The Information Revolution and New Opportunities for Multitrack Diplomacy in High Violence Situations: The Increasing Importance of Data Organization and Local Input for Policy Shaping


School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

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As data have been created at unprecedented speeds over the past decade, new foreign policy ideas to harness this emerging technology have also appeared. Large data (also known as “Big Data”) and predictive analytic technologies have fostered novel ways for government analysts to track warfare in order to plan violence prevention interventions. Importantly for this topic, these trends have also occurred in tandem with shifts by NGO mediators to extend Multitrack Diplomacy objectives beyond generating conflict resolution recommendations to feed into governmental efforts to end the conflict, and into more pronounced efforts to directly link the civilian protection advocacy efforts of some Multitrack Diplomacy actors into Track One processes. This Policy Brief argues that the information revolution and emerging technologies have heightened the importance of engagement between governments and two sets of Multitrack actors in situations of mass violence against civilians: 1) scholar-practitioners with the academic training to devise analytic models that organize the most salient patterns in the raw data for policy decision-making, and 2) local experts, who are best equipped to understand the implications of certain patterns and data points in their own context. To explore these new opportunities, the case study of violence prevention in Myanmar (Burma) is presented in this Brief, which underscores: 1) How new quantities of raw data did not solve policymakers’ prevention problems, 2) How innovative social science findings now enable scholarpractitioners to create empirically-grounded analytic frameworks that organize information in urgent, chaotic contexts, and 3) How local actors, with the best access to ground-level data, can increasingly influence not only policy response to violence but analysis of the fundamental conflict dynamics in the first place.

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Ottawa Dialogue Policy Brief





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