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Business and Private Diplomacy: A Potential Catalyst for Sustainable Peace

Strategic Security Analysis - 2017

Key Points

  • Long considered a natural partner for peace through economic diplomacy and bilateral trade agreements, business has increasingly become ignored or demonised.
  • The private sector comprises a wide diversity of organisations and is the part of the economy that is not run by a state, but by individuals and companies for profit.
  • Small businesses/micro-companies serve as a good starting point for a conflict resolution process because they often constitute the only form of economic activity in a conflict zone.
  • MNCs have a range of options to respond to conflict, but cannot openly take part in conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, and rarely become involved officially. Track Two diplomacy is their more likely area of involvement.
  • The United Nations has frequently supported the view that the private sector can be a powerful agent of change. However, the UN still engages only two players in conflict resolution and peacebuilding: civil society/NGOs and armed actors. UN peace operations have never been expressly mandated to consult with business or use its influence to build peace.
  • Combining the resources, expertise and leverage of all possible actors would produce a more formidable force for peace. World affairs would benefit from integrating the private sector into a new UN system of governance; new routes are possible for a truly inclusive approach, recognising the business sector’s positive contribution to sustainable peace through informal mediation and collaborative engagement.