Peer Schouten and Jason Miklian: The business–peace nexus: ‘business for peace’ and the reconfiguration of the public/private divide in global governance
In Journal of International Relations and Development, 2018.
Peer Schouten and Jason Miklian
This article explores the implications of ‘business for peace’ (B4P), a new global governance paradigm that aims to put international businesses at the frontline of peace, stability and development efforts in fragile and conflict-affected states. This article argues that B4P entails a shift in the balance between public and private authority across what we coin the ‘business–peace nexus’ and which comprises corporate peacebuilding activities across different spatial scales and institutional settings. We explore B4P’s agency across two distinct nodes in this nexus—in global peacebuilding and development architectures, and in local peacebuilding settings in the Democratic Republic of Congo—to articulate the B4P paradigm’s multiple and contradictory effects on the balance between public and private authority in contemporary peacebuilding. On the one hand, B4P tips institutional scales towards the public by embedding corporations within public accountability structures. On the other hand, by legitimising businesses as peace actors, the B4P framework risks institutionalising asymmetrical encounters between firms and people affected by their operations. We deploy the term ‘asymmetrical governance’ to explain how the amalgamation of global and national, public and private into the operational presence of corporations skews the balance of power in their encounters with local populations.