Post-conflict environments are faced with significant challenges – thus co-ordination and appropriate flow of information become paramount as the transformation to peace progresses.
Successful use of Information & Communications Technologies (ICTs) can act as an enabler in such circumstances as well as supporting secondary roles such as nation building and reconciliation efforts.
Strategic and optimal use of technology is critical, especially in resource constrained post-conflict scenarios. However, there appears to be little emphasis on the use of ICTs for strengthening post-conflict states – a situation that is nonetheless changing given the role of ICTs in everyday life.
Post-conflict scenarios present a significant challenge for humanity. Decades of peace-building experience has shown that the development of strong and representative state institutions are key to ensuring that post-conflict scenarios do not revert back to war.
The role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in this process has not yet matured, although at a granular level, the use of ICTs for administrative and economic objectives within post-conflict countries has been well researched.
A knowledge gap exists however in utilisation of ICTs for political, judicial and security purposes as part of the peacebuilding process.
This chapter will examine the peacebuilding process, the role of ICTs within that as well as humbly present a way forward to address current shortcomings at the nexus of ICTs and peacebuilding.
The Peacebuilding Process
An immediate task in post-conflict scenarios is the development of an operational state, so called task of peacebuilding.
This approach places an emphasis on well-functioning and legitimate state institutions, thus reducing the risk of renewed fighting in post-conflict context. This is critical as scholars note that approximately 33% of post-conflict countries tend to revert back to war within a five-year period.
During this critical phase, the adequate functioning of the key roles of the state become significant – amongst them institutions of law and order (national police), organs of state related to decision-making (parliament) and mechanisms to foster economic recovery and developing of critical infrastructure.
Successful peacebuilding is accompanied by provision of services, while creating a platform for the population to communicate with the organs of power. This for example can occur through direct communication between previous belligerents as well as governmental engagement with the populace – creating the space for people to resolve conflicts non-violently.
Note the key emphasis above on strategy, institution building and coordination of all actors that are involved in the post-conflict scenario. This aims to minimise what are commonly cited as leading causes of failure in peacebuilding, chiefly:
- Simplified analysis of a conflict;
- Poor planning and lack of coordination;
- A rush towards elections and democratisation;
- Lack of local voices forming an input into the peacebuilding process; and
- Violent response as a means to impose peace in post-conflict scenarios.
To minimise risk of failure in peacebuilding, practitioners are increasingly turning towards developing standardised models and methodologies to help accelerate the peacebuilding process – predetermining the criticality and priority of activities that should occur in such contexts.
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Cover Image Credit: Carl Montgomery