chapter  1
18 Pages

Introduction

This book seeks to answer two questions. First, what impacts do multinational companies have in post-conflict environments? Second, how are these impacts managed by the international community and host governments as part of the overall reconstruction effort, and by companies themselves as part of their business practices? This book examines three case studies – of Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Rwanda – to draw conclusions which should inform not just our theoretical understanding of post-conflict environments but also practical decisions about how to manage such situations in future. Why though should these questions be worthy of study? What is the relevance to scholars and policymakers of the impact of corporations in post-conflict situations? To begin with, over the past two decades the international community has shown an increasing willingness to become involved in post-conflict environments around the world: attempting to create stable, durable states in the aftermath of war. As Roland Paris argues, ‘post-conflict peace-building developed into something of a growth industry in the 1990s’.1 Between 1989 and 1999, the UN Security Council authorised 14 major peacebuilding efforts,2 and as at October 2011, the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations was managing 16 ongoing operations.3 These developments have given rise to significant scholarly and practitioner literature which seeks to understand what works in post-conflict environments and how such interventions ought best to be governed and managed if they are to be effective. During the same period however, there has also been an increased awareness that multinational corporations (MNCs) – private-sector organisations with operations in several countries – are becoming much more influential and are increasingly having societal and environmental as well as economic impacts. As Josselin and Wallace argue, ‘any interpretation of international relations and global politics must now take the significance of non-state actors, operating transnationally, into account.’4 Accordingly, a growing literature is emerging which examines the impacts that companies have on politics and international relations, and how these might be governed within the prevailing paradigm of international relations (IR). As Claire Cutler makes clear, ‘there is a growing asymmetry between the theory and practice of international relations: the theory makes an impossibility of private authority and private international regimes, whilst the activities of non-state actors grow increasingly authoritative.’5