Security, Reconstruction, and Peace: The Headway Into Armistice
Marcos Osorio @ stock.adobe.com
The unstable security situations in many countries directly interfere with sustainable development and the protection of human rights and increase the risk of violent conflict. The lack of stability has manifested itself in the largest migration crisis since the second world war which according to the United Nations Refugee Agency forcibly displaced over 16 million in 2017 alone.
Climate Refugees & Monitoring
A growing percentage of these migrants, referred to as climate refugees, are forced to flee due to sudden or gradual alterations in the natural environment related to the impact of climate change. The risks posed are a threat to stability and security. Regrettably, funding in developing countries for climate change protection and adaptation is less than two percent of worldwide military spending. By under-investing in adaptation to climate change, international policymakers show a lack of awareness regarding the relationship and integration between sustainability, stability, and security.
In order to mitigate increased instability due to climate change, natural disasters, and violent conflict, predictive conflict modeling methods will become essential in order to improve monitoring and forecasting. A global issue this size requires international collaboration in order to understand the intricate relationships between the environmental, economic, political, and social factors at play. New types of early warning systems are attempting to crowdsource big-data feeds from social media, news outlets, and digital media in order to visualize conflict and protest events on a global scale, which could greatly enrich fragility indexes, early warning systems, and forecasting efforts. Future models that analyze this plethora of new data using Machine Learning are being developed to predict conflict and the best time and place to intervene, along with the amount of intervention necessary.
Technology is helping citizens participate more actively in peacebuilding, security, and disaster response, allowing anyone with an internet connection to become a digital humanitarian volunteer. Although citizen-led initiatives could reduce dependence on government action and policy-change, the growth of these alternative infrastructures would ideally complement incumbent approaches. A growing number of governmental and non-governmental organizations make use of new information technologies to include local voices in Emergency Citizen Responder tools. Nevertheless, pertinent questions arise such as the extent to which existing institutions will remain relevant and if these alternative methods of getting something done could also fix existing, sometimes broken systems.
As a sign of change, a growing number of people have access to previously nonexistent communication channels, particularly through mobile phones. New communication channels could make it much harder for communities to be misled and when used for positive purposes, these new channels would empower people and enable knowledge and ideas to reach the population and circulate in meaningful ways. On the other hand, with the growth of these new communication channels, concerns around privacy and surveillance are also becoming more urgent. Furthermore, social media seems to facilitate the spread of populist ideas and hate-speech, yet the power of decentralized communications is evidence of how fast hate speech and subsequent counter-campaigns can spread.
Citizens are not the only beneficiaries of new communication channels; governments and international organizations are using these technologies to improve traditionally low-tech fields such as international mediation. E-mediation systems, which are impartial platforms that could enhance existing approaches in conflict resolution, are being developed. They are not only restricted to governments or corporations: social media mediation apps could help promote non-violent action or peace education in the form of micro-toolkits that provide individualized mediation services to hard-to-reach or conflict-affected communities.
These new technologies could help prevent conflict by reducing the gap between warning and response, facilitate peacekeeping through new tools relevant to increasingly complex environments, and help support peacebuilding by empowering local actors. Predictive models and e-mediation systems are especially attractive solutions as they focus on diplomacy and prevention instead of reacting to existing problems and could be especially powerful if used together.
A challenge for governing bodies to promote development through technology is that these technologies are generally developed in the private sector. Collaboration between the private sector and civil society actors have often played a leading role in developing and pioneering innovative uses for these technologies; multilateral cooperation is necessary to effectively implement and govern them. However, if/when situations arise that predictive systems were unable to forecast, the healthy relationships between civilians and governments forged by previous interactions with the system should remain, fostering mediation or the ability to take action when necessary.