Private sector activity – including both licit and illicit trade and business – is a significant factor influencing the shape and intensity of many conflicts. With a few significant exceptions, however, there has to date been little effort (from public, private and civil society sectors alike) to engage different types of private sector actor systematically in conflict prevention. The basic thesis of the report ‘Transnational Corporations in Conflict Prone Zones: Public Policy Responses and a Framework for Action’ is that conflictsensitive business, and its promotion by public policymaking institutions, could become an important part of a collective and multiactored effort to create a more peaceful world. Public policy attention to harnessing this potential is urgently required.
The report focuses on one group of private sector actors that plays a major role in many conflicts – Northern-based transnational corporations (TNCs) that are foreign to the conflict context. The focus on this group is not intended to suggest that such corporations have a more significant impact on conflict than other types of actor, but is chosen because there appear to be clear opportunities to influence its behaviour. This includes through exploring options for public policy actors in the North to help catalyse a new approach.
- Author(s):Jessie Banfield
- Date:September 2003