Please view the Archive of IBO's presentation on Tuesday evening:


IBO Peacebuilding Projects from Bryan Hanson on Vimeo.


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.

Jeff Aresty is co-founder and president of the Internet Bar Organization (IBO), a non-profit organization that seeks to promote and shape the emerging online justice community by using technology and Rule of Law to promote human rights and alleviate poverty. IBO’s signature project, PeaceTones, is designed to empower artists in developing communities with the essential legal and technical tools to bring their art and music to online markets. IBO’s second project, Internet Silk Road, uses mobile phone technology to provide Afghans with an online justice system to resolve land disputes and conduct e-commerce.


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.




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Thanks for providing those resources. I do have a question based on some of the information that I've seen on the ICT4Peace website - they mention that one of the biggest things that is holding their organization back is the lack of mobile communications in many of the areas they reach (especially Sri Lanka). As you mentioned from the presentation, "mobile phones may help us locate, map and connect local community-based conflict resolution processes with more centralized state-run efforts." What about the countries that have previously limited this kind of technology in the past? Those are the countries that are most likely to need mobile phone technology, but could be the most restrictive for access. Has there been any research into how this technology could reach citizens in countries that may not allow as much access?
Hi Kaitlyn.
Recently there as a big dust-up over some software named Haystack that was intended to promote secure, uncensored communication in Iran. It got a lot of hype and was fast-tracked by the U.S. government, but then proved to be insecure and perhaps putting dissents in more danger than without it. So...people may be feeling a little "gun shy" so to speak in this area. Here's a link to a story that covers the Haystack controversy after the weaknesses in it were revealed.


Kaitlyn Mulligan said:
Hi Jeff,
I completely agree with your statement - the political leaders have a large impact on what access is actually provided to citizens. We saw this with the 2009 presidential election in Iran where complete Internet access was cut off because people were reporting on government-provoked violence for those who did not support the incumbent regime. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made it known that providing open communication through the Internet is a top initiative for peace keeping, and for bringing awareness to violence in areas that still allow it.
Hi again
As Mac said in a prior post, there is a link to our ning website (from the U Mass class I currently teach on Law and the WWW which Ethan Katsh invented and taught for many years) where we will be going over different aspects of these issues from a legal perspective and with a "PeaceTones" focus. Of course, I hope that many of us will stay engaged on this website created by the Creighton folks as well after Cyberweek ends.

The UN picked up on some of our work in a much broader report, which you can find here:

attached
link: www.unctad.org/ier2010

Thanks!!
I'm off to the airport.

Jeff
Eric - great question.  As the events of the Jasmine Revolution have been unfolding in Tunisia and Egypt, I've been thinking about 'ripeness' a lot.  Uptake of information, communication and technology (ICTs) in whatever forms they may be used by citizens of developing countries is a HUGE indicator of ripeness.  The citizens of Egypt and Tunisia are relatively highly literate (literacy rates are in the 75% range for both countries) and the Egyptian government has been involved in ICT-building for years.  The result is a young population that is comfortable with using the internet to communicate about their grievances with each other and the rest of the world.  The resulting action (the protests in the streets) demonstrates the incredible power of online interaction to have real-world effects.  The question the conflict resolution community is how this use and uptake of ICTs by populations such as these can be channeled towards positive, non-violent grievance-reporting to their governments, and, just as crucially, positive and non-violent response to these grievances by their governments.  In my opinion, the ODR and ADR community has a LOT to think about and discuss, given the events of the past week!

Eric Cissell said:
Hello Cyberweek attendees! We're looking forward to an excellent discussion on Technology in Peacebuilding. Last evening, Jeff Aresty and Ruha Devanesan shared Internet Bar Organization's micro-commerce justice initiatives which successfully use ICT for enabling community based rule of law and development in Haiti and Afghanistan. To begin our discussion today, I'd like to build on the material shared by Jeff and Ruha. If you happened to miss the live webinar or would like a refresher, the presentation is available [here].

One of the elements discussed by Jeff and Ruha was the "ripeness for alternative commercial and dispute resolution mechanisms in Haiti and Afghanistan." The question I'd like to propose initially is:

What are examples of indicators that can measure the "ripeness" for technology and alternative dispute resolution mechamisms in an underdeveloped region of prolonged conflict?

In addition to responding to the intial question above, please do not hesitate to post an introductory message about yourself, your interest in the application of technology in peacebuilding, as well as your questions and/or experiences.

Ruha, I am glad you brought this discussion back to the front of our minds. The recent events in Egypt had me thinking of the work you are doing, as well as organizations like Soliya. I was very surprised when I heard that internet and cell phone services were being cut and blocked and thought how quickly this can become a compromising situation for these types of movements. I think the question you raise, “how the use and uptake of ICTs by populations such as these can be channeled towards positive, non-violent grievance-reporting to their governments, and, just as crucially, positive and non-violent response to these grievances by their governments.” is important to consider, but another question surfaces in how can peace builders encourage governments potentially threatened by these efforts to refrain from using crippling tactics that don’t allow ICTs to work? Thanks again for your comments and I wonder what others think in light of the current situation.

Bryan - an excellent question: "how can peace builders encourage governments potentially threatened by these efforts to refrain from using crippling tactics that don’t allow ICTs to work?"

 

I believe that it is really difficult for peacebuilders (on the citizen, NGO or governmental level) to make much difference when things come to a head like they have in Egypt and Tunisia and governments are engaging in emergency-response tactics like shutting down ICTs to curb what they see as destabilizing and security-threatening acitivity.  I think what we, as peacebuilders, must focus on is preventing the escalation of grievances to a point where people feel revolutions must take place in order to get their governments to listen.  Part of this prevention is creating systems and processes through which governments are aware of  and responsive to the growing grievances of their citizens.  I think its in both the interest of these government and their citizens to address these problems before the boil over into street protests and public unrest.  It's a complicated issue and I'm not suggesting I have the one answer as to how governments can be more responsive, but recent events have shown that they must.



Bryan Hanson said:

Ruha, I am glad you brought this discussion back to the front of our minds. The recent events in Egypt had me thinking of the work you are doing, as well as organizations like Soliya. I was very surprised when I heard that internet and cell phone services were being cut and blocked and thought how quickly this can become a compromising situation for these types of movements. I think the question you raise, “how the use and uptake of ICTs by populations such as these can be channeled towards positive, non-violent grievance-reporting to their governments, and, just as crucially, positive and non-violent response to these grievances by their governments.” is important to consider, but another question surfaces in how can peace builders encourage governments potentially threatened by these efforts to refrain from using crippling tactics that don’t allow ICTs to work? Thanks again for your comments and I wonder what others think in light of the current situation.

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