USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, December 12 - 18, 2013

Table of Contents

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High-Speed Recovery
The [Rwandan] government’s mission statement, Rwanda Vision 2020, lays out a path for the nation to reach middle-income status by skipping an industrialization period altogether, fostering an economy based instead on communications and information technology. Only 16 percent of homes in Rwanda have electricity, which is hardly a promising number for a society gambling on a high-tech future. But Rwandans do have access to mobile phones - or about 60 percent of them do, up from 6 percent in 2006. They also have decent Internet access, especially in comparison with other African countries.
See the full article (Slate, Paul Hiebert, 12/18/13)
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Government Snooping and E-Surveillance Call For A Geneva Convention For Data
Today, electronic government surveillance has become a tool of modern conflicts, used, often indiscriminately, to spy on enemy combatants, foreign corporations and individuals, and domestic citizens alike, often with little restraint from domestic laws and even less regard for international ones. To address this issue, nations should come together to establish a “Geneva Convention for Data,” which would both protect the rights of citizens from unreasonable search and seizure of their information by governments and establish a digital free trade zone unencumbered by protectionist laws restricting cross-border data flows.
See the full article (Forbes, Daniel Castro, 12/18/13)
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The Geopolitics of Geoengineering
David Keith, a Harvard physicist and energy policy expert lays out arguments for actually deploying geoengineering. He says that releasing sun-blocking aerosol particles in the stratosphere (see “A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming,” March/April 2013) “is doable in the narrow technocratic sense.”The potential sources of conflict are myriad. Who will control Earth’s thermostat? What if one country blames geoengineering for famine-inducing droughts or devastating hurricanes?
See the full article (MIT Technology Review, Eli Kintisch, 12/17/13)
Click to read "The 'Dark Matter’ of Peacebuilding" an Olive Branch Post by Jacqueline H. Wilson.
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Green Rush
A nation more associated with periodic famine and acute childhood malnutrition than with agricultural bounty, [Ethiopia] is leasing millions of hectares to foreign companies, who want to grow and export food to places like Saudi Arabia, China, India, and Europe. The government in Addis Ababa says it needs foreign companies like Karuturi Global to help create jobs, raise Ethiopia's income from food exports, and develop the agricultural technology and infrastructure that can bring the impoverished country into the mainstream of the global market economy. But at what cost -- to land rights, to human health, to the environment, to national stability?
See the full article (Foreign Policy, Richard Schiffman, 12/17/13)
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Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent of Snowden’s Leaks
American intelligence and law enforcement investigators have concluded that they may never know the entirety of what the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden extracted from classified government computers before leaving the United States, according to senior government officials.
See the full article (NYT, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt, 12/14/13) *NYT subscription may be required to read full story
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Space Research and Mobile Tech: Kenya's Next 50 Years
As Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence, many will be looking back on the events of the last half century, which saw country shake off British colonialism to carve its own identity. But it is also a time to look ahead to the next 50 years, and how technology can shape a new Kenya. The challenge for the future, however, is building a technological foundation for economic transformation. Probably Kenya's most important technological achievement was pioneering the world-first mobile money transfer system. The transformative innovation is part of a larger revolution in mobile banking.
See the full article (CNN, Calestous Juma, 12/12/13)
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which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

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There will be no News Roundup distributed over the next two weeks. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the PeaceTech Initiative!



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