JustPeace Labs is proud to announce the release of Ethical Guidelines for PeaceTech, the first in its series of practical guidelines for PeaceTech stakeholders.

Peacebuilding programs are increasingly turning to technology–specifically information communications technology, or ICT–to connect with and assist local communities in post-conflict contexts. It is widely acknowledged that although ICT provides great promise in peacebuilding, there are also significant risks and ethical considerations that must be taken into account before using technology in these contexts.

Experts have created a number of relevant and useful ethical guidelines and good practices (here, here and here, for example), and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative has recently released a human rights approach to using technology in humanitarian responses to crisis.

However, there is still a need for a practical guide to ethical peacetech. Something that peacebuilding practitioners can turn to when planning and executing ICT programs, that software programmers can rely on when tackling complex coding challenges, that private corporations can utilize when operating in post-conflict contexts, and that funders can turn to when deciding how to fund peacetech work.

This is why we are developing a core set of practical guidelines for peacetech:

  1. Ethical Guidelines for PeaceTech

  2. Ethical Coding for PeaceTech Programmers

  3. Ethical ICT Business Practices for Post-Conflict States

  4. Ethical Guidelines for Funding PeaceTech Projects

With our first guide, peacebuilders and development specialists who want to use ICT in their work can find guidance on answering questions like:

  • What exactly are our ethical obligations to our users?

  • How do we get informed consent in a way that users can truly understand?

  • How can we better understand how the local context where we’re working impacts our work–and our data?

  • What data can we ethically collect? What data should we collect

  • How can we make sure we are not putting our users at risk?

  • Is there anything we need to make sure our programmers do (or don’t) put into the code?

  • How can we protect our users if we have to, or decide to, share our data with third parties?

The guide is loosely organized by a program or project lifecycle. The first section introduces ethical, privacy and security challenges that arise when using ICT in peacebuilding or post-conflict contexts. It also discusses steps to take in order to understand the context in which you are working and how to be inclusive and avoid bias in data collection. The second section presents considerations for how to meet ethical obligations in practice, from the planning and strategy phase onward. The guide also includes a list of resources for more detailed information on the themes addressed.

Future guides will tackle similar issues targeted to different PeaceTech stakeholders, including software engineers, private corporations and funders. Each will be written with needs and interests of each user group in mind, and in consultation with industry experts.

Together, we hope that this comprehensive set of guidelines will help promote the ethical use of ICT in post-conflict contexts.

Ethical Guidelines for PeaceTech