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12 May 2023

Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin calls for better understanding of tech for future peace

The expert in peacebuilding and leadership spoke about a future where war and peace would be driven by science and technology, at a recent United Nations Security Council open debate.

Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin speaking at the UN Security Council in New York in May
Screengrab of Professor Olonisakin's talk from UN Web TV.

Speaking at a recent United Nations Security Council open debate in New York, Professor ’Funmi Olonisakin argued that there is an urgent need to understand and anticipate how scientific and technological advances will alter human agency in the future. This includes the implications of artificial intelligence for politics, society and security.

Advances in science and technology are critical drivers of war and peace in the future, and determinants of where power lies, who has agency, and how that agency is exercised are underpinned by this.

Professor ’Funmi Olonisakin, Professor of Security, Leadership & Development

Professor Olonisakin, Professor of Security, Leadership & Development at the African Leadership Centre, spoke on the topic ‘Futureproofing trust for sustaining peace’, arguing that an important aspect of futureproofing trust for sustaining peace is to understand how people in the future may organise, build community and solve problems.

She said that the African Leadership Centre (ALC) in Nairobi is working towards building this understanding by focusing its 10-year research agenda on one central question: How will perspectives of peace and the state change among those who will govern the world in 2050?

She also argued that building institutions and norms for future peace requires considering the ground realities of people and places who are often marginalised in global decision-making.

To capture these ground realities, she said the ALC is building a data laboratory, which has large amounts of social media data along with ethnographies of marginalised communities.

Professor Olonisakin: “[The aim is to] observe the complex and dynamic nature of how peace, development, and conflict are interpreted, reimagined, and reinterpreted by different people across age, gender, and social status.”

Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Cynthia Chigwenya, Youth Ambassador for Peace for Southern Africa, also spoke in the open debate.

Watch the full debate on the United Nations website.

In this story

'Funmi  Olonisakin

Vice President (International, Engagement & Service)