19 April 2022
As the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries, the International Chamber of Commerce has taken a leading role in advocating for business action in response to the war in Ukraine.
Since the conflict’s onset, ICC has mobilised its global network and built historic collaborations with strategic partners to protect lives and livelihoods, support humanitarian efforts and promote business continuity and economic resistance.
Condemning Russia’s violent action and breach of international law
Following the Russian incursion into Ukraine on 24 February, ICC immediately issued a statement on behalf of the global business community, condemning Russia’s breach of international law “in the strongest possible terms” .
The statement also warned of the significant repercussions to come for global supply chains in the weeks and months ahead:
“Setting aside the effect of sanctions, there’s a heavy risk that the production of semiconductors, automobiles and medicines will be severely impacted by the disruption of legitimate business activities in Ukraine – which, in recent years, have become a key supplier of essential metals and raw materials into global value chains.”
Mobilising business in support of those in need
With already thousands of lives lost, and millions of livelihoods destroyed through displacement and lost incomes, the war in Ukraine is becoming the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War.
Under the leadership of ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO, ICC has taken a leading role in advocating for private sector action in response to the humanitarian crisis by leveraging partnerships with UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM, WFP and the WHO Foundation and calling on global business to help provide life-saving care and support to those in need.
Strengthening Ukraine’s economic resistance
In a statement issued by Mr. Denton, ICC called for immediate action to enable the continued functioning of Ukrainian business and proposed a five-point plan to keep Ukraine’s private sector alive and progressively restore the country’s productive capacity.
In this context, ICC also launched a dedicated Centre of Entrepreneurship for Ukraine aimed at strengthening resilience of Ukrainian SMEs and building durable opportunities for refugees. Leveraging the strength of ICC’s global network, the Centre aims to support the survival of Ukrainian SMEs affected by the conflict, by building durable opportunities and hope through entrepreneurship. The Centre will also support the millions of displaced Ukrainians in Europe through access to tools and training aimed at enabling reintegration into the economy and rebuilding meaningful livelihoods.
Drawing from existing programmes in Accra, Beirut, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Casablanca, Istanbul, Jakarta, Lagos and Nairobi, the Centre aims to empower displaced people and business owners – with particular emphasis on women and youth.
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said: “With the war set to have long-lasting consequences on the business and trade environment in Ukraine and beyond, the Centre will provide crucial support to Ukrainian businesses still reeling from two years of the COVID pandemic and now grappling with the devastation and disruption as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
Representing the global private sector
ICC’s leadership in response to the crisis was officialised by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who appointed Mr Denton to represent the global private sector on a new Steering Committee of the Global Crisis Response Group, to address the immense interconnected challenges the world is facing.
Speaking at the GCRG Steering Committee’s second meeting, Mr Denton urged the international community to keep trade and the Ukrainian economy going as much as possible and to support Ukraine’s economic resistance to minimise the global damage of the crisis.
“Only then will we be able to mitigate some of the worst effects of this totally unnecessary crisis,” he said following the launch of the group’s first report. “Developing countries are under the sword of Damocles.”
The ICC Secretary General also reached out to IMF, the World Bank and regional development banks to ask for their assistance in managing the effects of crisis on the legitimate business activities of SMEs across the world.
“While we fully respect the decision of several governments to impose economic sanctions on Russia in recent days, a growing body of anecdotal evidence from our network suggests that the uncertainty caused by the conflict — and related policy interventions — is impacting SME trade in a broader range of sectors than may have been previously envisaged,” reads the open letter.