Why might business contribute to peace?


(Daphne Halkias) #61

Business can do much to work on regional conflicts that interfere with peace initiatives between political and social groups in developing nations. Without peace "within nations", business or anyone will find the building of peace between nations an impossibility. Conflict within developing nations undermines their growing economic systems and particularly the livelihoods of the economically disadvantaged groups. Take for example the challenges smallholder farmer s face in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, as in much if sub-Saharan Africa, land underpins the economic, social and the political lives of the majority of the people. There is evidence that the lack of suitable mechanisms for disseminating the available knowledge on sustainable land management from business educators to smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe presents a barrier for innovation and sustainable adoption of viable land management techniques. Should smallholder farmers not receive training in sustainable land management techniques, the persistence of intragroup conflicts, poverty, deteriorating living conditions, multi-nutrition and diseases will continue to challenges the fragile livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the country. Education is one of the best means Business has in fighting for peace within nations.


(Paul-Andre Wilton) #62

Love this, thanks San. Agree fully on the need to support and foster trading links that can survive through conflict. We've seen some of this right now in South Sudan. This is certainly critical to community peace-building, where personal relationships matter significantly.

San Bilal said:

Evidence from a variety of conflict situations confirms that there is a lot to gain from deploying more conflict sensitive approaches when promoting economic development. Conflict sensitivity is relevant to governments, private sector and international agencies. It needs to be addressed at the very practical level, such as investing in conflict assessments or conflict impact studies, and start already when identifying and designing investments in conflict prone contexts.

There is also a lot to gain in combining pragmatically context-specific institutional reforms and shaping regulatory frameworks for the private sector with a range of bottom-up support approaches to help the social and economic fabric to grow. Stimulating cross-border trade and relationship building between business communities of different origin are other means to promote peace and economic development. There is also evidence that establishing effective business-government platforms for dialogue and advice can support peace and economic growth. Another measure might be the provision of small-scale and gender-sensitive loans to entrepreneurs.

At the international level, conflict sensitive programmes and information provision to increase the awareness of multilateral companies about how to invest in often resource-rich but governance-poor environments are much needed. This also goes for supporting continental policy discourses on fragility, such as the sessions on illicit financing flows held during the 2014 Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa and discussed in this issue.

See articles in our ECDPM GREAT Insights magazine on prosperity for peace (http://ecdpm.org/great-insights/prosperity-for-peace/) and if you have specific insights on how to promote youth employment in fragile countries, contact me now if you want to contribute to our GREAT Insights issue on this early next year.


(karen newman) #63

My friend Jimena makes an interesting point, but hopefully we are moving toward shared value for all and businesses are seeing that in many cases peaceful societies hold greater returns than conflict zones, where there is no marketplace and often diminished capacities.

Businesses must continue to play an important role in advancing the SDGs and yes in times of conflict they can also

support training and apprenticeship efforts to demobilize active combatants of armed forces, and in some cases become innovative, for example supporting consumer awareness by including “conflict-free labels” in their products.


(Molly M. Melin) #64

It seems to me like perhaps the place where business can do the most "good" is somewhere between completely stable and completely unstable states. States with high capacity and enforcement of the rule of law don't really need as much business sector engagement, but those that are completely conflict ridden are unlikely to have the presence of large stakeholders willing to invest.

karen newman said:

My friend Jimena makes an interesting point, but hopefully we are moving toward shared value for all and businesses are seeing that in many cases peaceful societies hold greater returns than conflict zones, where there is no marketplace and often diminished capacities.

Businesses must continue to play an important role in advancing the SDGs and yes in times of conflict they can also

support training and apprenticeship efforts to demobilize active combatants of armed forces, and in some cases become innovative, for example supporting consumer awareness by including “conflict-free labels” in their products.


