Investment, trade and aid can have adverse effects on local communities and economies, undermining peace and even creating or exacerbating conflict.

We help companies to assess the risks and impacts of their operations on local communities.

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Introduction: 

Investment, trade and aid can generate significant economic wealth and help support social development. However, they can also have adverse effects on local communities and economies, undermining peace and even creating or exacerbating conflict.

We help companies to assess the risks and impacts of their operations on local communities, to ensure their activities do not fuel tensions or violence. We advise governments and international institutions on how to enhance the peacebuilding potential of their economic policies and projects. We also support local communities to shape and benefit from economic development.

Our work is important because investment and trade can help support peace and development, but those who invest in conflict-prone and high-risk places often lack the skills and experience to avoid exacerbating instability and violence.

Why: 

Businesses that invest in conflict-prone or high-risk areas often experience reduced access to markets and capital, damaged infrastructure and direct attacks on personnel and assets.

By proactively adopting policies and practices which are sensitive to local conflict contexts, comply with human rights standards and follow best practices in corporate sustainability, businesses can minimise any adverse impact their conduct and investment could have on local communities. In doing so, they can also reduce risks to their operations and contribute to local stability and development.

It is also important to better utilise the positive role that domestic and international investment and trade can play in supporting peace and development in conflict-prone countries. This needs to be reflected in the international community’s economic recovery efforts and government policies and practices, which should promote and support activities that encourage economic recovery and private sector development.

Finally, it is important to empower local populations and civil society organisations to better protect their rights, and to shape and benefit from the economic activities affecting their communities.

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Peace Talks 16: Peace through prosperity

Peacebuilding is essential for the 1.5 billion people who live in countries affected by conflict. But economic development usually takes centre stage, in the eyes of governments, investors, voters, parents and young people wanting a better life.

The challenge is to make sure that economic improvement also brings peace. This is not automatic but plenty of experience shows it can be done.

Peace through prosperity

International Alert’s new report, Peace through prosperity, looks at the importance of integrating peacebuilding into economic development.

What does economic development mean for peace? Q&A with Phil Vernon

To mark the launch of Alert’s new report, Peace through prosperity: Integrating peacebuilding into economic development, author Phil Vernon, Director of Programmes at International Alert, answers our questions on how economic development can help foster peace. Does economic development always contribute to peace? Peace without economic development is impossible, for sure; but economic development does not automatically build peace. It can even undermine it. So we need economic development that is conducive to peace.

Creating stability in conflict-affected countries: What role for employment practices?

The image of a war profiteer – an individual or private company benefitting from a period of violent instability – is well recognised. Less well-established in the public imagination are the business women and men who see violent conflict as a threat to their livelihoods, by disrupting their links to suppliers and markets. While some private companies undoubtedly profit from instability, violent conflict has significant negative effects on a country’s economy and therefore most private businesses suffer during periods of violence and can take a long time to recover.

Mobilising private finance for development: The peace connection

In April this year the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) made a big call. It essentially said we will fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. In particular, we will not achieve SDG 1 on eradicating extreme poverty. Worrisome, given we have not yet even finalised the SDGs, but not a revelation to those working on fragile and conflict-affected states – those states that were left behind by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Border life in DRC and Rwanda

Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati talking to the women tradersOn May 13, International Alert facilitated a meeting of the World Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati, with four women cross-border traders in Rubavu district, Rwanda.