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#PeaceHack2016: Peacebuilding through technology

Liam Jamshidi - Tech Officer - London Office


International Alert is a peacebuilding organization who works in areas affected by conflicts like Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and the like. “We wanted to try to use technology in peacebuilding and try to make a difference, help people to be aware and take part in making the world a better place,” said Liam Jamshidi, a tech officer from the London office.

The first #peacehack hackathon was held in London in the year 2014. It was an initiative that brought the two worlds of technology and peacebuilding together to try to develop solutions for big problems. Later in 2015, they were able to conduct 5 peacehacks in Barcelona, Beirut, Colombo, London, and Washington DC.  Over 300 hackers took part in the event which was simultaneously done in the 5 regions. The participants were connected through Google hangout. One of the winning ideas is the Safegees – an app that keeps refugees connected. It was developed and is now available in the market.

This year, International Alert was able to conduct 3 hacks so far –in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the first in the Philippines. According to Liam, there are 3 more upcoming peacehacks which will be done in London and Greece.


Staff members of International Alert Philippines
September 21, 2016 is International Peace Day; but, it is also the 30th anniversary of the founding of International Alert which is an international organization who works in approximately 30 countries where there is often violent conflict. According to Ruel Punongbayan, International Alert Philippines’ Head of Advocacy, “Naroon ang alert kung saan may gulo, may kaguluhan, may hidwaan”.

International Alert has worked in over 60 countries since its founding 30 years ago. There are around 30 country offices at present. From its headquarters in London, International Alert began working in the Philippines in 1988 by doing back-channeling work for the peace process between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Currently, International Alert Philippines is involved in the peace processes in the country. First is the National Democratic Front peace process between the government of the Philippines and the rebels. Further, their country manager, Pancho Lara is the head of the reciprocal working group on ceasefire with the CPP-NPA. They have also been working with the MILF peace process. “Kung mayroong gustong ipaabot ang MILF sa gobyerno or vice versa, iyon ang ginagawa namin.”, Ruel said.

Ruel confidently said that the Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) developed and maintained by International Alert Philippines is the only subnational conflict incidence monitoring system in the Philippines. It contains the conflict panel data in Bangsamoro from 2011-2015. They expanded this to the eastern and southern Mindanao conflict database.

Apart from all these involvements of International alert Philippines, they still have a bigger goal and that is to create a Philippine database.

“We’re trying to influence policy and practice in peacebuilding.”, Ruel said. He expressed his joy in seeing the participants of the first #peacehack in the Philippines especially that many of them are members of the youth.

International Alert’s previous tagline was “Understanding conflict, building peace”. However, they thought that it poses an impression that you need to be knowledgeable to be able to make peace which according to Ruel is not true. To that, he said, “No, we make everyday peace”. This is why they have a new tagline: “Peace is within our power”. Ruel believes that “everyone is involved in peacemaking, peacebuilding”.

“We want to challenge you in this peacehack to come up with concepts and ideas to help the Philippines and make a peaceful Philippines”, Ruel concluded.

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