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Monday, 30 January 2017

New publication \ Is Conflict Sensitivity Applicable to Employment?

“Conflict-sensitivity” is a catchword that addresses business practices in environments of armed conflict. BICC Working Paper 1\2017 introduces the term “conflict-sensitive employment” in order to shift the focus towards the job-related role of private business in conflict environments.

Road construction in Afghanistan. Photo: K. Mielke\BICC

The authors Elke Grawert, BICC, Dirk Hansohm, Economic Policy Advisory Services, and Rabia Nusrat, International Alert, critically analysed relevant documents and scholarly debates which reveals major dilemmas: The almost complete absence of a regulatory state in the fragile and conflict-affected settings (FCAS) where protracted violence usually occurs contradicts the principle of the rule of law. The profit-orientation of investors and companies venturing into business in FCAS primarily tends to eclipse efforts towards decent employment. Workers may prefer offers provided by the war economy over civilian employment if it does not open up a long-term perspective.

The Working Paper (joint publication by BICC and International Alert) identifies two disparate narratives underlying the debate: The liberal peace ideal with its presumption of a harmonious society informs approaches to assign peacebuilding tasks to the private sector. A political economy perspective reveals that corrupt states and governments are an integral part of political marketplaces organized in the interest of businesspeople and competing powerholders. The tentative result of the analysis is that conflict-sensitive employment may be possible if it pays. Empirical research at the micro-level in FCAS is required to clarify if conflict- sensitivity is a viable approach.