Strengthening the capacity of business to contribute to building peace in Afghanistan

Summary:

This policy brief provides recommendations for international donors on providing support to and investing in strengthening the capacities of medium-sized enterprises in Afghanistan and other fragile contexts.

With various regional economic projects currently underway – such as China’s One Belt, One Road, China and Pakistan’s China–Pakistan Economic Corridor and the United States’ New Silk Road Initiative – regional connectivity and Afghanistan’s involvement in these initiatives have been a key discussion point for the government of Afghanistan as well as other countries in the region and global powers.

Afghanistan recognises that it can play an important part in regional connectivity, and the government’s strategy is to improve infrastructure investment efficiency to maximise this opportunity. It also expects to create employment and growth opportunities for Afghanistan. If approached in the right way, this investment in Afghanistan’s economy can enhance capital, skills, infrastructure and employment, as well as contribute to long-term peace and development of the country.

However, while this investment can bring opportunities for Afghanistan, there are also risks that if not handled in a conflict-sensitive way, this may aggravate long-standing and current conflict dynamics in the region. Investors and government, therefore, need to take steps to handle the challenges of operating in conflict-affected environments such as Afghanistan and, in doing so, to minimise the potential risks associated with investment and to maximise contribution to peace and stability.

The aim of this policy brief is to ensure that employment creation is conflict sensitive and that economic development can contribute to lasting peace. The recommendations are based on learning from the project, ‘Conflict-sensitive employment under construction: Peace and stability strategies for the private sector in Afghanistan’, as well as International Alert’s work globally.

This policy brief is produced as part of a project partnership between the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), The Liaison Office (TLO) and International Alert.