About the UNLocK Program
One of the ever-present challenges in conflict early warning and post-conflict reconstruction is obtaining relevant and reliable data. Too often, data used by governments, NGOs, international organizations, and the private sector are dated, uneven or questionable. The most persistent shortcoming is the absence of input from populations living in conflict zones, whose perspectives are vital for accurate analysis. To address this challenge, The Fund for Peace has developed UNLocK, a project that links global information technologies with local social networks for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Since 2007, The Fund for Peace has been conducting workshops in the conflict-affected countries of Liberia, Uganda, and Nigeria, training local participants in our Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST). They, in turn, train others at the community level, including traditional leaders, local political leaders, youths, women, school teachers, religious leaders, and others. Data collected from the field by participants are passed up the communications chain to The Fund for Peace for analysis and shared on a dedicated website for the network as a whole.
Aggregated data are made available in the form of meaningful reports and graphical representations of social, economic, and political pressures that can drive conflict. Findings presented at both the community and national levels warn of potential flashpoints and advocate for responsible action by all stakeholders. Working with local networks, The Fund for Peace disseminates the findings, creates alerts, and offers policy recommendations to protect civilians and promote sustainable security.
The UNLocK project serves many purposes. First, it provides local civil society as well as the international community with a way to obtain more immediate early warning and conflict prevention information. Second, it is used to resolve disputes and build local capacity. Third, it is useful for governments and external parties as well as local civil society to identify priority issues at the community level for resource allocation and investment for economic and social development projects in conflict-affected areas.
This top-down, bottom-up methodology for data collection and analysis also strengthens communications among civil society organizations in different parts of the at-risk countries. Participating organizations develop a big-picture view of the conflict environment while learning practical ways to manage conflict, utilize best practices, and adapt lessons learned from others in similar situations. The UNLocK project represents a unique approach to strengthen the ability of all stakeholders to take appropriate steps to protect civilians, achieve sustainable security, and improve development.