Peacebuilding and the private sector : regulating business after conflict




Ford, Jolyon Tennyson Randle

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United Nations (UN) peace operations are often at the forefront of efforts to build peace after conflict. They embody universal ideals and seek to give them practical effect during post-contnct peacebuilding. This thesis explores a role for UN peace operations in helping to regulate the peacebuilding impact of one important social group, the business sector. The main hypothesis is that especially during early post-conflict periods UN peace operations can and should take steps to influence business behaviour in ways that increase the possibilities of sustainable peace and of business respect for fundamental standards. Existing scholarship has shown how business factors and activity may have both positive and negative effects on processes to consolidate peace. Meanwhile recent debates on the human rights responsibilities of business have highlighted the need for special policies and institutional initiatives for conflict-affected zones, where local regulators are often weak. But to date scholars and policymakers have not explored a role for peace operations in regulating conflict-sensitive and socially-responsible business practices. This thesis examines how UN peace operations have acted (or omitted to act) to shape the various ways in which business might help or hinder the achievement of peacebuilding goals. The principal finding is that the UN peacebuilding system mainly views businesses as subjects for economic policy. It appears largely blind to businesses as social and political actors. Peace operations have lacked explicit mandates or any strategy to engage with business to minimise harm or maximise positive contributions to peace. The challenge is to find the will and a way to do so. The thesis proposes a normative theory of transitional business regulation. It is appropriate for the UN to assume a temporary role shaping business conduct in the public interest during transitions from conflict to sustained peace. This role should involve stimulating responsible business self-regulation and linking business to multiple networks of oversight and support. In this way peace operations can help address an important possible source of conflict risk or peacebuilding strength, reduce future state regulatory burdens, and catalyse socially-responsible business practices. By opening private business to public values, peace operations would also contribute to wider efforts to promote greater social responsibility in business.






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Open Access

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