New Swiss Alliance for Capacity-building in PeaceTech

Illustration: Doug Thompson

Illustration: Doug Thompson

EPFL (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) and The Geneva Graduate Institute (formerly IHEID) have signed an agreement to create the Swiss PeaceTech Alliance, which will bring together complementary knowledge needed to build capacity internationally in the field of PeaceTech. The partners are very proud to further announce that the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform (GPP) has also decided to join the alliance.

PeaceTech is an emerging area of peace promotion that utilizes technology for conflict prevention and resolution, and to create the conditions for peace. A promising example today is the combination of cutting-edge methods in artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain, which aim to monitor, verify and actively counteract online mis(dis)information. PeaceTech practitioners work hand-in-hand with actors from other peace fields (peacebuilding, peacemaking, diplomacy, etc.).

Building on the country’s long tradition as a neutral actor engaged in peace promotion, the partnership will position Switzerland as a leader in the field with concrete actions to bring critical knowledge at the intersection of peace processes and technology. The partnership has already presented its mandate and discussed the first concrete project with the Peace and Human Rights group of the Swiss Department of Federal Affairs.

“Expertise and leadership in the hard sciences and technology are of course needed to create technological innovations for PeaceTech. But for PeaceTech to be applied effectively, strong knowledge in the social sciences is also indispensable,” says Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL. “Our two institutions are each recognized world leaders in our areas of excellence – EPFL for technology and the Geneva Graduate Institute for expertise in world affairs, international relations and development.”

The EPFL EssentialTech Centre and the Geneva Graduate Institute will jointly serve as coordinators for operational capacity. They will connect experts from both institutions and beyond, building an interdisciplinary reference group to support PeaceTech initiatives worldwide.

The alliance will stimulate the emergence of hybrid knowledge, from peace to tech and from tech to peace, necessary to design and operate PeaceTech, and to assess its use. It will also support research projects aimed at developing innovative practice in PeaceTech, and evaluate and report on the evolution of the field.

“There is increasing conviction within the international community that peace, sustainability and equity are in tight interdependence,” says Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute. This alliance aims to enhance the development of PeaceTech as a field, keeping a critical eye on sustainability and the long-term effects of tech use in peacebuilding, peacemaking and violence prevention. It will help extend the practice of peacebuilding and conflict resolution approaches utilizing technological innovation.

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