For this objective, we have focussed on the innovative and appropriate use of ICTs as a critical measure of EU capabilities for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. It considers the features of particular technologies and how they intersect with the opportunities, operational barriers and ethical dilemmas they present in their actual uses. This is relevant to assess both through formal and informal practices, by various peacebuilding actors in specific peacebuilding contexts. As such, the resulting needs assessment and forward-looking recommendations related to ICTs will address the practical aspects of implementing context-specific,whole-of-society approaches.
The approach of the WOSCAP project is informed by a critical-constructive reading of current conflict prevention and peacebuilding practice, which forces us to rethink several of the underlying assumptions and practices in this field. In working towards our objectives, we have taken into account the operational dilemmas and disconnects identified in international peacebuilding interventions, as we seek to assess and enhance the EU's capabilities in relation to two central challenges:
enabling coordination and synergies among multiple peacebuilding actors and approaches;
ensuring local ownership in peacebuilding processes, notably in the sense of relating to a broader range of local stakeholder groups.
Our approach is based on the assumption that the EU's peacebuilding interventions can be more effective and produce more sustainable results if these challenges are addressed up-front and as part of an inclusive whole-of-society approach.
The approach draws on ‘whole of government' and joined-up government approaches in public administration, which seek to address different departments working in silos by applying a more coherent strategy. It deals explicitly with issues of poor co-ordination and integration, aims to counter fragmentation within the policy process, promote synergies and make better collective use of resources. What the whole of society approach adds is the importance of inclusivity and ownership.
Furthermore, our emphasis on people- and context-centred conflict prevention and peacebuilding is rooted in the concept of human security, which has increasingly been adopted in the discourses of the EU and its international partners such as the UN and the African Union in the last two decades. Human security takes the individual as the referent point of security. It examines lived experiences of insecurity, recognising that threats are highly contextualised and interlinked. It eschews the theoretical simplicity of ‘root‘ causes of conflict and considers that threats to individuals exist in terms of a broad and complex spectrum of connected harms.
WOSCAP has teamed up with experts in the field of ICTs as alternative infrastructures for civic engagement and peacebuilding. The project taps into the collective experience and community of BuildPeace, an international conference and community of over 250 participants dedicated to exploring how information and communications technologies, games, networking platforms and other technology tools can enhance the impact of a broad range of peacebuilding, social cohesion and peace advocacy initiatives. As such, it relates to the known uses of ICT technologies in peacebuilding programs around the world. LSE researchers who are researching technology in peacebuilding as part of an existing ERC funded project on Security in Transition have reached out to peers via the BuildPeace platform and beyond.