)
  • Information provides the glue to link and share information across different (and conflicting) groups, helping to build shared understanding of the issues and how they may be resolved (example, Kenya)
  • Creates visibility of information of the conflict situation that promotes accountability of decision makers to take peace building actions (example, Kenya)
  • Integration of relevant information in one point, helps enabling initiating conversations/dialogues between multiple entities engaged in peace building efforts, providing a basis for creating and monitoring coordinated actions (example, Guatemala)
  • Use of ICTs by the state for the perceived good of citizens can help to build trust of citizens towards the state, a key ingredient for peace building efforts (eg. Kosovo)

Key learning: Need to understand what specific roles ICTs can play in peace building efforts in different socio-institutional contexts, and design and implement them accordingly.

1.3. Making ICTs work is an intensive, long-term effort
Contexts of conflicts are fragile, and intensive and continuous efforts are needed to make ICTs work in these settings:

Long-term efforts (of many years) rather than short and adhoc project-based initiatives are needed for ICTs to be effective (eg: Kenya, dedicated efforts ongoing over a decade).
There needs to be dedicated support group to ensure ICTs are working and continuously being enhanced and adapted to changing informational needs (eg. Kenya)
It is important to make use of current and state of art developments in ICTs, to help provide required enabling functionalities for supporting peace building efforts (eg: Android use in Kosovo and visualization dashboards in Guatemala)
To address key challenges of sustainability and scalability of the ICT application, dedicated institutional ownership and supporting resources are required.
Key learning: ICTs don’t work on their own, dedicated support structures, institutional ownership and adequate financial and technical resources need to be provisioned.


Non-traditional research methods 

Researching ICTs in conflict settings requires research methods which are unique and different from traditional settings, such as:

  • They must be driven by local actors who have a stake in creating conditions of peace (example, Kenya)
  • Bringing in the victims of violence into the peace building efforts provides for building sensitive and grounded understanding of the issues (example, the use of “life story” methodology in Guatemala)
  • Building anthropologically grounded understandings of the issues are important to get into the “why” of conflicts (example, use of the “life story” methods in Guatemala
  • Need for strongly defined ethical frameworks to ensure the voices of the locals are heard and meaningfully acted upon (example, Guatemala and Kenya)

Key learning: Need to build anthropologically informed understandings of the research issues within strong ethical frameworks of conducting research.