Legal Encounter on Corporate Social Responsibility in Palestine

The Institute of Law at Birzeit University, in partnership with Konrad Adeanaur Stiftung, organized a legal encounter in Gaza discussing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the private sector in Palestine, featuring Raed Halas, the economic researcher at the Palestine Planning Center and Ghassan Abuhatab, the projects coordinator at Birzeit’s Center for Development Studies-Gaza Strip.

Halas started the encounter by referring to the different definitions of the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). However all conceptual frameworks agree that the term refers to the operation of the private sector in a manner that accounts for the social and environmental impact created by an entity or business to enhance its position in the local community, Halas pointed out.

According to Halas, the business sector owes moral responsibility to the society, and has to contribute to its sustainable economic development. He added that Corporate Social Responsibility is a commitment to protecting and improving the lives of workers and the communities in which companies do business, in addition to enhancing the quality and efficiency of the services that the companies’ offer.

The importance of social responsibility projects comes amid the economic wrongdoings and its negative implications on societies, including injustices between countries; the inability of countries to control its own economy; and its inability to protect local producers from the different environmental risks and disasters.

Halas showed how the private sector drives economic growth and enhances employability. Focusing on Palestine, he pointed out to the positive role that the private sectors play in contributing to the growth of the economy in a sustainable manner that creates long-term employment. Palestine’s private sector, according to Halas, contributed greatly to the GDP with a percentage of 78.9%, between the years 1997-2016, and it tackled the problem of unemployment by providing 66.7% of the employability opportunities to Palestinians.

Abuhatab commented on Halas’ intervention by saying that the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility is still complicated and inaccurate. The Arab world, said Abuhatab, suffers from four key challenges, and are social underdevelopment and social marginalization; economic underdevelopment and lack of employment opportunities; political and governance underdevelopment and environmental underdevelopment and lack of resource distribution.

At the end of the encounter, the participants assured that there are missing legislative, organizational and institutional frameworks that are able to enhance the implementation of corporate social responsibility among the Palestinian private sector.