Business and conflict

panos picturesThe corporation is analysed as a political actor within the highly politicised contexts of crisis, conflict and state failure.

Modus Operandi examines the question of corporate responsibility when faced with cases of states that are failing to protect their citizens' rights.

Privatization, mining and displacement - challenged by a Zambian NGO
Interview by Claske Dijkema with Teresa Chewe of SACCORD (Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Dispute) in Paris in November 2007.

This video covers SACCORD’s work with renegotiating mining contracts between the Zambian government and mining corporations so that compensation and community needs are taken into account.
Another video can be found here that looks at the corruption within the renegotiation of the contracts.

Doing Business in Apartheid South Africa: a violation of human rights?

Rod Harbinson - Panos Pictures

The question of corporate responsibility in South Africa under Apartheid has been the object of debate nationally in institutions like the Truth And Reconciliation but also internationally as a law suit currently filed against 5 corporations, Daimler ag; Ford motors; General Motors; IBM and RHEINMETALL, under the Alien Tort Claims Act. This case feeds into the wider debate about corporate social responsibility in the case of non-democratic regimes and business responsibility to uphold human rights.

Sources for the findings in this case study are the business hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that took place in South Africa in 1997, legal documents from the Khulumani support group that initiated the legal case and interviews with plaintiffs, a corporate lawyer defending one of the accused corporations and the director of the Khulumani Support Group, Marjorie Jobson.

The central questions of the case study are threefold: Firstly, in what way might corporate activity have immoral consequences, here defined as gross violations of human rights? Secondly, what are tools for citizens to address their concerns and demand accountability from corporations? Thirdly, why doesn't the government provide a sufficient framework to mediate between citizen's and corporate interests?

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Social responsibility made obligatory in Mauritius

In May 2009, the government of Mauritian made the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of enterprises obligatory. Each firm operating on the Mauritian territory, if foreign or local ones, has to dedicate 2% of its annual benefits towards community development. In the near future, private companies will invest a considerable amount of money into social and environmental projects. Non governmental organisations may be the stakeholders of those projects. The analysis of the positions of the three implicated actors (state, private sector and civil society) shows the difficulties to settle up a system of governance of this obligatory CSR.

The visions of development, the positions and ambitions of these actors diverge. This study tries to tackle the risks and potentials of this CSR expanded on national level, according to the attitudes and the status of these different actors.

To go to case-study, click here (in French)

Avatar in the Philippines:  Territorial conflict, The Clark Development Zone and interaction with indigenous communities.

In the Sacobia Valley tourist and industrial development plans coexist with the Aeta tribe, one of the indigenous communities in the Philippines. This case study demonstrates the potential impact of the arrivalancestral domain Sacobia Valley of domestic and international corporations on members of cultural communities; their ancestral land; their livelihood and way of living. In 1993 the Philippine state created the Clark Special Economic Zone to host industrial, technological and  tourist facilities in the Sacobia Valley. Development is widely understood and perceived as bringing about positive change. But what if development destroys the economic base of the local population? What if economic development creates division instead of enhancing unity? What responsibility for corporations?

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Oil Revenues in Kazakhstan : Is transparency a solution for government accountability , corporate responsibility and social development ?

It is now commonplace to establish a direct link between the availability of natural resources and a bad development record. The economic theory of the resource curse thoroughly analyses how extractive industries prevent other economic sectors from flourishing and how their revenues deter the government from institutionalising a tax system. If the government doesn’t need to redistribute these revenues in order to maintain its legitimacy to rule the country – as this is the case in autocratic regimes – corruption is high and the population suffers from poverty. Natural resources under these circumstances don’t generate any opportunities for the population.

Kazakhstan can illustrate this case. While rich in minerals and hydrocarbon, its indicators for human development are low; democracy was nipped in the bud and corporations’ policy to sprinkle funding as an instrument of local development does not answer the needs of the population. As Kazakhstan integrated the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), under the pressure of a coalition of 70 Kazakh NGOs, it provides us with an chance to study the opportunities and limits of the concept of transparency and of EITI as an instrument of regulation.

To go to case-study, click here (in French)

Oil conflict in the Niger Delta, a case-study using the multi-actor approach

A combination of frustration over the extraction of oil and lack of development in the oil-producing region on the hand and the lack of political space to express grievances and demand for accountability has led to increasing levels of violence in the Niger Delta.

 Panos PicturesThe conflict has changed over time and people whose frustrations are not being addressed seek other ways of expressing themselves that cannot be ignored. The tragedy of the conflict in the Niger delta is that violence seems to be the only language that actors pick up from each other, without having the capacity to decipher the message behind the violence. This is what this case-study tries to do. It will focus on how the conflict between Shell and the oil producing communities is embedded in wider state-society relations.

To go to case study, click here