In 1919, shocked by the tragedy of World War I, a group that came to be known as “The Merchants of Peace” founded what today is known as the International Chamber of Commerce, the world business organization. The goal of the merchants was to achieve peace through trade.
We are used to hearing of summits and meetings between world political leaders, as they meet to discuss issues and hopefully sign agreements. Yet we tend to ignore the fact that each day, all over the world, millions of meetings are held between business people of very different backgrounds. They find mutual ground through their goal of achieving a good outcome for both parties.
Adnan Kassar of Lebanon realized very early that business activity could be a force contributing to stability and peace. And he also realized that without peace and security, both society and business would suffer, unable to achieve their goals.
His career spans a lifetime, beginning in Lebanon and in the end having a global impact. Throughout, he has been motivated by the ethos of the ancient Phoenicians, who replaced domination by force and arms, with partnerships through exchanges of goods throughout the Mediterranean.
During many years of civil war and internal conflict in Lebanon, Adnan Kassar insulated the chambers of commerce in the nation from political infighting. He required that member businesses collaborate in demonstrating how the private sector could contribute to nation building, by fostering unity in the Lebanese economy. His work to unite the chambers bore fruit with the establishment of the Lebanese Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, a federation he chaired until 2005.
His significant leadership and inspirational qualities were noted abroad, and he has headed the General Union of Arab Chambers, which comprises all chambers in 22 Arab countries, grouping hundreds of thousands of leading businesses. His work led to the creation of the Arab free trade zone and paved the way for the Arab Common Market.
Ultimately, Adnan Kassar was elected to lead the International Chamber of Commerce, in recognition of his ability to make people and businesses work together, across boundaries, towards a common and unifying goal.
While this review makes him sound like an organizational man, Kassar is also a successful businessman, co- founder and leader of Adnan & Adel Kassar Enterprises, as well as the Chairman of Fransabank. He has also served as Minister of Economy and Trade in Lebanon, as well as Minister of State.
For his ceaseless dedication to creating shared value between business and society, and for his inspirational and exemplary businessworthy leadership of national, regional and global impact, Adnan Kassar is named a Business for Peace Honouree.