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 aims to pull together multiple stakeholders, academics and technologists to build a framework which safeguards both national and personal security as well as fundamental liberties, enabling private initiatives during armed conflict, and ultimately empowering local emerging civil society to help them build fairer democracies in institution poor, post-conflict environments. It is designed to be deployed at any stage during political conflict or crisis. Open source, scalable and multi stakeholder compliant, this hub would ultimately source, match and deliver knowledge, resources and tools to grassroots activists and civilians in zones of armed conflict, would plug into current defense or institutional civil society outreach projects and streamline Development and Aid initiatives all the whilst harnessing the immediate and massive product of the collaborative effort delivered by online communities.