A Champion of Peace Tech. Member Spotlight: Kate Keator

Who is Kate Keator

Kate sees herself as a peace-builder and a connector, she considers herself as a person who loves to interact with people and make a change.  With her academic background in political science, and her primary field of work in international relations and dialogue, she has pursued her master’s degree in conflict resolution. She started her work mainly in peace technology and conflict resolution. 

Peace Tech

With the great importance technology occupies in the lives of individuals and communities today, it has also become an important tool in peacemaking and conflict resolution processes. Kate sees that it’s a growing part that helps support the work of peace-builders“, through which many issues of concern to peacemaking and conflict resolution can be tracked, through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Kate says that by tracking these online platforms, you can find out many of the hidden things that revolve around conflict and parties. For example in the Syrian conflict, actors on the ground, especially armed groups, use these online platforms to recruit fighters and fundraise. Conflict resolution practitioners can use the information from this to work on locally-led solutions.

The use of the term peace-tech in the conflict resolution process is not new. One way it is being used is through gathering the information that peacebuilders need in order to understand the nature of the parties involved in the conflict:

  • What their orientations and motives are
  • How they can interact or work with them
  • Whether they are part of the solution or conflict and map the balances of power and vulnerability in the conflict

These are crucial pieces of information which is of great importance in reaching effective decisions to resolve the conflict. This information is also therefore very sensitive and important for designing the right intervention in the conflict“. 

Kate sees a change and expansion of the term “peace tech” around the world, adopted from some quarters in early 2015 and 2016, but there is a lot of work to be done in the field and in academia, especially related to technology, peace-building, and global diplomacy.

Mediation Within Peace Tech

She statedThere are a lot of parties who are concerned about the use of technology in the work of mediators and peace-builders, especially when talking about social media, where they can be used in many mediation processes to help solve a conflict. At present, Kate considers that there is a lot of recognition for the term especially after the Arab Spring and recent events in the USA, as the widespread and effective use of social media platforms in both cases has pushed the role of technology and social media to be an important factor not only in conflict but also in the process of conflict resolution and mediation.

In her opinion when you use the information within the larger system you will have a better understanding of the whole context in a much clearer way“, which contributes to a better understanding not only of movements on the ground, but also of the dynamics that move the parties to the conflict and its events, and therefore you look at it as a part of the larger picture.Mediation, as Kate sees it, is a process based on building relationships and building trust and connecting with the people. While it is a process that can help resolve a conflict,  the importance lies with helping someone feel heard and sharing their feelings, ideas, thoughts, and desires. 

Article by Yousra Hasona, MBBI Writer