Business and peace: It takes two to tango

Business and peace: It takes two to tango

This report aims to raise awareness of the opportunities and prospects, but also the risks and challenges associated with the business and peacebuilding nexus.

Jobs, according to the 2011 World Bank/UN report ‘Pathways to peace’ and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres’ ‘sustaining peace agenda’, are central in responding to the needs of war-torn societies and fragile contexts.

As the thinking goes: job creation, through economic development and corporate investment, has an important stabilising impact in fragile and conflict settings. Therefore the private sector has a key role to play in peacebuilding.

But is it really that simple? To enable divided communities or people involved in conflict to live better and more peacefully as neighbours, do we just have to create jobs, boost economic development and facilitate investment? Of course, it is not that simple: we have known for decades that business activity can actually drive conflict, and that, in some cases, some businesses profit from conflict.

The relationship between business and peace poses a range of questions:

  • What gaps exist in company practice and standards of responsible business?
  • How much responsibility do investors and banks bear as financiers of private sector development and company projects?
  • How should aid funding best be allocated to ensure that business does not drive conflict?