NOTE: This guest post was written by Dana Terry. Dana is a 2014 M.A. graduate of the Seton Hall University School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Her specializations include International Organizations, Conflict Negotiation/Management, and Post-Conflict Statebuilding. She has previously published pieces on the development agenda (MDGs: How Far We’ve Gotten, The 65th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference in the Eyes of a Blogger), Bosnia & Herzegovina (Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Political Economy and Possibilities for Reform and Why Bosnia and Herzegovina Should Not Be Ignored) and is currently researching the relation between politicized ethnicity and income inequality. Follow her on twitter @DanaTerry
On September 21st, the 2014 Social Good Summit kick started a global dialogue by bringing together over 140 countries around the world to discuss development goals to be achieved by 2030. Amongst the common themes discussed was the need for a development agenda that integrates social, cultural, and economic strategies which utilize innovation and human capital. Arguably, if there is one issue in dire need of an integrative approach, it is the complicated and multifaceted issue of conflict. If we are to make progress towards a conflict-free world, we must engage in activism, cultivate social corporate responsibility, and foster reconciliation.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has lived through conflict. Could you forgive someone who murdered your parents, child, or best friend? Post-conflict reconciliation is a tremendous endeavor, but without it, we cannot have peace. Rami Elhanan of the Forgiveness Project captured this best saying “Without including reconciliation as an integral part of the resolution process, there will be no peace; nothing more than ceasefires.” Documentaries like ‘Beyond Right and Wrong’ and forums like ‘Parent Circle’ are important for reconciliation as they share the stories of people from both sides who lived through brutal conflicts, lost loved ones, and still found a way to forgive one another. It is imperative that we continue to build and foster tools that promote the peaceful image of humanity in the face of violent, hateful propaganda.
Innovation for Corporate Social Responsibility
Many of us rely on the use of computers daily, but did you know that the minerals used to create your processor may have been bought from a militia or rebel group? Militias and rebel groups often use the sale of gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten to fund their violent conflicts. Intel realized that the tech industry was helping to perpetuate civil war through indiscriminant purchases from these groups. Many of the violent conflicts of the world, such as the one in the Congo, aren’t just a social issue, but a supply chain issue. Realizing that the Tech industry needed to remove itself from the role of indirectly financing conflict, Intel created the first ever ‘conflict-free’ processor, and by 2016, Intel aims to make all of its products conflict-free. Intel saw the damage indiscriminate mineral purchases did to conflict zones, and took the initiative to remove themselves from the conflict mineral market. However, it is up to us to make sure we keep ourselves, our schools, and our businesses accountable in their purchases by advocating for conflict-free products.
Advocacy: Our role to play
The “Conflict-free Campus Initiative” seeks to empower students to lobby authorities at their university to refrain from purchasing products that use conflict minerals from the Congo and to put pressure on electronic companies to invest in the Congo’s mineral sector. This initiative draws on the power of youth and university stakeholders to advocate for corporate social responsibility which, if successful, will not only stop the indirect funding of violent conflict in the Congo, but also build the country’s economy— ultimately helping the Congo achieve sustainable peace.
It is truly important to realize the power we as individuals hold when we are willing to come together. By supporting reconciliation tools such as ‘Beyond Right & Wrong’ and ‘Parent Circle’, supporting the socially responsible work of Intel, and engaging in activist initiatives like that of ‘Conflict-free Campus Initiative’, we can help foster a more peaceful world.