With the depressing news of violence this week, especially from Iraq and Syria, it’s important to reflect on efforts by business leaders and their partners to build foundations for lasting conflict resolution.
To be sure, there are new negative analyses of risks and opportunities in various parts of the world. The Institute for Economics and Peace www.economicsandpeace.org has just reported that “since 2008 111 countries have become less peaceful while only 51 countries have become more peaceful [and] the world has become 4% less peaceful since 2008.” Also, a new study from Business Monitor www.businessmonitor.com forecasts a great disparity in the five-year prospects on economic, political and business environment risks and opportunities around the world.
Such studies, taken with today’s 24/7 news reports of tragic ideological and political violence, prompt the question: If we can’t stop all of these tragedies, can we at least prevent some of them? Sir Mark Moody-Stewart, in his recent Business In Society television interview and his new book,”Responsible Leadership: Lessons From the Front Line” offers some hope.
“There are a lot of things we can do to build peace; to break down barriers between communities and religions …w e provide employment, training for example, with ex-combatants, people who have laid down their arms. If they don’t find gainful, sustainable employment, they are in danger of picking up their old habits.”
Sir Mark, vice of chair of the United Nations Global Compact and chair of the “Business For Peace” Steering Committee, knows from experience how difficult — but centrally important — meeting the visceral needs of citizens in combat zones can be. He, and many other experts in global peace-building, know that the mission requires coordinated, long-term, tripartite commitments among business, civil society and governments.
Despite the current seemingly never-ending distressing media reports, there are examples of regions where long- standing brutal conflict has been tamped down in recent years –Northern Ireland, Serbia, Sri Lanka among them. We must keep that front of mind.