Many activities of the Working Group Employment for Stability – Johan te Velde

Job creation and collaboration of private sector actors and development practitioners in fragile states has taken centre stage in international thinking on transforming societies coined by fragility and war into peaceful and thriving societies. However, although the link between employment creation and greater stability is widely assumed, there is a need for more field-testing and proof based on positive (or negative) evidence.

In the Netherlands, the recently published IOB evaluation ‘Investeren in stabiliteit (IOB evaluatie – investeren in stabiliteit – het Nederlandse fragiele statenbeleid doorgelicht (translation: Investing in Stability)) states that the effects of peace dividend are sometimes depicted as having too rosy an effect on stability – drawing on the earlier IOB-South Sudan evaluation (Aiding the Peace, A Multi-donor Evaluation of Support to Conflict Prevention and Peace building Activities in Southern Sudan 2005–2010 Final report – December 2010) . Here a reference is made to the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law, which could enable important scientific research into the correlation between employment creation and stability and vice versa.

The Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law forms part of a knowledge management initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The secretariat of the Platform is in the hands of the The Hague Institute for Global Justice. One of its (five) working groups focuses on Employment for Stability (WG) and is facilitated by me. Latest information can be found on the recently launched website www.kpsrl.org.

Indeed, the WG grasps the momentum and brings forward its important agenda. The leading questions are: 1) to what degree does increased employment lead to increased stability and peace in fragile and conflict-affected countries and if so, how does this work? 2) What are different motivations of business and development actors in dealing with these issues? An ultimate consequence of research could be that broadly targeting theories of change, which form the basis for the peace dividend concept, are converted into more specific ones.

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In general, the task of a WG is to involve societal players into a policy debate and to prepare a research agenda. The WG is comprised of practitioners and policy officers from policy research institutes, civil society organisations, universities and the private sector. Since the first WG-meeting was held in January 2013, many activities took place. In March, the WG submitted a first action plan to the Steering Group, introducing the subject and presenting preliminary research questions. At the Institute for Global Justice, a meeting was organised on 3rd June, which brought together development and private sector practitioners. This meeting was very fruitful: the peek into each other’s life’s led to many new ideas and inspired the research agenda.

Now the first research agenda is finished, the Platform will enter into an exciting new phase in which parties as private sector actors, peace building experts and academics will be brought together into a process of cocreation. This is a practical consequence of what The Hague approach calls ‘the responsibility to learn’ (P. 43 ‘.. , therefore, international actors embarking on peace building initiatives must accept that they have a ‘Responsibility to Learn’ (R2L).The Hague Approach – Six Principles for Achieving Sustainable Peace in Post-Conflict Situations, August 2013.) I think, this is an interesting challenge and a unique chance for the Platform.