'Guns for Hire': Morality, Law & Ethics.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
Since the dawn of civilisation, the provision of military services for profit has been a dominant factor in shaping the world as recognised today. Although shunned by the international community at large and vilified as ‘dogs of war’, the end of the Cold War and the prevalence of Capitalism has presented an opportunity for ‘mercenaries’ to seek legitimacy through the corporatisation of their activities; with both the onset of globalisation and increasingly restricted military budgets resulting in a renewed demand for their services.
As a consequence, the activities of those that were once forced to work in the legal periphery now find themselves at the heart of a multi-billion dollar industry that shows no sign of abating; with companies stating that they provide their services within both a legal and socially ethical manner, arguing that their new found corporate stature legitimises their existence in the eyes of the law.
This paper assesses such claims, through establishing the corporate structure of the company Executive Outcomes from its inception through to its demise and examining how they operated internationally, whilst paying particular attention to the social, ethical and moral implications facing their activities in both Angola and Sierra Leone.
The analysis is rooted within the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) perspective; utilising both Institutional and Resource Dependent theoretical concepts in addition to Christine Oliver’s observations in Strategic Responses to Institutional Processes and Kenneth Jowett’s Frontiers, Barricades and Boundaries.
Through exploring the ways in which the company conducted their business operations and evaluating the strategies they employed as compared to the wider industry today, it has been possible to gain an insight into which activities such firms actively pursue, and the manner in which they do so. As a consequence, it becomes clear that through corporatizing their activities within a wider business framework, companies have been able to solidify their position within the global economy, through associations with other industries and their work on behalf of international organisations and state governments.
By establishing such relationships, the corporate entities that exist today have been able to circumvent both national and international regulations alike, enabling them to implement ‘avoidance tactics’ that allow them to carry out their activities under the guise of conformity to institutional norms, potentially reducing the incentives to operate in a socially ethical way.
In addition, such behaviour has been compounded by the fact that large multinationals and state governments have become reliant on their services, as the industry has become increasingly entwined within other global interests across numerous social spheres (frontiers, barricades, boundaries), helping to cement the perception that companies can operate with relative impunity, undermining any serious attempts to implement a legally binding regulatory body to oversee their activities.
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