We develop think-pieces, conduct research and provide policy recommendation on opportunities to use digital technologies for peace. We explore emergent challenges to peace in the digital age.

 

Trends in Peacetech

Emerging Trends in Peacetech
We are constantly exploring emerging trends in the field of peacetech. At the moment, we are thinking about the role of artificial intelligence in peacebuilding and whether there is a space for blockchain in peacebuilding.

Peace Engineering
Build Up recognizes and appreciates the emergence of peace engineering as an important new orientation towards engineering. While we do not believe it is a stand alone discipline, we do believe that the opportunity to bring the peacebuilding lens to engineering disciplines is essential given the important technical role that engineering can play in peacebuilding solutions. In other words, we believe that while you cannot “engineer peace” you can engineer more peacefully, and in ways that compliment peacebuilding efforts. It is with this in mind that we have begun playing an active role in the development of the peace engineering concept, working with Drexel University, University of San Diego, Arizona State University, Juniata College and others to explore what peace engineering looks like in practice.

Opportunities for Innovation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories
In 2019, Build Up collaborated with swisspeace to explore innovation opportunities for the Swiss cooperation program in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. We conducted a document review and field research to identify innovative approaches within the Swiss Rule of Law and Conflict Prevention portfolio, as well as opportunities to scale up innovation across all three areas of technology for peacebuilding: data management; strategic communications and networking and dialogue.

Innovation in Social Cohesion in Yemen
In partnership with the British Council, Build Up wrote an internal scoping study on strategic uses of technology to build social cohesion in Yemen in 2019.

Innovative Peacebuilding in Syria
In partnership with the British Council, Build Up wrote an initial scoping study of the strategic use of technology to build peace in the Syrian context in 2016 (also available in Arabic.). This study was updated in 2018 in order to reflect both contextual changes in the Syrian conflict, and lessons learned from the Digital Steps programme, run by Build and the British Council. The second report identifies both changes and continuities in the peacetech landscape in Syria, and presents the most pressing considerations for innovative peacebuilding in Syria moving forward.

Entry Points for Peacebuilding in E-Governance in Ukraine
The Innovabridge Foundation commissioned Build Up to explore entry points for strengthening the peacebuilding contribution of the E-Governance for Accountability and Participation (EGAP) program in Ukraine. The options paper developed by Build Up fed into the new strategy for the program.

Whole-of-Society Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding
The London School of Economics, with funding from the European Commission, is conducting research into the EU’s conflict prevention work. As part of this research project, Build Up leads the assessment of and recommendations for innovative and appropriate use of ICTs within conflict prevention and peacebuilding, with a particular emphasis on the EU’s role in relation to ICTs. The final publication, ICTs & EU civilian peacebuilding: Reflections on good practices, opportunities and challenges published in February 2017, builds on the practical challenges of and opportunities for operationalising peacetech identified in an initial scoping study, and highlights a range of good practices from two case studies: SMS-based programming by Sisi ni Amani in Kenya and the use of video game Peace Park in Georgia by Elva.

Peacekeepers in the Sky
Build Up co-founder Helena Puig Larrauri collaborated with Patrick Meier to produce a paper on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by peacekeeping operations. The paper was published by the ICT 4 Peace Foundation.

New Technologies: The Future of Alternative Infrastructures for Peace
This paper written by the Build Up team is part of the Geneva Platform for Peace’s White Paper Series, a collection of input documents for the White Paper on Peacebuilding. The paper explores the processes that are being set in motion in the peacebuilding space by this technological growth.

Building on Open Data and Information Technologies: The Future of Resources, Narratives and Collective Intelligence for Development
Build Up Co-Directors Helena Puig Larrauri and Rodrigo Davies outlined their vision on the future of development assistance in this essay that was one of the winners of the Next Horizons Essay Contest 2014, which was held by the Global Development Network in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Early Warning & Early Response in Plateau State, Nigeria
Build Up and PeaceTech Lab partnered on two workshops with participants from Jos, Nigeria (Plateau State) to identify gaps in existing early warning and early response (EWER) systems and to look for potential entry points to support groups working in this area. The outcomes are outlined in this report.

