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Does Business Have a Role in Peacemaking?
March 2007

Until recently, oil companies saw the socioeconomic consequences of their operations in developing countries as beyond their control. But with mounting activist pressure at home, growing interest in “corporate social responsibility,” and the spiraling costs of conflict in production areas, the oil industry is now playing an increasing role in how a country’s oil and gas are extracted, how its people fare, and ultimately, where the revenues go. Jill Shankleman’s timely and highly informative book Oil, Profits, and Peace presents an evenhanded and insightful picture of the obstacles, fiscal incentives, and growing potential for Western oil companies to ameliorate or even prevent conflict in the areas where they operate.

Drawing on years of field experience and new data from corporations, NGOs, and hundreds of personal interviews, the author explores the links between oil and conflict, and changing notions and forms of corporate responsibility. Oil, Profits, and Peace spotlights three oil-dependent countries—Angola, Azerbaijan, and Sudan—that have had very different experiences with conflict and the oil industry, and concludes with recommendations for government and corporate policymakers. As a matter of enlightened self-interest, more and more companies are collaborating in novel ways with governments, international organizations, and NGOs to limit environmental damage, provide local jobs, increase transparency, and enhance the chances of sustaining both profits and peace.

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