Is conflict sensitivity applicable to employment? Business in fragile and conflict-affected settings

‘Conflict sensitivity’ is a catchword that addresses business practices in environments of armed conflict. This working paper introduces the term ‘conflict-sensitive employment’ in order to shift the focus towards the job-related role of private business in conflict environments.

The United Nations Global Compact and international finance institutions are devoting efforts into convincing companies to comply with principles aiming to provide the private sector with a role in peacebuilding. They portray employment creation as a key factor in attracting young people away from joining armed groups.

A critical analysis of relevant documents and scholarly debates reveals major dilemmas. The tentative result of the analysis is that conflict-sensitive employment may be possible if it pays. Empirical research at the micro-level in fragile and conflict-affected settings is required to clarify if conflict sensitivity is a viable approach.