Policy Dialogue in Paris: Peace and conflict prevention: what role for companies?

On Tuesday 26 September 2017, ESSEC IRENÉ organised a policy dialogue in Paris on the role of the private sector in peace and conflict prevention. The event was hosted at the Campus of ESSEC in CNIT, La Défense, and attended by representatives from the Agence française de Développement and from the private sector, researchers and practitioners.

The issue of the role of the private sector in conflict prevention and peacebuilding was first raised in the scoping study (2015) and best practices (2016) reports on multi-stakeholder coherence produced by ESSEC IRENE in the frame of the WOSCAP project. The aim of the research conducted in this frame was to improve EU's capabilities in terms of conflict prevention and peacebuilding through a whole of society approach. In this regards, the lack of consideration of the economic dimension of conflict and peace and the unsufficient – or, sometimes absence of - inclusion of the private sector in peace processes and peacebuilding initiatives appeared as a significant gap that was undermining EU's effort in this field.  The opportunity to develop an economic preventive diplomacy has been addressed with representatives from the EU and from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The first panel was on the presentation of research on peace, conflict prevention and the inclusion of the private sector. This was followed by a discussion with the participants on the meaning of the term "private sector". The second panel was about the opportunities and challenges of enhanced collaboration with companies to improve conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The discussion with the participants particularly focused on the challenges encountered by companies in complex situations, particularly regarding their long term and short term strategies. These discussions allowed to make a summary of the recommendations agreed during the round-table.

The recommendations adopted at the EU level, there is a need to collect good practices in order to develop protocols on the way to react in context of crisis and conflicts and to prevent conflicts. In this regard, it is crucial to adopt these best practices before a crisis breaks out to prevent economic conflicts and ensure to sustain peace. The participants agreed on the necessary implementation of a code of ethics regarding conflict prevention and peace for companies, as well as a practical guide to prevent conflict and contribute to a sustainable peace by putting the emphasis on new scale of values and good practices in terms of corporate social responsibility, human rights and ethics values. In this framework, the development of related specialised training for companies in due diligence and human rights (CSR), on the economic dimension of conflict and peace, supported by research programs, is key.

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