I work for an organisation called Carolina for Kibera http://cfk.unc.edu/whatwedo/ based in Nairobi Kenya. Kibera, which is the second largest slum in the world is a cosmopolitan environment and highly volatile place that is extremely sensitive to the country's political dispensation at any given time. Infact, as someone once put it, "if you want to gauge the political temperatures in Kenya; put your thermometer in Kibera!" Kibera bore the brunt of the Post Election Violence that happened in 2007/2008 where more than 1,200 Kenyans were reported killed, 300,000 persons displaced and 42,000 houses and many businesses looted and destroyed. https://www.ushahidi.com/blog/2008/03/20/report-on-post-election-violence-in-kenya-un-human-rights-team/
Kibera is home to the current opposition leader as he has been their area MP for more than 2 decades and therefore the community pays a lot of allegiance to him. There has been serious utterances from members of both camps (the ruling party and the opposition party) on what each camp will do should they not win the election. This has also led to an array of demonstrations that begin from Kibera and spill over to other parts of the country either in support or to oppose the demonstrations. These has had adverse effects on small and medium businesses because of the looting and disruptions.
For the business community, "Peace gives you the license to operate and make profit" and therefore there should be every reason for every company to invest in Peace. I am not sure corporate institutions have the muscle to reach out to communities such as Kibera directly. Their contribution would be to support grassroots organisations that they can hold accountable to implement peace initiatives. This is because grassroots organisations have the social license that is given by a community for them to operate. The social license is through the day to day engagement with this community and the community affiliates to these organisations. We call it our Social Capital.
A practical example of our engagement is how we are currently running a peace program in Kibera using soccer ( where youth from different ethnic backgrounds compete for a Peace Cup) and women reaching out to aspiring candidates to publicly declare peace as they campaign.
This is more important than ever because failure to invest in the quest for peace only puts immense pressure on all stakeholders to correct the aftermath of a violent period and halts operations that translates to an economic halt.
Aleia Elnaeim said:
Louise Holden said:
Public private partnerships can really work on the ground - enabling teams of people from difference sectors to come together and invest and deliver in sustainable solutions is key - sometimes public investment is needed to de risk private sector involvement. We wont achieve the SDGs unless we galvanise those partnerships - and as you said, sustainably
Patricia Kanashiro said:
Hi John -
I absolutely agree with you, business partnership with the local community and local government are key to the long-term succcess of any peace building effort. Businesses may eventually leave the region/ community but the locals and the government are permanent institutions.
John E. Katsos said:
An example of an explicit peace enhancement is the attempted reopening or the Panguna mine in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The mine operator, BCL, had previously shut the mine, in part because it was accused of human rights abuses in Bougainville, which had a history of violent conflict with the central government. As the citizens of Bougainville prepare for a referendum on an autonomous state, the citizens and various community organizations were asked to initiate a local tribal dispute reolution process called a “bel kol” (or “cooling of the heart”) to resolve longstanding disputes in order to get the mine running again under BCL’s management. This will provided much needed revenue and employment for the community and will also reduce the violence against the facility that forced its shutdown.
The big takeaway is for companies to partner with local communities to have mutually beneficial relationships with the goal of ending violence and creating sustainable peace frameworks, not just ending relationships when they become difficult.
For background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panguna_mine
I am fully agree with you.
I believe that businesses can play a micro level operational prevention of conflict by participating directly in mediation or arbitration or by support these diplomacy preventive approaches. Additionally, businesses, on broader scale, can play a crucial role in preventing structural conflict by providing economic and social opportunity and stability which will reduce poverty, increase economic growth. This could be done by:
1- Representing the corporate sector as a strategic partner vis-à-vis other local and international actors engaged in conflict prevention and peacebuilding which would allow for extensive networked cooperation.
2- Design and implement corporate programs and projects aimed at building up local business capacity, through the transfer of technical know-how among other things.
3- Offering of advisory services to its member company.
4- Permanent staff should plan, coordinate and externally represent the agencies activities. Recruiting of employees from its members in temporary basis.