Technology for Peace is a Cyprus-based peoples' initiative launched in 1995 to serve the needs of peace pioneers on the divided island.
The peace portal was born because it was deemed needed. What led to its birth was neither the availability of relevant technology nor the availability of funding, because both were not there. The ban of bi-communal meetings imposed by the Turkish Cypriot Authorities following the EU’s decision to postpone accession negotiations with Turkey (summit meeting in Luxembourg, December 1997) stopped face-to-face dialogues (during the time window 1994-1997) and threatened to nullify all peace building efforts on the island. The idea came out of several (# 9, 10 & 11) of the 15 peace promoting projects, which made it to the final Cyprus Peace Bazaar organized by the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group in 1995.
The vision, which underpinned the project Technology For Peace (Tech4Peace) was to enhance in Cyprus one of the most basic human rights, the right of communication, by applying modern technology in the service of peace with emphasis on the usage of Internet and Internet-based applications. A promising and creative way to enhance inter-communal communication where there exist substantial hindrances to direct contact between peoples is through the use of the Internet. Cyberspace and Internet provide an efficient, fast, tractable, confidential, organized, time and space independent means of communication. As individuals and organizations throughout the world continue to demonstrate, the Internet can overcome the challenge posed by physical separation, whether due to geographic, political or other reasons, by effectively moving discourse into "cyberspace."
The Tech4Peace team organized a series of trainings in the usage of the net to communicate across the dividing line in the years 1996-1998. In 1998, with USAID funding given to Dr. Hrach Gregorian, cyber peace cafes on the northern and southern parts of Nicosia have been set up, from where peace builders could communicate with their peers on the other side. In the next years, the project team developed theory of how technology in general can serve bridge the divides, as well as how technology can support the ethical engagement of all stakeholders in a dialogue which concerns their own futures .
The Tech4Peace project has been evaluated by Nathan Associates for the United States Agency for International Development as a project that has contributed towards Peace and Reconciliation in Cyprus. It was one of few projects, which received support multiple times and were funded by the UNOPS, United Nations funding scheme during the very first funding cycle.
The Tech4Peace project was founded as one of the selected Cyprus Peace Bazaar Projects in 1997. The members of the founding team were Yiannis Laouris, Harry Anastasiou, Dervis Besimler and Bekir Azgin. They were all members of the Cyprus Conflict Resolution Trainers Group.
Laouris, Y. and Tziapouras, G. (2002). Technology used for peace in Cyprus. Peacebuilding 3(3), 4-8.
Laouris, Y. (2004). Information technology in the service of peace building. The case of Cyprus. World Futures, 60, 67–79.