Violent conflict and instability disrupt markets and societies. In 2014, global economic losses due to violent conflict amounted to over US$9.8 trillion. Half of the world’s population lives in high-risk and conflict-affected areas.
The primary responsibility for peace and security rests with governments. However, the private sector can make important contributions through business practices. While there is no single definition for the terms “conflict-affected” or “high risk” areas, the work of the UN Global Compact may be relevant for a variety of contexts, including countries, areas or regions:
- That may or may not be currently experiencing high levels of armed violence, but where political and social instability prevails
- In which there are serious concerns about abuses of human rights and political and civil liberties
- That are currently experiencing violent conflict, including civil wars, armed insurrections, inter-state wars and other types of organized violence
- That are currently in transition from violent conflict to peace
Companies of all forms – small and large, public and private, international and local – face challenges to operating in difficult environments. When companies and investors work to address these complex issues, they can mitigate the related risks and negative impacts. They can also ensure the long-term financial performance of the business, and play an important role in supporting peace and development.
Businesses can be a powerful convener for bringing people together across national and cultural lines. They can create relationships based on a shared sense of identity and purpose, overcoming differences that, in the wider society, are more difficult to surmount.
The UN Global Compact has worked for over 15 years to engage the private sector in this area. We have developed useful resources, convened multi-stakeholder dialogues and established innovative partnerships. We ultimately help businesses reduce corporate risks and enhance their capacity to have a long and lasting impact on the most fundamental of UN goals: peace.