Partners and objective
Diakonia was the lead agency for a joint project developed in collaboration with the Church of Sweden, the School of Global Studies and the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. The objective of the project was to develop concepts and promote tools to support and encourage the corporate sector to avoid reinforcing negative impact on conflict but rather strengthen positive impact. This entails avoiding fuelling conflicts, assuming a people-centered perspective and ensuring doing no harm to local communities, and thus promoting more sustainable business practices in situations of conflict and post-conflict.
A reference group, gathering expertise from a variety of different perspectives from the private sector, development organisations and academia, supported the project to ensure the overall focus and relevance of the outputs. The reference group included the International Council of Swedish Industry, Ethix SRI Advisors, Global Engagement Services, Swedwatch, Enact Sustainable Strategies, the Church of Sweden, Swedfund, Sandvik and Atlas Copco. The project was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and was implemented from February 2012 to December 2013. The primary target group is the Scandinavian corporate sector, but other national and international corporations, government agencies as well as development actors are also part of the target group.
The fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Busan, South Korea in 2011, identified the private sector and conflict-affected states as key priorities in the international development agenda. This placed security and development high on the international agenda and conflict sensitivity has emerged as a critical tool to adapt aid in these types of environments. Conflict sensitivity may be defined as the ability to understand the context in which you operate and the interaction between your intervention and the context, as well as the ability to act upon this understanding to avoid negative effects and to maximise positive impacts. Whereas conflict sensitivity has gained currency among international donors and development agencies since the 1990’s, developments of similar methods have not been developed to its full potential in the private sector. However, efforts have been done in the field of corporate responsibility to clarify the responsibility of corporations in relation to business ethics, environment and human rights. This project intends to contribute to these developments.
The project tests a new concept, Commercial Conflict Dependent Actors (CCDA), defined as an actor, or a group of actors, which has based or adjusted its actions to an armed conflict in such a way as to benefit financially from it. However, a CCDA may exist during the active phase of an armed conflict as well as in a post-conflict situation. A CCDA can be an individual actor, a group of actors or an entire sector, and may vary greatly from one context to another.
Conflict-affected and high-risk areas
The United Nations defines conflict-affected and high-risk areas as situations in which the following conditions often prevail: “human rights violations; presence of an illegitimate or unrepresentative government; lack of equal economic and social opportunity; systematic discrimination against parts of the population; lack of political participation; poor management of revenues, including from natural resources; endemic corruption; and chronic poverty with associated heightened risks and responsibilities.” The main focus here is not defining exactly which countries and areas that could be defined as conflict-affected and high- risk areas, as no such list exists since those contexts are constantly changing and evolving. However, what should be stressed are the heightened risks and responsibilities that come with engaging in this type of contexts.