A discussion moderated by Timothy Marshall, Chairman, International Institute of Peace Through Tourism

Visit Biographies for more about presenters

How can business handle the key issues in conflict zones?
This session focuses on flashpoint issues that arise in conflict sensitive zones. While some issues are common in any business settings, certain issues recur that businesses must address as part of their overall strategic focus.

Key Issues in Doing Business in Conflict Zones
Watch the three videos and join the discussion with presenters below.

Igor Abramov, Counsel, Heenan Blaikie LLP

"Building Peace in Fragile States: Building Trust is Essential for Effective Public-Private Partnerships"(5:48)

Don Mayer, Professor of Business Ethics and Legal Studies, University of Denver

"Peace Through Commerce and Private Militaries"(3:36)

Tara Radin, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania

"Justice and Reconciliation in Post-Conflict Markets"(6:10)

Working Papers

Discussion: How can business mitigate the key issues in conflict zones?

- While some issues are common in any business settings, which issues recur that businesses can address as part of their overall strategic focus?

Views: 445

Replies to This Discussion

Shane, you make a very good point about making sure that everyone is "playing by the rules". It should be the job of these Olympic oversight committees to insure that the possible locations can sustain the immense toll that Olympics takes on a city. Joshua makes a great point as well, it would be great if they would offer an ultimatum to these countries with poor human rights records, but the real issue is, how are these countries even getting to host the Olympics in the first place? Are these Olympic committees just closing their eyes to the fact that these countries are doing things that could show the host countries in a bad light?

The sports world is one that has a great opportunity to impact many different countries. Sports are in all countries big and small, and the Olympics is just one (mind you very large scale) way we can set an example for the rest of the world. Even countries like Iraq, Iran, China and others that we have had our troubles with have their own sports teams and everyone from the lower to the upper class follows sports. We, and other nations need to use sports as way to reach out and set an example for our political and business counterparts.
I think a main aspect for business to focus on when conducting business in conflict zones remains in the trust between all people involved. As seen in Igor Abramov's "Building Peace in Fragile States – Building Trust is Essential for Effective Public-Private Partnerships" It is important to acknowledge just how large of a community business affects.

Igor- my question to you is in regard to the "best" ways for companies to instill confidence and trust throughout its native people. There are certainly vast barriers to overcome, and just by acting in a responsible way will not necessarily lead to this trust. Due to the general government's failing to act appropriately I would think this is a huge problem that the Private Sector faces. In your paper you cite four-phase protocols as a good framework for the Private Sector to follow. In your research have you found this is the "best" way, and if so, are there regions or particular commerce that will promote the greatest acheivement of commerce and peace in such zones.

Thank you, and I look forward to your response.

Daniel, you state that it is important for all actor involved to have trust. And while I agree that some degree of trust is warranted, I think that before a stakeholder can be trusting of a company that they need to see some reason to develop that trust. If a firm does not have a CRS and does not prescribe to CSR then what reason should a stakeholder have to trust that firm?

Igor, you talk about public-private partnership and grassroots programs to address corruption. What I am wondering is how you think that these programs could be applied to developed nations. While this was built for developing nations where corruption is more widespread, do you think that it could as easily applied to the developed world where corruption is not as systemic but still a problem that sometimes comes up?
It is extremely difficult to conduct correct strategy to enter into conflict zones. It clear from watching videos that building strong trusts between entering party and the accepting party. Figuring out what they need, developing common mandate, developing co-participation to figure out ways that both parties can make a profit. It is important to develop ways entering party does not exclude accepting party's culture. In most cases, those cultures between two parties will be different in many ways so bringing in expertise to figure out the right ways to communicate between different cultures seems very important.
Since becoming involved with the war on terror, private security firms have played a public role in the debate on interrogation and human rights, which often evokes negative opinions from citizens. As a result, private military firms in the US have become known for aggression and unethical practices. One U.S. private military firm felt so much domestic outrage, its firm’s board of directors chose to rename, re-brand and completely reintroduce the firm. The Firm formally known as Blackwater came under considerable scrutiny after it’s aggressive interrogation techniques used in Iraq became public. Now under the new name Xenon, the firm looks to re-enter the private security market with a more positive image.

My question is, should private military firms work to re-brand public image or does public opinion not a priority to such firms?
In terms of addressing recurring issues that businesses can address as part of their overall strategic focus, it seems that businesses need to address the issues of creating trust and goodwill among stakeholders. These stakeholders not only include suppliers, employees, and customers, but the public sector as well. In all countries, but especially in conflict zones, trust and cooperation between the sectors (both public and private) and their constituents seems to be the key to long term profitability, sustainability, and the creation of harmony.
I believe Mexico's tourism industry will get affected by to an extent and limit, due to the Swine Flu. Although the flu has borken out as a level 5 threat level by the World Health Organization, its being controlled by a great extent. Since treatment has been working for people who got the flu, this should not increase to a level six pandemic level. I think that by spring break next year, most people especially students will forget about what had happened witht the flu and continue crossing the border into mexico, with its attractive beaches and what it has to offer.
The recovery phase might take a while but their peso will increase in value and their economy will gain strength in the future.
Its very interesting what David mentioned about Iraq and their struggle to increase their tourism industry. Now this countries tourism would need a significant support by other countries, as well as the local communities will to develop the country after their massive conflicts with in their community.

I believe that the only way Iraq will re-establish a succesful tourism industry is with the help of their neighboring countries that include: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Qatar. Iraq is in need of help in order to boost their tourism, and neighboring countries such as these have the will and power to do that.

But whats even more important is for the people of Iraq to get a long together, since they are divided mainly into Sunnis Shia's and Kurds. They still maintain hatred of one another and continually fight each other. This is the main problem in Iraq that should be the first issue that should be resolved.
The main incentive for MNC's to involve themselves in conflict countries is typically due to the existence of natural resource-based assets for extractive purposes. MNC's enter a conflict country and often times strip the country of its own wealth.... the diamond industry is a good example. Governments and world regulators need to instate regulations that prevent MNC's from stripping these countries. Rules need to be established that require these MNC's to give back to the countries that they are profiting from.


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