Engaging the Business Community as a Peacebuilding Actor
The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement, in partnership with CDA Collaborative Learning Projects and the Peace Research Institute Oslo, has been awarded a major grant by the Carnegie Corporation to explore the spectrum of business engagement – from avoiding negative impacts, to contributing to positive changes in the context, to more directly addressing key drivers of conflict and violence – as it impacts peaceful development. Case studies will examine the effects of business sector actors in conflict contexts in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The project will provide field-based information on the roles of business in both intra- and inter-state conflicts, helping fill the gap in evidence regarding the effectiveness of business efforts for peace.
Deciding Together Curriculum and Facilitator Development
The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement is partnering with Township NPO in its work to develop women's sewing cooperatives in townships surrounding Cape Town. A short training for cooperative members entitled "Deciding Together" is being built around principles of interest-based problem solving. It helps groups get important issues out in the open, explore options, and reach wise decisions while strengthening their working relationships. The training is appropriate for anyone, designed to be accessible to low literacy participants and to be easily adapted across language groups. Participants require no written materials. ACDS is facilitating the curriculum development and the training for trainers, with the expectation that the training programme will be useful in many other contexts as well.
Business in Fragile Environments: Capabilities for Conflict Prevention
Brian Ganson, Head of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement at USB, has published an article titled "Business in Fragile Environments: Capabilities for Conflict Prevention" in the Negotiation & Conflict Management Research Journal (2014, 7(2): 121-139). The article links the practical experience of company managers with conflict management theory to posit that organisational capabilities are a crucial explanatory variable for the gap between desired and observed company performance in fragile contexts. It models a management system for conflict prevention with empirical and theoretical referents. The model provides practitioners with useful diagnostic entry points as they work to improve company operations. At the same time, it brings together diverse conflict management perspectives on company operations in fragile environments so that future case data may be ordered and compared and further theoretical propositions developed and tested.
Company-Community Mediation in Complex Environments
The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement, in partnership with ACCESS Facility, has developed a model curriculum for the training of third-party neutrals capable of helping companies, communities and other stakeholders in complex environments reach rights-compatible, interest-based resolution to their conflicts. The work included extensive outreach to companies, community advocates, mediation experts and sponsors of company-community mediation processes such as international financial institutions to ensure that training would be responsive to the increasing demand for more highly qualified third party neutrals. The project was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.
Management in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders
Companies operating in complex environments require rigorous understanding of the economic, political, social and conflict dynamics of which they become part. Such insight helps them navigate substantial risks and challenges, grow their business even in unexpected places, work more effectively with local, national and international actors, and make meaningful contributions to stability and development. The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement led an intense and fruitful two-year collaboration with the Corporate Engagement and Reflecting on Peace Practice Programs of CDA; the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform; the Institute for Business in the Global Context of The Fletcher School, Tufts University; the IRENE Institute of ESSEC Business School; the International Council of Swedish Industry; and the Stockholm Policy Group. The result is the new book, Management in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders, combining expert analysis, company case stories, and reflections from more than 100 business leaders.
Safeguarding Investments through Company-Community Mediation
Brian Ganson made a presentation on Safeguarding your investment through company-community mediation at the ADR and Arbitration in Africa Conference, hosted by the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce. Speaking to an audience of global ADR specialists, he presented research demonstrating that mediation can be a highly proactive tool for risk reduction and risk mitigation. He argued that, because mediation can help compensate for key social and political functions often missing in complex environments, business can play a leadership role in transforming society through its support for proactive, inclusive mediation. The Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement is the academic partner to the African Commercial Dispute Settlement Centre of the Cape Chamber and the Cape Town International Arbitral Tribunal.