in: Business, Peace and Sustainable Development 7/2016, 50-65
The use of information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure for peacebuilding has been an increasingly critical part of the peace making toolkit of governments, multilaterals and civil society. One of the key challenges that governance organizations encounter is how to work with private sector owners of communication capacity to achieve the social benefits ICTs can provide while recognizing the inherent aspects of business continuity that telecommunications firms adhere to. This paper argues that this challenge is best met through policy and regulation with rules set through cooperative processes where government, telecom firms and civil society codify their needs in soft or hard law. To demonstrate the challenges and opportunities of such a process, this paper details a case of telecommunications policy in Samoa. The Samoan example illustrates the potential for misunderstandings and non-cooperation between the government and telecom firms during crises. Solved through soft processes with a focus on balancing the expectations of the government and the needs of firms for meeting costs, the lessons around balancing social benefit with business continuity during periods of social stress speak directly to how ICTs can be used to support peace processes and violence prevention in other cases.