Lessons from SOMO’s Multinational Corporations in Conflict-Affected Areas programme

Local communities in fragile and conflict-affected areas are exposed to many challenges, including armed violence, displacement, insecurity and livelihood and ecosystem destruction. An increasing number of businesses operate in fragile and conflict-affected areas, where the risks of human rights abuses are particularly great. Multinational corporations (MNCs) have been involved in human rights violations in these areas, often creating further conflict. However, there are still many gaps in understanding the relationship between private sector actors and conflict.

As part of the Multinational Corporations in Conflict-Affected Areas (MCAA) programme, between 2013 and 2016 SOMO, together with its local partners, undertook research on extractives and agro-industries in five countries, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. These case studies provide many illustrations of business-related human rights abuses in a context of conflict and fragility, and provide valuable lessons on how companies operate in conflict-affected areas.

Based on these lessons, a number of recommendations are provided. Among others, it is recommended to MNCs to develop or improve company policies and strategies on how to deal with conflict settings, in line with international standards and guidelines, to prevent them from contributing to new or existing conflict.

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