(Michelle Breslauer) #65

Negative peace factors can certainly provide the most immediate negative economic impact. However, taking a Positive Peace approach can also provide avenues for businesses to engage in prevention and peacebuilding in a way that may be more politically neutral or sensitive. In the work that we have done to empircally identify Positive Peace factors, we've identified an eight-part framework to describe and measure a more peaceful and resilience societal system. These include: •A Well-functioning government that includes government effectiveness, effective judicial systems and the extent to which citizens are allowed to have a voice in decision-making

Sound business environment, which refers to the economic framework for business set by government, the presence of supporting infrastructure such as internet access, business sophistication and overall market conditions

Equitable distribution of resources: more than a reflection of income, this pillar is about how vital goods and services such as land, water, education, health care and justice are distributed throughout a society;

Acceptance of the rights of others, or the level of tolerance and acceptance afforded to individuals in a society

Good relations with neighbors – describing a country’s capacity to use diplomacy to manage disagreements and to positively manage relationships with other countries.

Free flow of information, or how easily citizens can gain access to information and whether the media is free and independent

High levels of human capital, defined as a country’s stock of skills, knowledge and behaviors;

Low levels of corruption, which is the extent to which corruption is prevented or individuals and organizations are held accountable when corruption occurs.



Paul-Andre Wilton said:

Peace itself is a very loose concept. In peacebuilding circles, there is the distinction between ‘negative peace’ which like a cease fire, can simply mean the absence of violence. And ‘positive peace’ which suggests the respect of rights and the promotion of security that allows people to flourish. In the short run – negative peace might be all a business would consider as relevant to its commercial model, but actually in the long run – commercial success and civic freedoms are linked. Acemoglu and Robinson’s book Why Nations Fail, pointed to how the absence of inclusive institutions and creative destruction linked with more liberal societies would ultimately constrain the wealth of any society. I think paying attention to the long term is critical for engaging in peace processes whether formal ones, or though contributing to factors that diminish drivers of instability. (Not exactly the model but I’m told NASA have a 10,000 year workstream – pared down to a human scale the point is we need to think beyond the immediate). Looking at how long it has taken to bring about a political solution to the conflict in Colombia, its clear that long time lines and commitment are critical.


(Claire Sommer) #66

+1 with {>

karen newman said:

My friend Jimena makes an interesting point, but hopefully we are moving toward shared value for all and businesses are seeing that in many cases peaceful societies hold greater returns than conflict zones, where there is no marketplace and often diminished capacities.

Businesses must continue to play an important role in advancing the SDGs and yes in times of conflict they can also

support training and apprenticeship efforts to demobilize active combatants of armed forces, and in some cases become innovative, for example supporting consumer awareness by including “conflict-free labels” in their products.


(karen newman) #67

Interesting perspectives, I would be remiss if I didn't add a new program I heard about within UNDP which will be a Youth4Peace Knowledge Portal that launches on October 18th

Youth4peace.info launches on 18th October 2016 and will include training the trainers and over 2000 youth a year.


(Timothy L. Fort) #68

Great points all around and in reading Molly's post, I'm reminded of the institutional economic literature that talks about transition points and "doorstep" conditions that move from closed societies to open societies. Businesses can be a leverage point for those conditions

Molly M. Melin said:

It seems to me like perhaps the place where business can do the most "good" is somewhere between completely stable and completely unstable states. States with high capacity and enforcement of the rule of law don't really need as much business sector engagement, but those that are completely conflict ridden are unlikely to have the presence of large stakeholders willing to invest.

karen newman said:

My friend Jimena makes an interesting point, but hopefully we are moving toward shared value for all and businesses are seeing that in many cases peaceful societies hold greater returns than conflict zones, where there is no marketplace and often diminished capacities.

Businesses must continue to play an important role in advancing the SDGs and yes in times of conflict they can also

support training and apprenticeship efforts to demobilize active combatants of armed forces, and in some cases become innovative, for example supporting consumer awareness by including “conflict-free labels” in their products.


(Claire Sommer) #69

Thank you for this encouraging news. The site is still restricted, password only. Looking forward to sharing this news with my Youth for SDGs community, including WorldMerit.org and SDSNYouth.

karen newman said:

Interesting perspectives, I would be remiss if I didn't add a new program I heard about within UNDP which will be a Youth4Peace Knowledge Portal that launches on October 18th

Youth4peace.info launches on 18th October 2016 and will include training the trainers and over 2000 youth a year.


