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Business In Conflict Zones

Business In Conflict Zones

Conflict zones in terms of armed conflicts numbered 35 in 2015 of which some of them are in the immediate neighborhood of Turkey from Black Sea / Caucasus region down to Middle East.

Experts suggest that some 250.000 people die every year in armed conflicts, most of which are intrastate conflicts rather than interstate ones.  The World Bank estimates that the global economic cost for all conflicts exceeds 100 billion USD each year.  In fact, according to the World Bank, one in four people in the world today (i.e. more than 1.5 billion) live in fragile and conflict-affected situations; while it is estimated that by 2015, this number will grow to 32% of the world’s population.

The armed conflicts impact on virtually all aspects of society including law and other, human rights, socioeconomic development, education, basic health services, and the environment.  Also of concern is their prevention as the instability that comes with them seeps across borders and cause terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking, environmental degradation and exploitation, and small arms sales.

From a business standpoint, some of the challenges of having access to conflict zones are the same as those faced by the international community.  One of the challenges of the business community comes from the rising expectation over corporate responsibility and the application of relevant international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of 2011, which provide clarity and a framework for corporate responsibility with regard to human rights, including in conflict zones.

The need to develop the requisite tools to address challenges on the ground by assisting corporations identify, prevent and moderate human rights risks remains a high priority.

While many companies have adopted human rights policies and practices and are accountable to them, few have taken into account the specificity of operating in conflict contexts in their CSR policies. The impact of globalization and the growing role of the business into conflict zones make a private enterprise an actor of relevance (in some cases an international actor much like states or international organizations or international humanitarian NGOs) in armed conflicts. This implies the need for sustainable CSR practices and policies in conflict and post- conflict situations.

Also read:  What is next in post-Daesh Syria? #SyriaWar

To recapitulate sustainable CSR practices in conflict zones imply:

  • Understanding the local and regional dynamics
  • Developing the appropriate toolbox to address challenges on the ground by assisting corporations identify, prevent and moderate human rights risks remains a high priority
  • Thinking in term of conflict sensitivity terms and focusing on cultural sensitivities
  • Conducting separate human rights risk assessments
  • Sustaining staff and manager training programs on the ground
  • Making use of local and regional expertise to help develop and sustain the requisite CSR practices.

So, whatever you are doing, do it properly.

Serdar Dinler

President
Corporate Social Responsibility Association of Turkey

 

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