Digital inclusion in peacemaking a strategic perspective


While inclusion in peace processes is conventionally understood in analogue and “offline” terms, digital technologies can support mediators’ efforts to integrate a broad variety of perspectives, interests, and needs into a negotiation process. The increased availability of digital technology opens up new opportunities for inclusive political processes that can end armed conflict and build peace. This working paper introduces the concept of digital inclusion in peacemaking. It suggests that digital inclusion should be understood as all efforts through which the voice of conflict stakeholders is integrated into a peace process by digital means and in the form of digital data. This can entail various kinds of information that are intentionally expressed in an attempt to change an objectionable state of affairs. Based on an assessment of the current uses of digital technology by mediation professionals, the report introduces a conceptual framework for digital inclusion. It outlines four specific strategic purposes of digital inclusion: building legitimacy of processes and the outcomes, empowering women and marginalized groups, transforming relations, as well as risk mitigation and protection. The framework also discusses the functions and outputs of digital technology, through which any of the purposes can be achieved. Drawing on the insights from adjacent fields such as development and humanitarian aid, as well as the results of a participatory online course, the paper then discusses potential use cases for digital technology. It stresses that digital inclusion is shaped by a variety of context factors, related to the technological, social-cultural, and political environment in which technology is used. Through digital inclusion, mediators can respond to the growing digitalization of peace processes, by shaping the online environment, which increasingly influences negotiation processes and their outcomes.