(Camden Newton) #70

If businesses move towards shared value for everyone it will benefit them as well as society. In neighborhoods around my town when there were protests and increased crime people were less willing to go to stores near there. If businesses work on creating a safe community it will benefit them because like Karen said peaceful societies hold greater returns. If people don't feel safe in an area or passing through an area to get to a business than profits will suffer as a result.


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #71

That brings us to the end of this live segment. Thanks for all the great insights!

We'll leave this discussion open, so please do continue to post your comments.

This discussion is part of a Challenge on Business and Peace that we are running with Indiana University. For the duration of the Challenge, you can have free access to articles from a new publication from Indiana University, via the article links above.

Thank you to our panellists and everyone else for joining us today.


(Michelle Breslauer) #72


I think an interesting case here is Mexico, where members of the private sector have organized to address insecurity, violence, and increasingly, against corruption. Surveys in Mexico found that security costs for businesses averages four percent of their operating costs, and a significant number of businesses decreased activity as a direct result of crime, so there is a financial imperative to reduce violence. Yet, there is still a strong business environment, social cohesion, and capacity for organization so there is a space for business to advocate and come up with a range of ways to invest in doing "good".


Molly M. Melin said:

It seems to me like perhaps the place where business can do the most "good" is somewhere between completely stable and completely unstable states. States with high capacity and enforcement of the rule of law don't really need as much business sector engagement, but those that are completely conflict ridden are unlikely to have the presence of large stakeholders willing to invest.

karen newman said:

My friend Jimena makes an interesting point, but hopefully we are moving toward shared value for all and businesses are seeing that in many cases peaceful societies hold greater returns than conflict zones, where there is no marketplace and often diminished capacities.

Businesses must continue to play an important role in advancing the SDGs and yes in times of conflict they can also

support training and apprenticeship efforts to demobilize active combatants of armed forces, and in some cases become innovative, for example supporting consumer awareness by including “conflict-free labels” in their products.


(Molly M. Melin) #73

Thank you, Zahid & Tim! What a great concept and discussion.


(Ambreen Waheed) #74

My research on Business and Poverty alleviation link


(Grace Skorin) #75

Alyse, I agree with you in that a business's top priority is profit and customer relationships because ultimately, the business would not exist without those factors. While that is a significant driving force, I think that some companies do a good job of creating an environment that works towards peace without sole regard to gaining a profit. There are some companies that are built on the morals they have and the contribution they make to society. Those companies are formed on those principles and are able to earn profits as a result of their good doing, their peacekeeping. An interesting point you brought up was in relation to social media and the amount of exposure businesses have to everyone surrounding them. If businesses are built on peace from the start, they won't have to worry about coming across in a negative or destructive light in their consumer's eyes. The businesses that maintain peace will resonate with their shareholders and their customers to continue what they've already created.

Alyse Phillips said:

I don't necessarily believe that businesses contribute to peace because they feel it's the morally right choice. I think decisions in business come from a desire to increase profits and build relationships with customers. When businesses make decisions to better the world by contributing to peace, they are also creating a positive reputation for themselves to appear socially responsible and invite a larger pool of investors. As the business world evolves, customers are expecting more from business owners and through social media they are always aware of the state of the business. Now more than ever it's necessary for business owners to consider how each decision they make to increase profits will be perceived in the media by the public. Regardless of motivation, I think the important thing to consider is if each particular business is contributing or detracting from peace.


(Grace Skorin) #76

Karen, I agree that companies are watching their competitors and making their moves based off of them. I think that being able to see what hasn't worked for certain companies can help another company drive closer to success. On the other hand, I believe that peace is something that can be built upon. If a leader in an industry shows certain characteristics that resonate well within their company and to their customers, that practice will likely be recognized and imitated by other companies. I do not see this as a bad thing because if businesses are engaged in peaceful practice, that is and should be something that other businesses aspire to be like, ultimately making the business world a generally peaceful environment.

karen newman said:

I think that businesses certainly look at other companies working in this space to determine the risks and rewards of doing business in certain environments. They also want to know that their peers and competitors have made the leap and look to that as well. In many cases, companies invest in regions where their competition or others in their sector has explored so the benefits of sharing best practices are enormous, especially for learning and mobilizing new actors.


