The first edition of the Trade for Peace Week of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which commenced on 30 November and to end on 4 December 2020 would explore the nexus between trade and peace, with the focus on fragile and conflict-affected countries in accession which want to use trade and economic integration to promote sustainable and inclusive peace.
In announcing the Trade for Peace Week, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff noted: “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes international trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction that contributes to the promotion of sustainable development. This in turn can facilitate building and maintaining peace. The connection between trade and peace is the raison d’être for the creation of the rules-based multilateral trading system that led to economic recovery and prosperity after the devastation from World War II.”
Currently, 23 countries are in the process of joining the WTO, and over a half of them suffer from a fragile situation from years of conflicts. Launched in 2017, the Trade for Peace initiative aims to assist fragile and conflict-affected (FCA) countries through WTO accession, with the emphasis on institution building based on the principles of non-discrimination, predictability, transparency and the rule of law. Based on experiences of former FAC countries, WTO accession can help set the conditions to move out of a state of fragility or conflict into a state of stability, economic well-being and peace.
The first edition of the Trade for Peace Week would bring together officials from the WTO community, international partners involved in peace building, the private sector and academia. Building on earlier activities organized by the WTO Secretariat, this week-long event is aimed at deepening the conversation on the linkages between trade and peace and identifying areas of collaboration between the trade and peace communities, especially in FCA countries in accession.
Each session is organized in collaboration with a partner with distinct expertise and experience which can make a unique contribution to the trade for peace debate. A broad range of topics relevant to trade and peace are covered, including the use of technology, the role of business, empirical work, job creation, and challenges in the times of COVID-19. Some sessions will have a special focus on countries or a region involved in WTO accession, such as Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and the Horn of Africa.
The week kicked off with a panel discussion on “Tech in Trade for Peace” and is organized in collaboration with the United Nations Technology Bank.