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Businesses are complex social networks of people brought together for individual and collective purposes.  The role of business in contributing to social advancement has been mixed.  At their weakest and most pitiable, businesses are organizations corrupted by greed and ignorance, and, when so corrupted, businesses have been willing abettors of war and conflict irrespective of the moral justification for the conflict. However, at their best businesses are engines of service, innovation, and social transformation that have contributed greatly to the reduction in poverty and improving the lives of people around the world. In countless ways, the advance of human civilization has been driven by business.  And from this perspective, when inspired by a social conscience, businesses have the capacity to be leaders in creating more peaceful societies.

Economic development is central to the mission of Pax Populi because we recognize that poverty is a source of great suffering and tension that can lead to violence, community ruptures, and international conflicts.  The time has come and is long overdue to draw on the powerful capacities business can and should have in advancing peace.

In September 2013, the United Nations Global Compact launched its Business for Peace (B4P) initiative to “assist companies in implementing responsible business practices that are aligned with the Global Compact principles in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The platform also catalyzes collaborative practical action to advance peace by leveraging business influence on the workplace, marketplace and local communities.”[1] Pax Populi applauds this initiative by the UN Global Compact and will support it by encouraging businesses and all those individual and institutional stakeholders connected with them to support the creation of a worldwide movement to enlist business in the cause of peace.[2]

Businesses have capabilities far beyond what they typically imagine to advance peace. As Pax Populi peace workers, our job is to help alert businesses to these important capacities and encourage them to act thereon.  Here are a few examples of steps that can be taken to help advance the Business for Peace movement.

  • Businesses should model peace in their internal operations by providing a safe and humane work environment in which all people regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, or other identity factors are respected and cared for.
  • As the aforementioned universal respect and care are the fundamental principles for peace, this commitment should be clearly expressed in the organization’s codes of conduct.
  • Businesses should extend the same principle of respect to all their stakeholders and, in so doing, demonstrate their commitment to peace in the wider communities in which they operate.
  • Every business school should embrace Business for Peace and find ways to integrate it into their educational platforms in a manner similar to the way business ethics has become an integral part of business education for all reputable business schools everywhere.
  • National ministries of commerce and chambers of commerce should champion Business for Peace and support it through their policies with the aim of encouraging businesses to embrace the important role they can have in creating peaceful societies.
  • Organizations should join with the UN Global Compact in supporting Business for Peace by signing the Statement of Support of Business Leaders and Global Compact Local Networks at: https://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/Peace_and_Business/B4P_signatory_page.pdf.
  • Inform us at Pax Populi about businesses, organizations, and individuals and the activities they are taking to act on the Business for Peace mission. We will try to keep a record of these supporters and acknowledge their commitments on our website.
  • By supporting Pax Populi financially, you can also help us to build our capacities to advance this important form of people-to-people peacebuilding.

Typically, people associate the role of peace-building with governments and nongovernmental organizations, not businesses. However, without the conscious and active engagement of business, the world is missing what could be one of its most valuable partners for the advancement of peace. Given the pervasive impact of business on society, Business for Peace has a potential for good that humanity cannot afford to squander.

At Pax Populi we believe we are in the early stages of what may become a global Business for Peace movement. If so, such a movement will change the received understanding of what it means to be a successful business.

As employees, customers, and simply members of society, we are all stakeholders in the businesses that operate in our communities. This provides each one of us with the right and duty to encourage businesses to join with the Business for Peace movement.  Business is a power too big to ignore.  By engaging businesses in the struggle for peace, we are acting to protect and honor the gift of our precious planet and the precious life that dwells on it.

Pax!

[1] https://www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/conflict_prevention/index.html (accessed on 16 April 2015)

[2] Acting upon this commitment, on April 14, 2015, in his position as Director of Programs at the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University, Pax Populi founder and director, Robert E. McNulty hosted Melissa Powell, Head of Strategy and Partnerships, and the Business for Peace (B4P) initiative at the United Nations Global Compact, to speak at Bentley University on B4P. A video recording of this talk can be seen by clicking on this link. http://ezwp.tv/V4jdV8N

 

 

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