Reflections On KPAC22
Lessons of the KPSRL Secretariat from organizing KPAC22
On 20 October 2022, the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law (KPSRL) organized its Annual Conference (#KPAC22). This document describes the Secretariat’s reflections on the way KPAC is evolving (a.o. based on the feedback received), to involve the KPSRL network in that journey.
Important is to note that this does not concern a detailed reflection on the content, as this follows in December. For that, you can give input here before 6 December.
The hybrid format was appreciated for its accessibility, though improvements have to be made to better connect and equally engage online and in-person audiences.
Longer sessions were an improvement – next up are longer breaks.
The closing session was too ambitious for the end of a long day, though the idea of involving activists and ‘turning the table’ was appreciated.
The conference was generally considered diverse and a ‘safe space for learning’ with honest exchanges. However, we do recognise space for improvement is still needed to ensure everyone is feeling safe, heard and respected.
The theme ‘Reimagining Social Contracts’ opened space for conversations that colleagues do not usually have on societal roles and responsibilities, and the role of concepts like trust and norms.
KPSRL might want to experiment with a variety of session formats; workshops, lectures, short pitches etc.
Reflections and lessons
On 20 October 2022, the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law (KPSRL) organized its Annual Conference (KPAC22). Overall, we as the Secretariat are happy with how the day went, which is also reflected in the feedback received.
Hybridity and accessibility
This year’s KPAC continued its hybrid format, with some online, some in-person and some hybrid sessions. This was done to maintain accessibility from all over the world, an aspect that was appreciated by participants.
This format however still comes with challenges. Interaction between the online and offline audience does not come easily, even – or most exemplary - in hybrid sessions. For future KPACs, this format can still be innovated and hybrid sessions deserve extra support – or parts could take place in the Global South all together.
Some of the feedback referred to a disappointing amount of in-person attendees. Partially, technical support comes with a price and reduces the budget for in-person attendance. In-person attendance was further reduced by the fact that the location was physically not the easiest to reach.
Flow of the day
The Secretariat decided to remove 1 hour sessions from the timetable and only work with 1,5 hour timeframes. This gave more space for content and interaction. In-between the sessions, the 15 minute breaks turned out to be too short; people want to process the sessions and connect with each other, while session leads are affected negatively if participants show up too late after the break.
Participants shared that they found the opening session discussion dynamic and inspiring, and that they supported the intentions of the closing. Closing session turned the table by reflecting on ‘Western’ SRoL challenges and ways to influence these. In hindsight however, the closing session was too ambitious for end of the day – dynamics we need to anticipate in the future.
Participants also indicated they missed a part of the closing session that brought together different impressions of the day around the theme of ‘Reimagining Social Contracts’. To fill this gap, we are currently working on creating an action-oriented analytical reflection on the implications for reimagining social contract(s) in the future. We will review the sessions’ notes, consult the session leads, and use inputs that you can easily provide at the Miro board here.
Sessions and speakers
Participants noted that there was a great diversity of voices speaking at KPAC22, partially possible due to the hybrid format but also due to the space given to, for example, activists. This undoubtedly contributed to the fact that participants generally considered the conference a ‘safe space for learning’, meaning learners felt respected and that they could share their thoughts with minimal risk of judgement/consequences. The only aspect where this was less the case, was regarding the mentioned combination of the ‘formal SRoL sector’ and activists. For fruitful exchanges, bringing together these different realities requires more attention to facilitate mutual understanding first, as well as to ensure everyone is safe, heard and respected.
Some of the sessions had too many speakers and too little space for interaction between speakers and audience. Most of the sessions used the same format of panel discussion in plenary and break out discussions in small groups. For future editions, KPSRL might want to experiment with more formats; such as workshops, lectures, short pitches etc. It could also allow registration for specific sessions to better prepare session leads to the public they will have. We also see this as a call for us to provide more support to session leads and inspire them better to use a wider array of exchange formats.
The lens of a social contract allowed for discussions on different societal roles and responsibilities, and the role of concepts like trust and norms, which opened space for honest conversations that colleagues do not usually have.
Some found that KPAC was missing more governmental and institutional realities and their connections to the widely discussed bottom-up peacebuilding conversations. Additionally, we recognize some sessions only indirectly linked to the overall theme of reimagining social contracts, leaving the connection too much open for interpretation by participants. This is an invitation for us to be more intentional in shaping the programme of future conferences.
The day after KPAC22, a side event (see summary report) took place between KPSRL’s Advisory Committee and the Dutch MFA. The topics above were mentioned there too, as well as a need to distinguish different phases of the social contract better and what (international) support is needed in those phases.
We are excited to continue working with you. We will be in touch with:
An analytical reflection (and potential workshop) on the implications for reimagining social contract(s). As mentioned, you can give your input here.
Videos of the online and hybrid sessions can soon be found on our YouTube channel.
An upcoming update of our KPAC website with short reports from all sessions.