Business as an Instrument of Peace

Symposium in Oslo

Please note: This page refers to an event that has already taken place.

Time: Mon, 17 October 2011 08:30

​​PRIO is collaborating partner in the Business for Peace Symposium 2011. PRIO will in particular be involved in the Research Symposium, while involved in other parts of the programme as well.

Please follow this link to read more about the impressive programme of the day, as well as practical information about venues and the free registration.

For those who cannot participate, please follow this link for streaming of the event.


The Symposium will investigate how business can work together with other stakeholders to promote the building of trust, leading to stability and peace.

The 2011 Research Symposium is in three parts. A breakfast debate at Litteraturhuset is followed by a presentation of detailed research findings at Oslo Konserthus – transport will be arranged. A late afternoon gathering at Oslo City Hall will discuss the highlights from the day’s presentations. A number of the contributors are English speakers, and the symposium will be conducted in English.

The day is a collaboration between:
OECD National Contact Point Norway (OECD NCP Norway)
United States Institute of Peace (USIP)
Institute for Corporate Responsibility (ICR-GWU)
International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR)
Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Business for Peace Foundation (BfPF)
‘Peace through Trade’ is a motto held high by many, while skeptics maintain that trade instead often contributes to conflict and instability. During the 2011 Business for Peace Symposium, groundbreaking research will be presented providing insights into how business and society best can work together in order to create the essential shared values that help foster stability and peace, in national and international contexts.
Not any kind of trade and economics, or any kind of business activity, may have such a positive effect.  Colonialism, factories abusing workforces, and cronyism, for example, may sow the seeds for frustration and violence.  Underneath the names and policies of “trade” are specific, concrete interactions among parties that may or may not be positive and constructive. An important aspect to consider is the nature of the interactions of particular businesses, particular business people, and particular stakeholders such as employees, shareholders, consumers, and members of the community.
09.00-10.30 Breakfast debate at Litteraturhuset (House of Literature). “Business in Development – from conflict to collaboration.” Leaders from business, politics and society join for debate. How are businesses dealing with the challenge posed by human rights and concern for the environment? How can Norwegian authorities contribute to assist businesses facing stricter demands? Can dialogue and mediation of disputes be effective approaches in conflict resolution between businesses and local societies? (Breakfast served from 08.30)


11.00-15-00 Research Presentations at Oslo Konserthus:

The findings of the «Business and Peace Task Force» will be presented for the first time. It is the result of a collaboration between the Institute for Corporate Responsibility at the George Washington University School of Business, and the United States Institute of Peace.
«Peacebuilding in conflict-affected regions requires much more than boots on the ground, peace accords, security arrangements and focused diplomacy.  Practitioners, scholars and policymakers agree that success in this regard requires the effective leverage of all stakeholders – including the business sector.  This would facilitate a lasting end to protracted and costly conflict, and deliver tangible peace dividends.»

The Peace Research Institute of Oslo will present «Capitalist Peace – is Economic Exchange as Important to International Peace as Democratic Institutions?»
The presentation will cover factors conducive to economic growth and the intensification of business relationships. The controversial notion of ‘Capitalist Peace’ is proposed: that free markets and solid protection of property rights are as important as democratic institutions for international peace. Håvard Hegre has led the team of researchers responsible for the study.

16.00-19.00 Philosopher’s Challenge – Business for Peace Summit at Oslo City Hall:
Is it naïve to propose that business can contribute significantly to the building of stability and peace?
As the day’s earlier event will have shown, there are certain guidelines that have proven effective, and that have resulted in considerable benefits for companies that pursued a more ethical and responsible approach in doing business. As will also be seen, important drivers such as the Internet and social media have a global reach, and are forcing businesses to listen and adapt in ways that government regulation may fail to achieve.


For the afternoon session, philosopher and PRIO Senior Researcher Henrik Syse is going to challenge the research presented earlier in the day. This should prove both interesting and rewarding. Henrik Syse was in charge of developing the ethical investment framework for the world’s largest sovereign fund, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund. His extensive experience with the topic of ethical business, and his lively and inquiring mind, will ensure a thorough vetting of the claim that business can be an instrument of peace. The goal of his challenge is to delineate what approaches business must adopt in order to unleash the considerable peace building potential that too often goes unrealized.

A panel discussion will follow, where business leaders and policymakers will consider the findings presented during the day.