In January 2019, the CCDP launched a new research project that explores how digital technologies can contribute to enhancing inclusion in peace processes. In the past years, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have increasingly been used by mediators and mediation support actors. These digital technologies provide new opportunities for participation in peace processes, for instance through social media, online surveys or text-messaging applications. This changes the patterns and dynamics of inclusion – who participates, how and with what voice.
The project aims to enable the mediation support community to effectively use ICTs to enhance inclusion in peace processes. It will contribute to a better understanding of the potential of digital technologies to facilitate the participation of actors beyond the principal negotiation parties. Moreover, it will explore the benefits, purposes, and risks of ICT use and will produce practical guidance for mediators and mediation support actors. The project proposal was originally developed by the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (IPTI). It is funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and will run for one year.
The project is composed of three main activities. The project team will first analyze how mediators and mediation support actors use digital technologies in order to complement conventional efforts to promote inclusion. In particular, it will analyze how ICTs are used to facilitate communication between conflict stakeholders within the digital sphere, and between digital and conventional mediation formats across peacemaking tracks 1-3. The team will also account for the factors that enable and constrain the effectiveness of ICTs to create links across the tracks.
In a second step, the project team will conduct a review of ICT use in adjacent professional fields, such as development cooperation and humanitarian aid, in order to distill effective practices for digital inclusion in peacemaking. In particular, the project will explore how digital technologies can be used to strengthen communication and collaboration among conflict stakeholders across different levels of authority and influence, comparable to peacemaking tracks 1-3. The team will also shed light on the risks and unintended consequences of ICTs, such as the emergence of new patterns of exclusion and political polarization.
Finally, the project will develop learning and guidance resources. Based on the results of the two preceding activities, it will develop digital process designs, which present options for the use of ICTs to enhance inclusion in several peacemaking scenarios. These process designs will be co-created through a participatory online process, involving mediators, mediation support actors, and peace process researchers.