International Alert recently participated in the fifth national conference of the UN Global Compact Pakistan Local Network (UNGCPLN), held in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwah (KPK) province, formerly known as North-West Frontier Province and an important economic hub near the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, which border Afghanistan. Known as the "city on the frontier" and the site of ongoing conflict between the government and the Taliban forces in Pakistan, Peshawar was a fitting location to talk about how business can better contribute to peace in the country.
The event was attended by several representatives of the provincial government and business community, who spoke about the need to implement UN Global Compact principles related to business and peace. UNGCPLN is an opportunity for local businesses and other organisations to engage on and promote these principles - which focus on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
The chief guest at the event was Nawabzada Mehmud Zeb, KPK Minister for Technical Education, Manpower Training, Mines and Minerals. Speaking at the event, he emphasised the need for government and business cooperation in drafting legislation and guidance on responsible business. The governor of KPK province, Shaukat Ullah Khan, also sent a message of support for enabling businesses to fulfil their role of contributing to peace in society.
Aurangzeb Haneef (pictured left), Alert’s National Project Coordinator in Pakistan, was also invited to speak at the conference on the role of business as an agent of peace. He introduced Alert's project in Pakistan and explained how our understanding of conflict-sensitive business practices could help sustain businesses in the increasingly strenuous circumstances in the country. He also asserted the need for responsible business from a cultural perspective, to which many speakers responded positively in their follow-up remarks.
The meeting was attended by several chambers of commerce, representing women, KPK, the tribal areas and Pakistan as a whole. Other guests included businesses and members of civil society. UN Global Compact recognised 12 companies from KPK at the event for their good business practices, while a similar number of organisations stated their commitment to signing up to the UN Global Compact Charter.
We have been working closely with UNGCPLN as part of the EU-funded Plural Business Partnerships for Peace (PBPP), and hope to continue to strengthen this relationship in the future. The event also gave us the opportunity to establish links with the local business community in KPK, with follow-up meetings organised with the presidents of the KPK and women's chambers in Peshawar.