The United Nations Global Compact is an initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption.
One of the focus areas of the Global Compact is peace, exploring both how business can impact, and is impacted by, peace and conflict. Although the primary responsibility for peace and security rests with governments, the private sector can have a significant influence through its commercial activities.
The UN Global Compact has put together a range of resources to assist companies around Business for Peace, many of which can also be used by business schools, not only in CSR courses, but across all core courses. Here is a brief overview of just some of the resources available through the UN Global Compact and PRME around peace.
In 2013, the Global Compact launched Business for Peace (B4P), a leadership platform that assists companies in implementing responsible business practices and identifying and managing business risks and opportunities. Academics are invited to support B4P by integrating business and peace issues and awareness into management education, business school curricula and related research. Schools are also encouraged to connect with Local Global Compact Networks to engage in national projects in this area.
Two main publications have been developed on this topic. The first, Guidance on Responsible Business in Conflict-Affected & High-Risk Areas: A Resource for Companies and Investors, aims to assist companies in implementing responsible business practices in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. It seeks to provide a common reference point for constructive dialogue between companies and investors on what constitutes responsible business practices in difficult operating enviornments. This publication is also available in Spanish and Mandarin.
Responsible Business Advancing Peace: Examples from Companies, Investors & Global Compact Local Networks provides a range of case studies of how companies are aligning their policies, engaging with investee companies and advancing the implementation of responsible business practices in difficult operating environments around the world. These short case studies provide an introduction to the background and specific situation, actions taken, challenges, outcomes. Each case study also provides a very useful list of 5 major lessons learned.
A few topic-specific publications are also available. Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High Risk Areas explores the unique nature of water challenges in conflict-affected or high-risk areas and how this can in turn affect business operations. Public Policy For Conflict-Sensitive Business identifies a range of concrete actions that Governments and international organisations can undertake to better assist private-sector efforts to promote effective conflict-sensitive business practices.
Other publications and initiatives that can be of interest include the Voluntary Principles on Seucirty and Human Rights, which are guidelines specifically designed for the extractive sector companies. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has a publication Business and Decent Work in Conflict Zones: A Why and How Guide, offering practical tips for companies of all sizes looking to build a more peaceful and productive environment within the company itself and in the surrounding context, and thus play an important role in peace building.
A series of webinars on the topic are also available to use in the classroom. Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum: Doing Business in Conflict-Affected Countries addresses how businesses can operate responsibly in conflict-affected or fragile countries and weak governance zones to ensure that operations contribute to peacebuilding, and provides some best practice examples. Also, Business Action in Support of the Rule of Law – An Example in Mynamar explores what the rule of law means for business, as well as the rationale for private sector engagement in these issues. A short summary of the Business for Peace platform is also available through this 22 minute podcast.
Every year the Oslo Business for Peace Awards are given to individual corporate leaders who foster peace and stability by creating shared value between business and society. The global nomination process is conducted in partnership with B4P, and individuals are nominated through Local Global Compact Networks, with which schools can connect. This year, following the occasion of International Day of Peace on the 21st of September 2014, the Global Compact hosted its inaugural Annual Business for Peace Event, in cooperation with participating Local Networks in Istanbul, Turkey, at which academics and researchers were well-represented. Following this event, PRME officially launched its PRME-B4P Workstream, composed of academics from five countries, supporting diverse projects with the aim to provide tools for incorporating business for peace into management education, and encourage the sustained widespread integration of contributions to peace into company operations and strategy. The next Annual B4P Event will be held in 7 May 2015 in Oslo, Norway.