Business and peace - It takes two to tango

Markus Mayer, Ben Miller, Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, with contribution from Johannes Schreuder
CDA Collaborative Learning, FriEnt, International Alert | 2020

Jobs, jobs, jobs – according to the 2011 World Bank/UN report “Pathways to Peace” and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ “Sustaining Peace” Agenda – are central in responding to the needs of war-torn societies and fragile contexts. In line with this thinking, job creation through economic development and business involvement has an important stabilising impact in fragile and conflict settings and therefore the private sector has a key role to play in peacebuilding.

But is it really that simple? Do we just have to create jobs, boost economic development and support business actors to enable divided communities and conflict actors to live better and more peacefully as neighbours? Of course, it is not that simple: we have known for decades that businesses profit not only from peace but also, and in various dimensions, from violent conflict. 

The relationship between business and peace poses a range of questions: under what conditions can businesses be persuaded to support peace – and what kind of companies are committed to “doing no harm”? How much responsibility do investors and banks bear as the providers of business finance? What criteria do companies have to fulfil in order to justify public sector funding for business development under (post-)conflict conditions? This newly edited paper aims to raise awareness of the opportunities and prospects but also the risks and challenges associated with the business and peacebuilding nexus. 

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