Individuals and organizations alike have leveraged Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote peace and resolve disputes in zones of prolonged conflict. The use of ICT offers a number of advantages in the peace building process. For example, social networking tools foster virtual communities, providing a new avenue for previously isolated people to access information and resources outside the zones of conflict. Each community has its own rhythm and access to technology, as is the case with Internet Bar Organization's (IBO) PeaceTones Initiative. Take a quick peek at the Facebook based online contest (www.facebook.com/haitisings) and VOTE (to help select the Haitian artists who will make the finals), to see one such example.
The IBO’s PeaceTones Initiative addresses the isolation of individuals in conflict zones and areas recently freed from conflict. Prolonged conflict serves as an anchor, holding back populations vandalized and deprived of resources, populations living at or below the international poverty line, and populations overlooked or exploited by local governments.
PeaceTones aims to assist musicians and their communities in conflict and post-conflict zones with access to Internet technology, legal assistance in establishing and maintaining intellectual property rights, alternative dispute resolution assistance to ensure successful ongoing development, and business assistance to bring remote market prices to local developing markets.
PeaceTones through a number of ICT platforms has successfully created virtual communities, which enable their focus groups to access information and resources beyond their boundaries. We are looking forward to engaging with participants from all over the globe to consider how ICT acts an enabler, both positively and negatively, throughout peace building.
Some of you may also want to join a NING network to supplement the PeaceTones Initiative in order to engage both students and practitioners in building a PeaceTones movement for online justice.
Ruha Devanesan is Vice President and Executive Director of the Internet Bar Organization. She heads both the Internet Silk Road and PeaceTones Initiatives of IBO and works with a team of passionate lawyers, researchers and artists to run the projects. Ruha has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Political Science, and graduated from Boston University with a joint law degree and Masters in International Relations. Her research focuses in undergraduate and graduate studies were ethnic conflict, international human rights law and international development.
Eric Cissell is a graduate student from The Werner Institute at Creighton University, studying Negotiation and Dispute Resolution with a specialization in International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. His research focuses on current and emerging technologies and strategies for applying them in conflict management and peacebuilding.
Let me get this discussion started off by posing a question. In your opinion, in an environment where piracy is rampant, How can the artists work best be protected? Currently, the PeaceTones Initiative is focusing on selling the artists work via platforms that already incorporate DRM, an archaic solution to piracy, as illegal downloads outnumber legal ones by a lot. Ruha mentioned in the presentation that piracy can be good to get the artists music out to the world, and more money can come from touring the world. With Haiti Sings, many of the artists will not go on to be world famous, and their only income will be from album sales, which will take a hit from piracy. How can PeaceTones make strides to combat this issue (however futile that may be)?