Conflict sensitivity in education, the private sector and infrastructure development

Question

What are examples of conflict sensitive approaches and practice in relation to (i.) education, (ii) the private sector, and (iii.) infrastructure development, identifying good practice where available? What are challenges to applying such approaches and practice?

Summary

Conflict sensitivity in education: There has been increasing awareness that education systems are not neutral. Education can exacerbate conflict if it increases social tensions or divisions between groups. This may be the case if: education policies and practice are inequitable; education systems reinforce identity grievances; or educational curricula promote militarism.It is essential to ensure that education interventions themselves do not represent a threat to peace. Conflict sensitivity in education is the process of understanding the context; analysing the two-way interaction between the context and education programmes; and acting to minimise adverse impacts and maximise positive impacts of education interventions on conflict.

There has been a growing shift by those working in the education field from a focus on avoiding negative effects of education interventions (a more narrow view of conflict sensitivity) toward more attention to how education can also address drivers of conflict and make a positive contribution to peacebuilding (a broader view of conflict sensitivity).

Conflict sensitivity in the private sector and infrastructure development:
Similar to aid agencies, companies are not expected to be neutral. Businesses can exacerbate tensions and conflict through:

  • Displacement of communities
  • Unequal distribution of benefits and disadvantages, such as job opportunities, resources, compensation, and environmental impacts
  • Weakening government legitimacy, should they provide a greater degree of public goods and services and/or bypass government procurement processes
  • Insufficient attention to the entire user chain, including ensuring that company-generated revenues, company products, company assets and infrastructure all do not support conflict

Incorporating conflict sensitivity into the private sector entails engaging in business in a way that prevents foreign investors and domestic businesses from causing harm and instead strengthens their ability to contribute to peacebuilding.