Open Debate on "The role of business in conflict prevention,
peacekeeping and post conflict peace building" 
Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, 
Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
Security Council, New York, 15 April 2004

The Brazilian Delegation welcomes the opportunity of participating in this enriching exchange of views. We appreciate your bringing before us today the very challenging subject of the role of business in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post conflict peace building. 

We do not underestimate the influence of complex internal and external economic interests in inter-state and intrastate conflict. On many instances, economic factors such as disputes over natural resources or international markets may  have contributed to generate or escalate war. Nevertheless, companies also have a lot to lose with war and conflict. Business is normally built on the basis of an aversion to risk, and a stable political and social environment actually 
means reduced risk. Business also has a clear interest in reducing risk by working towards conflict prevention and helping reconstruct economies after war. This morning, Dr. von Pierer, speaking for Siemens, provided us with a good example of business vision, and of the contribution it can give to peace building efforts.

The primary and most evident role of business activity in promoting peace and stability is the generation of wealth. Business activity creates opportunities for desperately needed income generation in war-torn countries. When business is on the rise, so do investment, employment and the availability of essential goods. Infrastructure and technological development will also benefit from increased economic activity.

Companies also contribute to peace through the empowerment of communities. Their comparative advantages can be used in areas such as human resources and management skills development, support of civil society, economic empowerment and promotion of equitable hiring and better labor standards.

Private business may also assist in conflict management either by refraining from assuming attitudes that would worsen conflict or by acting within the framework of a coherent national development policy, thus contributing to economic sustainability. The private sector can contribute to implement governmental programs, including in the fields of foreign aid and humanitarian assistance, in partnership with local authorities, the civil society and the international community.

In this context, the role of regional and sub regional cooperation acquires particular importance. Last week, we were pleased to hear accounts on how regional cooperation is helping rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan and how regional joint action is being taken to face drug trafficking, which constitutes a central problem for that country and in the end for all of us. Regional economic development strategies lead to sustained stabilization and must be regarded as an important dimension to peace building efforts.

We must remain aware, though, that the private sector alone, acting out of “enlightened self-interest”, will not create the ideal environment for promoting peace. Its action, important as it is, is not a substitute for the essential role played by public authorities. The latter have primary
responsibility for providing incentives to economic activity, investing in social and economic development, encouraging partnerships and carrying out sound public policies in areas 
such as trade, agriculture and industry. Decisive action of public authorities in those areas must be supported by inter-governmental organizations and peace-keeping agencies. 

On a broader scope, public authorities must also be able and willing to take measures related to the rule of law, property rights and sound economic management, and be ready to fight
corruption. Those measures will help create a favorable environment for the development of business and its engagement in recovery and reconstruction efforts. Special attention must be paid to incentives to small and medium enterprises, due to their potential for job creation.

Mr. President,

On one hand, the benefits of business engagement in promoting economic development and social justice are very significant, and it must be especially encouraged in reconstruction
programs. On the other hand, in order to prevent negative involvement of business actors in conflict, their activity must be subject to public scrutiny. And, not the least, good practices must be recognized.

In the field of standard-setting for corporate practices, we note with great satisfaction the Global Compact Initiative, launched by the Secretary-General in 1999. In the effort to create a more inclusive and sustainable global economy, the program has brought together businesses and UN agencies, workers’ associations and civil society, helping promote fundamental principles of corporate citizenship and increase  corporate support for corporate responsibility practices.

Many Brazilian enterprises participate in the Global Compact Initiative, which is firmly supported by our Government. Brazil favors a closer cooperation between business and the
United Nations.

The case of conflict diamonds offers a good example of how the international community can act to curb negative effects of trade. We welcome the fact that the General Assembly, in
Resolution 58/290, adopted yesterday, April 14, 2004, strongly supports the Kimberley Process of international certification, an important tool in the effort to reduce the role played by diamonds trade in financing armed conflict. Security Council resolution 1459 (2003) has also supported the ongoing process, and Brazil has incorporated it into its domestic legislation.

The role of business in conflict management is being increasingly taken into account by development initiatives. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), for
instance, launched in 2001 to help fight poverty, underdevelopment and marginalization in the continent, incorporates the idea of mobilizing resources with private sector participation to contribute to create a favorable environment for conflict prevention and the prevalence of
peace.

Mr. President,

History offers a number of examples of involvement of business in international and intrastate conflict. The new, modern international awareness of business role and responsibilities in times of conflict will certainly help make business an indissociable ally of peace, together with
the UN family, the international finance institutions and
NGOs.

In particular, we share the views exposed by the President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Marjatta Rasi, to the effect that much more can be done by the General Assembly, the Security Council and ECOSOC, working together, to develop a comprehensive and more rapid response for countries in special situations, and also to envisage a long-term perspective towards both sustainable development and conflict prevention.

Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo recalled the cases of cooperation being provided to Guiné Bissau and Burundi. We believe that such cooperation should be expanded. 

Mr. President,

Active business participation is crucial not only for economic development but also for social justice, and has a sure impact on peace building.

The Brazilian Delegation is ready to participate in all efforts towards enhancing the cooperation between the UN and the business sector in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building.