Global PeaceTech: Unlocking the Better Angels of our Techne

by Kalypso Nicolaidis and Michele Giovanardi

 

Abstract

The double-edged nature of technology pervades human history. Today, the potential for peace offered by the internet, social networks, mobile devices, digital identities, AI, blockchain, big data, geospatial information, is matched by the risks of disinformation, polarisation, online violence, surveillance, data privacy, cyber-attacks, and power concentration. Faced with this knife-edge between the bright and dark sides of disruptive technologies, how do we conjure up the better angels of our nature? Many agents for change around the world have sought to employ and regulate new technologies to foster peaceful processes under the aegis of “PeaceTech” initiatives. This paper introduces “Global PeaceTech” as a new field of social inquiry in the context of International Relations and Global Affairs, with the aim of analysing the global context in which these initiatives are embedded and interconnected, in order to draw prescriptive lessons. The deployment of technology for peace entails legal, political, economic, and ethical dilemmas that transcend national borders and require new models of transnational governance. By bringing together the world of “tech-for-good” and the field of international studies broadly defined as the study of patterns of global change, “Global PeaceTech” fills a gap at the intersection between peace studies and global governance and promotes policy innovation at the transnational level. The paper offers an overview of this agenda in four parts: Part I starts from the IR literature and explores the relationship between technology, peace and war. Part II defines the main differences between PeaceTech and Global PeaceTech. Part III sets out a new research agenda in Global PeaceTech, introducing core analytical concepts and research methods, and discussing its potential political and societal impact. In Part IV, we conclude by presenting a series of example of relevant research areas as a reference for further research in Global PeaceTech.

Keywords:

PeaceTech, Peacebuilding, Transnational Governance

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