Thursday, 20 October 2011

Conflicting interests? How businesses operate in areas of conflict

By Vivienne Benson

Our Business and Development Seminar Series this term is ‘Conflicting Interests: How Businesses Operate in Areas of Conflict,’ – it begins on 25 October.

Mike Davis, Campaigner from NGO Global Witness will be addressing ‘Breaking the Links between Commerce and Conflict,’ at the first seminar. Global Witness have conducted international campaigns against natural resource-related corruption and conflict using a number of countries as case studies – including Burma, Indonesia, Liberia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Turkmenistan, and the Ukraine. In particular, Global Witness was part of the coalition that campaigned for the creation of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative.

The issue of the ethics of businesses working in the extractive industry in countries of conflict is obviously a hot one. Huge amounts of natural resources are often located in these parts of the world, and they can often be the fuel for, or the currency in, conflict. Discussing this during the seminar series is Edward O’Keefe from Synergy Global, and Aidan Davy from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

Synergy Global works with companies, governments and NGOs, focusing on the management of social issues surrounding large-scale commercial projects, particularly in the extractive sector.

Also speaking at the series is Kate Meagher from the London School of Economics (LSE), and Hugh Elliott, International Government Relations Manager from Anglo American.

As before, this series will address many questions; however it will undoubtedly raise many more. Businesses working in the developing world continues to be a controversial subject. Are companies exploiting vulnerable areas for their own gain or are they bringing wealth and enterprise to support communities in bringing themselves out of poverty?

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