This CCDP Working Paper, written by Dr Andreas Hirblinger, provides a comprehensive perspective on digital inclusion in peacemaking, developed in the course of the year-long “Designing Digital Inclusion in Peacemaking Project”, funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
The paper develops a strategic approach to digital inclusion. Drawing on the author’s earlier academic research, digital inclusion can serve various strategic purposes, such as strengthening the legitimacy of peace processes and their outcomes, empowering marginalized and vulnerable groups, transforming community relationships, or reducing threats or risks to a peace process.
The paper also provides important reflections on how we can and should understand digital inclusion, namely that the voice of conflict stakeholders is integrated into a peace process in the form of digital data. “Voice” can be understood as various kinds of information that are expressed – intentionally – by the conflict party or stakeholder in an attempt to change an objectionable state of affairs.
Based on these reflections, the paper presents a conceptual framework for digital inclusion that helps us to understand how digital technologies can contribute to any of these strategic purposes by delivering specific functions and outputs.
Drawing on this framework, the report presents specific use cases, which were designed during a participatory online course that formed part of this project.
The findings of this CCDP Working Paper highlight that further research is needed to better understand the effects of digitalization on peace processes. As the author makes clear, research in this field needs to carefully balance the concerns and interest of both the practitioner and academic worlds – developing comprehensive perspectives while looking at more specific questions, cases, and applications.
At the CCDP, we are committed to consolidating our research agenda on this topic. Since the beginning of this year, Dr Hirblinger’s newest research digs deeper into more specific aspects, such as the opportunities and challenges of employing Artificial Intelligence in machine-supported conflict analysis.
Another project (Mediating Machines? Opportunities and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence in Peacemaking) explores how digital technologies help or hinder dealing with uncertainty in peace processes. Through strong partnerships with mediation practitioners, we thus seek to contribute to the development of theoretically-grounded and empirically-informed perspectives on how digitalization impacts peace processes. This paper is a first and important milestone.
Text adapted from the CCDP Working Paper 14, Preface.