Addressing the economic dimensions of peacebuilding through trade and support to private enterprise

A thriving economy is essential to building peace. But the impacts of rapid economic growth can drive conflict as much as build peace. The wrong kind of trade policies, or trade policies applied badly, can damage economies and divide peoples as much as support and unite them. The private sector itself can be a contentious force within society, reflecting and exacerbating discrimination, exclusion and inequality as much as addressing them, either through their own behaviour or their relationship to a structurally unjust economy.

Like all interventions in conflict affected or threatened countries, therefore, the pursuit of economic development must be informed by a sound analysis of the conflict, an understanding of the interests, agendas and perceptions of relevant actors and an appreciation of the impacts it may have, particularly on vulnerable groups. Putting peacebuilding at the centre of its range of economic development and trade policies could notably contribute to greater policy coherence for development, but also help support the kind of economic growth which can help societies and regions permanently emerge from violence and war.