Operation Unified Protector was mandated by the United Nations on humanitarian grounds; still, many civilians were left to fend for themselves, wondering if all necessary means to protect them had been implemented. During modern armed conflict, ordinary citizens in extraordinary circumstances take it upon themselves to assemble online, to reinvent their identity, become “activists”. The diaspora collaborates tirelessly, assisting their fellow countrymen on the ground. This was particularly the case during the Libyan conflict in 2011 : many success stories, but also big red flags. Profiteering, poor resource management, ad-hoc logistics and security issues – ultimately some lives were lost, where they shouldn’t have. To these concerned citizens, many of whom are now involved in Libya’s fragile Civil Society, online conversations and collaboration had become the norm.
During the conflict, third party activists abroad gained their trust and acted as a super-connectors, enabling many to access contacts, knowledge and resources: helping them to help themselves by volunteering their own limited means. However, the question remains: by limiting aid to solely state-sponsored initiatives, could the International Community have unwittingly restrained access to capacity building knowledge, skills and resources during the conflict, cutting them off from key information necessary not only to protect and help civilians as the conflict unfolded, but also to build up strong local Civil Societies, vital during this current post-conflict institution-poor environment?
Both the founders of Danaides.org identified this problem as one of the main hurdles to sustainable peace-building and after sharing their separate and complimentary experiences of the Libyan conflict set about to craft a project to strengthen resilience of civil society in such circumstances. The founders provide expertise ranging from information management and online security to military ethics and communication in armed conflicts. Their core competencies aim to organise trusted networks to help state and non-state actors in protecting and empowering civilians in case of armed conflicts.
The P2PR2P project is a conflict-agnostic digital tool which will integrate a multi stakeholder interface : Private sector, Public sector, NGOs on and off conflict zone and will aim to secure requests (asks), match and dispatch knowledge, relationships and resources to ensure the continued protection of civilian populations in countries at war. It will streamline crisis financing and foster transparency. It is a scalable software-enabled distributed network of influence and resource management. Distributed governance by stakeholders will be addressed in the design of the P2PR2P software platform. Ultimately it will deliver greater participation of a diverse, gender balanced civil society in the peace-building process.
International and regional stability has been shaken to its core by structural insecurity, in part due to the military, economic and humanitarian fallout of the Libyan, Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts. In 2017, at-risk elections were held in France, the Netherlands and Germany. These elections were directly impacted by the power dynamics of these conflicts and their stabilisation processes (future or ongoing).
The P2PR2P tool is designed to address most of the concerns of the United Nations Grand Bargain (transparency, direct aid to local responders, reduce duplication and management costs, needs assessment, participative feedback, harmonised reporting).
It will help partner countries strike the right balance between guaranteeing ownership of the peace process to civilians in conflict zones, and flexing donor countries’ diplomatic strength. Ultimately it will reinforce the United Nations global political commitment of Responsibility to protect (R2P) civilians in conflict zones.
Now faced with growing international non-cooperation, countries which wish to adhere to the international rules based system need to forge a crisis management strategy which fathoms in the parameters of hybrid warfare in the civil society landscape. The very practical solution and method which we are building will deliver a multi-lateral distributed system of material, financial and immaterial aid delivery which guarantees the neutrality and independence of civil society in conflict zones.