An interview with Dr. Kazuo Takahashi, Director of DEVNET Internationalabout peace-building
Q. Dr. Takahashi, you have been active for decades internationally in various capacities at OECD, International foundations, research institutes and universities in such fields as peace and international development and now you are the Director of DEVNET International, among other things. What do you think about DEVNET International’s rolls for peace ?
A. DEVNET International aims for sustainable development through promoting small and medium sized enterprises, an approach which has been missing in international development cooperation of last half a century. This approach maximizes employment for sustainable development, thus creating a middle class in developing countries.
The implications of this new approach to issues on peace are critically important. Peace, which has a number of relevant factors that should be considered, has three distinctive phases. A preventive phase which is currently a major concern of the United Nations Secretary-General Gutteres; Mediation and conflict resolution; And Post-conflict peace building.
DEVNET International can have important rolls in a preventive phase and also in post-conflict peace building but not in mediation or conflict resolution. In the preventive phase, one important measure is to enhance stability of relevant countries or if it is related to a civil war in the offing, calming down the potentially conflicting social groups. Strengthening the middle class is the most effective approach to realize these objectives. At the same time, a strengthened middle class often (but not always) promotes multi-party democracy which is a powerful mechanism for preventing a violent conflict. In support to Mr. Guterres concerns, DEVNET International should consider ways to cooperate with UN agencies for targeting small and medium sized enterprises in developing countries, with the purposes of strengthening preventive measures for peace.
Post-conflict peace building since the ’90s has become an important instrument to deal with civil wars which broke out in the context of the tectonic changes of the international society, as the result of the end of the Cold War. Starting with humanitarian aid, followed by peace building, leading to development, well over one hundred efforts have been attempted for the past quarter of a century. While there have been some successes, many of these efforts ended up in violent conflicts resurgence. It has been broadly recognized that the major weakness is related to the transition from peace building to development. Seamless transition, as a concept, has been supported. However, the question “how?” has not been answered.
The DEVNET International’s answer is the creation of employment which strengthens the middle class through development of small and medium sized enterprises.
The international community is looking for a new approach to sustainable development in the post-pandemic world. DEVNET International, which was started by Dr. Roberto Savio in a brilliant manner in the 80’s, and which now is being leaded by Mr. F. Akegawa, will offer a new model of sustainable development and peace. Based on experiences of cooperation with Vietnam and Thailand, a search for broader application of the Akegawa approach is now starting, an Asian approach aiming for global application.