Digital Activism in Sudan
Build Up co-founder Helena Puig Larrauri wrote a chapter for a book on Global Digital Activism curated by MIT’s Centre for Civic Media, focusing on challenges to using technology for non-violent activism in Sudan.

Technology for Peacebuilding
Build Up co-founder Helena Puig Larrauri collaborated with Anne Kahl to produce this foundational paper on peacetech, published by the Stability Journal in 2013.

New Technologies and Conflict Prevention in Sudan and South Sudan
Build Up co-founder Helena Puig Larrauri wrote this early paper on peacetech in 2013, published by the International Peace Institute.

Analysis of Digital Conflict

Social Media as a Tool for Peacebuilding
Build Up is working with International Alert to explore the role of social media as a strategic tool for peacebuilding. The research seeks to address both the positive and negative roles of social media in conflict contexts and develop a deeper understanding of its potential as a peacebuilding tool. In the final paper, we identify a series of emergent threats to peace posed by social media, as well as proactive ways that peacebuilders are already using social media to build peace. We then present a framework for understanding the key functions that social media can play in peacebuilding.

The Commons: research and interventions to depolarize online political conversations in the USA
Between June and December 2017, Build Up, in partnership with MIT MISTI and with funding from HumanityX and The City of The Hague, ran a pilot program that explored interventions to address polarization on Facebook and Twitter in the USA. This evaluation report explores the process, results and impact of The Commons pilot. The second Commons project ran throughout 2019, testing a variety of strategies, and our evaluation concluded that we have designed and tested a model that delivers results and impact at a reasonable cost and can be scaled. This evaluation report explores the process, results and impact of The Commons 2019.

Analysing refugee-host community narratives on social media in Lebanon
In November 2018, UNDP commissioned Build Up to conduct a comprehensive mapping and analysis of Syrian refugee-host community relations in Lebanon (including narratives, sentiments and amount of traffic) on Facebook and Twitter. The final report covers findings from a desk review, qualitative interviews and analysis of over 2.6 million Tweets and 14,734 Facebook posts and comments. Building on this analysis, the report also serves to identify challenges and opportunities for UNDP to integrate social media monitoring into its programming.

Strategy Support to Stonewall
As the UK’s leading LGBT rights organisation, Stonewall often deals with conflict among diverse stakeholders. Build Up worked with Stonewall staff to analyse how conflict was showing up on social media and introduce a number of innovative policies and tools (including non-violent communications and social media listening) to strategise about how to overcome challenges in new ways.

Resources for Practitioners

Digital Inclusion for Mediators
In 2019, Build Up collaborated with the Graduate Institute in Geneva to explore the potential of digital technologies to influence mediation processes. Together with colleagues at the Graduate Institute, we ran an online course and consultation for mediation and peacebuilding practitioners to explore how digital technologies can be used to help achieve the strategic purposes of peacemaking. The online course introduced participants to our framework for understanding digital inclusion, and took them through a participatory design process to develop concrete use cases for digital inclusion. The final results of the research, including concrete use cases that came out of the design process, will be published in the near future.

Human Security Business Partnership
Build Up is part of a Research Group for the Human Security Business Partnership of LSE IDEAS, participating in group discussions about how to conceptualises and operationalise a framework designed to to encourage collaboration between the private sector, the public sector, and civil society to protect and empower individuals and communities in areas affected by conflict and crisis. We recently wrote a discussion paper on the role of technology in shifting relationships between communities and companies in conflict-affected settings.

Participatory Video for Peacebuilding
Over the years, Build Up has produced a series of guides that provide advice, exercises and notes for practitioners who wish to use a participatory video methodology to enhance the resilience and peacebuilding capacities of conflict affected communities. The latest of this guide was prepared during a training for youth leaders in the Philippines organized by International Alert Philippines, and incorporates material on strategic communications and scriptwriting developed jointly with the Alert Philippines team. This guide draws on the extensive literature on PV, and is based on the experience of Build Up facilitating PV processes in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Bosnia, and the Philippines.
Participatory Video and Strategic Communications for Peacebuilding (version 3)
Participatory Video and Strategic Communications for Peacebuilding – Arabic (version 3).
Participatory Video for Peacebuilding: A Guide for Practitioners (version 2)
Participatory Video for Peacebuilding: A Guide for Practitioners (version 1)