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Commercializing Peace?

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In the next case, a former government affairs analyst of Occidental Petroleum comments on the preliminary findings from the implementation of a corporate code of conduct" in Columbia. I couldn't find in the chapter what the findings are and can't imagine they would amount to anything in any case as you will appreciate in a moment. The company reportedly had authorized several years earlier an air raid during an anti-guerilla operation at a village where one of its pipelines is located in Columbia that mistakenly led to the killing of 18 civilians, including nine children who, survivors said, "ran out of their homes to a nearby road with their hands in the air." 13 The chapter's contributor says nothing about the air strike. He does mention native unrest and threats of mass suicides over oil explorations, militarization of the zone, and guerrilla sympathizers. He also notes how that history combined with the company's relocating people and cutting illegal gas and water services near a new company oil well project would "inevitably complicate relations with local communities." What an understatement! I doubt if the company's new corporate code of conduct could have helped the company placate the natives.

In the last case I'll highlight, the VP of international policy and government affairs and deputy general counsel for Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMS) writes a very short chapter about his company's $150 million commitment to a program for battling HIV/AIDS in several African countries. While the company has had skirmishes with the law, its program in Africa is certainly a worthy one and I suppose could be considered to represent a very early stage in the peace building process. 14 A quick scanning of the Internet while writing this article shows BMS's continuous record of various criminal activities. It's par for the course among pharmaceutical corporations. 15

Conclusion

I'm no less skeptical and even more cynical about peace through commerce by MNCs after reading this book, especially its case studies. The book risks being an insult to people who know the real story about the UN and MNCs. Were the academic contributors in some instances bamboozled or corporatized? I don't know. Maybe they are just very idealistic. I personally know a thing or two about idealism, and I am often called idealistic.

It's incredibly idealistic and unrealistic to believe that the UN and the commerce of MNCs can put an end to all the warring and misery around the world today. It's not at all inconceivable that corporatizing the world could eventually end life on the planet. The corporate balance sheet, after all, is remarkably insensitive to what matters most in life, life itself.

Notes

1. Williams, O. Peace through Commerce: Responsible Corporate Citizenship and the Ideals of the United Nations Global Compact. 2008. Reviewed in the Book Section of the Personnel Psychology. Summer Issue, 2011, 540-545.

2. United Nations Global Compact Office. UN. Corporate citizenship in the World Economy: United Nations Global Compact. www.unglobalcompact.org , October 2008.

3. Williams, Ibid. pp. 98-99.

4. See, e.g., Brumback, GB. Toward Becoming a Great Corporation: Part One. The CEO Refresher Online, November 2009; Bruno, K & Karliner, J. Tangled up in Blue: Corporate Partnerships at the United Nations. Corporatewatch.org, September 1, 2000; and Knight, G & Smith, J. The Global Compact and its Critics: Activism, Power Relations, and Corporate Social Responsibility. In Leatherman, J. (Ed.). Discipline and Punishment in Global Politics: Illusions of Control. 2008, pp. 191-214.

5. Brumback, GB. The Devil's Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch, 2007, pp. 144-145; Brumback, GB. Corporate Charades. Part 2. Social Responsibility Programs. OpEdNews, August 28; Dissident Voice, August 28; Uncommon Thought Journal, August 28; Cyrano's Journal, August 31, 2013; Mitchell, N. The Generous Corporation: A Political Analysis of Economic Power. 1989; and Pine, J & Gilmore, J. The End of Corporate Social Responsibility. Harvard Business Online, December 26, 2007.

6. APS. Angola - Chevron Operations. APS Review Downstream Trends Newsletter Online, March 9, 2009.

7. Monitor Staff. Angola. Business Monitor Online, September 16, 2009.

8. Baker, DR. Critics' Annual Report Blasts Chevron. San Francisco Chronicle Online., May 20, 2010.

9. Buffa, A. Activists Respond to Ford Motor Company's Sustainability Report. Global Exchange Online, October 19, 2005.

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Gary Brumback Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Retired organizational psychologist.

Author of The Devil's Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch; America's Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying; and Corporate Reckoning Ahead.

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