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Modus Operandi


Grenoble, Décembre 2009

Business and conflict, business and peace.

This dossier invites to think about corporate responsibility in the particular context of failed states and / or illegitimate ones (fragile states, dictatorships). In those situations where the state does not fulfil its role of protecting populations and regulating relations in society, don’t companies have an increased responsibility? Its activities, decisions and the effects of its actions have important political impacts. We discuss 3 types of situations:

  • 1. Where the business activity feeds a conflict;

  • 2. The case of authoritarian regimes where, as a result of oppression, civil society cannot express its opposition and organize protests in the face of socio-political conflicts;

  • 3. The role of peacemaker, in cases where companies helped put an end to conflict by for example bringing parties together.

It is the relations between different actors that this dossier is planning to study, mainly between 3 players: the public sector (state), private (business), civil society. In this setting, the company is regarded as a player in the conflict in its own right that can fuel, prevent or help to resolve it.

A company’s responsibility is studied throughout the production or distribution chain of a company’s activity: access to raw materials, working conditions, distribution and consumption. Therefore the following topics are covered: power relations between actors, competition for natural resources, privatization or regionalization of security, management of the common good, working conditions, legal national frameworks and multinational as a new player in international relations.

These themes are developed through several case studies:

  • Shell and instability in the Niger Delta ;

  • Cotton oppressor in Central Asia ;

  • The gold mines in Mali ;

  • Coca-Cola India and the sharing of water ;

  • The « conflict diamonds » and the response of the diamond sector.