(Camden Newton) #77

You make a very good point. There are very few for profit businesses that contribute to peace because they believe it is morally right. If you actually look at the foundations and causes that businesses support it is two sided. One of the sides being a cause that brings them attention and positive light and the other being because it somehow helps the business. Take banks for example, all of their efforts are for building up the community so in return they will have more clients in the future. Regardless of the motive if it helps the community it is a positive contribution and gets the world and communities to peace.

Alyse Phillips said:

I don't necessarily believe that businesses contribute to peace because they feel it's the morally right choice. I think decisions in business come from a desire to increase profits and build relationships with customers. When businesses make decisions to better the world by contributing to peace, they are also creating a positive reputation for themselves to appear socially responsible and invite a larger pool of investors. As the business world evolves, customers are expecting more from business owners and through social media they are always aware of the state of the business. Now more than ever it's necessary for business owners to consider how each decision they make to increase profits will be perceived in the media by the public. Regardless of motivation, I think the important thing to consider is if each particular business is contributing or detracting from peace.


(Jerry Marshall) #78

My business in Palestine is a for profit triple bottom line business set up in 2012 by three of us wanting to support peace by creating robust jobs and service exports unaffected by the Wall and bridge the political divide. Now, we have 90 staff serving Israeli, Palestinian and US clients, modelling integrity and gender equality. What academics sometimes forget is that entrepreneurs are maverick moral beings wanting to change the world! Google Transcend Support Palestine. Though our web site is about to be massively improved!


(Emily Hart) #79

I think your points about negative peace vs positive peace bring a unique perspective to the discussion. Negative peace like you mentioned is often all a company considers in the short run. In the short run it is a great concept to stop any violence or negative action right away. But at the end of the day if the root cause is not addressed, then eventually the problem will just reoccur. Companies need to help peace in the long run. It not only leads to a sustainable peaceful future, but is the best use of resources for the company. Instead of just momentarily creating a period of peace, companies can benefit greatly by devoting many valuable rescues to sustaining peace for the long term.

Paul-Andre Wilton said:

Peace itself is a very loose concept. In peacebuilding circles, there is the distinction between ‘negative peace’ which like a cease fire, can simply mean the absence of violence. And ‘positive peace’ which suggests the respect of rights and the promotion of security that allows people to flourish. In the short run – negative peace might be all a business would consider as relevant to its commercial model, but actually in the long run – commercial success and civic freedoms are linked. Acemoglu and Robinson’s book Why Nations Fail, pointed to how the absence of inclusive institutions and creative destruction linked with more liberal societies would ultimately constrain the wealth of any society. I think paying attention to the long term is critical for engaging in peace processes whether formal ones, or though contributing to factors that diminish drivers of instability. (Not exactly the model but I’m told NASA have a 10,000 year workstream – pared down to a human scale the point is we need to think beyond the immediate). Looking at how long it has taken to bring about a political solution to the conflict in Colombia, its clear that long time lines and commitment are critical.


(Emily Hart) #80

I like the point that you made in that business can still play an important, and critical, role in times of conflict. Often business take a step back in times of extreme conflict when in fact this is the time that they are most needed. The actions they take towards peace do not have to be huge and take up all their resources. Like you said an act as simple as inclduing conflict free labels can create a big difference in an industry. If every business helps in whatever way they can, big or small, huge differences can be made in the search for peace.

karen newman said:

My friend Jimena makes an interesting point, but hopefully we are moving toward shared value for all and businesses are seeing that in many cases peaceful societies hold greater returns than conflict zones, where there is no marketplace and often diminished capacities.

Businesses must continue to play an important role in advancing the SDGs and yes in times of conflict they can also

support training and apprenticeship efforts to demobilize active combatants of armed forces, and in some cases become innovative, for example supporting consumer awareness by including “conflict-free labels” in their products.