Profiting from conflict

Militarised conflict is one of the chief causes of poverty.  When fuelled by greed for resources, it is civilians and local communities who suffer, and big business that profits.

Many companies thrive off conflict, whether supplying military hardware to armed forces or running mercenary armies on behalf of combatant states.

Others fuel conflict through their operations in war zones, such as oil companies in volatile countries like Colombia and Iraq, or through their continued trade in goods such as blood diamonds. Others profit from financing the war effort.

Land, resources and conflict

The global plunder of natural resources is intensifying and devastating communities across the world. Corporations are increasingly taking over water, oil, gas, mineral and metal deposits, and buying up land across the planet.

Their operations have forced people from their land, polluted the environment, and led to widespread human rights violations.

Extractives industries spread militarism wherever they go, contracting state forces, private mercenary companies or even illegal paramilitary groups to protect their interests and repress local opposition.

Governments have been encouraged by capitalist institutions, such as the World Bank and the IMF, to compete with each other to attract companies by offering massive tax breaks and guaranteeing huge profits. This competition is devastating communities.

Private military and security companies

Private military and security companies (PMSCs) burst onto the scene 15 years ago, following the declaration of a ‘war on terror’ and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, leading PMSCs are sprawling corporate entities, with complex structures and a global footprint. They come complete with PR departments and marketing teams. This vast private industry is dominated by UK companies reaping enormous profits from exploiting war, instability and conflict around the world. 

Despite a track record of profiting from war and conflict, and numerous accusations of human rights abuses, PMSCs remain unaccountable and unregulated

At the heart of the industry is a revolving door between senior defence and security officials and the corporate world, no wonder the UK government claims the likes of G4S, Aegis Defence Services, Control Risks and Olive Group are best left to police themselves.

For too long, this murky world of guns for hire has been allowed to grow unchecked, the time has come to ban PMSCs from operating in conflict zones and end the privatisation of war.

Colombia: The violence of ‘big oil’

Colombia possesses huge natural wealth and is the second most biodiverse country in the world. However, its natural bounty has proved a curse. Against the backdrop of civil war, big oil companies are devastating rural communities: their operations have forced people from their land, polluted the environment, and led to widespread human rights violations.

According to the Colombia Human Rights Data Analysis Group, since BP and other companies began operating in the oil rich state of Casanare, central Colombia, in the early 1990s, some 12,000 people have been murdered or disappeared. 

Nigeria: Shell's toxic legacy

Nigeria is Africa’s second largest economy and has the highest production of oil and gas in Africa. It is estimated that 2 million barrels of oil are extracted a day from the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil producing region. Some 80 percent of Nigeria’s oil wealth comes from the Niger Delta, this wealth creating a tiny super-rich elite. Meanwhile, over 100 million Nigerians live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

Mining routinely disrupts and destroys people’s lives and livelihoods – it forces people from their land and devastates the natural environment on which they depend.  Shell is responsible for a toxic legacy in the Niger Delta. Ogoniland is one of the most oil-polluted places on earth. Communities report oil crusts on their land, rotten crops and poisoned fish. People are dying, can’t feed themselves and have no clean water because Shell destroyed their environment by drilling for oil.

For too long, communities have seen their rights violated in favour of multinational companies which exploit their natural resources, while those who oppose the presence of such corporations in their territories suffer harassment, death threats and targeted assassinations. War on Want stands in solidarity with Social Action who defend the rights of communities in the Niger Delta affected by oil extraction, militarisation and land-grabbing, and empower people to stand up for their rights and participate in the decisions which affect their lives.

Philippines: Mega mines and exploitation

Mining in the Philippines has exploded from only 17 operations in 1997 to nearly 50 mega-mines today.  The Mining Act of 1995 allowed for foreign ownership of mining assets and exploration permits in indigenous territories, violating indigenous peoples’ ancestral land rights.  

For too long, communities have seen their rights violated in favour of multinational companies which exploit their natural resources, while those who oppose the presence of such corporations in their territories suffer harassment, death threats and targeted assassinations. war on Want stands in solidarity with the Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment who continue to call for a review of mining legislation and a new policy that puts the interests of people and the environment first. Mining and militarisation go hand in hand. 

Read: Murder in Mindanao

Western Sahara: Africa’s last colony

On 31 October 1975, Moroccan military forces invaded Western Sahara. Ever since, the indigenous Saharawi people have been denied their right to self-determination, while mass migration of Moroccan settlers has turned them into a minority in their own land. Morocco has been allowed to exploit the natural resources of the country with impunity. Western Sahara remains Africa’s last colony.

War on Want continues to campaign for the Saharawis’ right to self-determination and freedom in their own land. Together with other solidarity groups, we will continue to highlight the continuing human rights crisis in Western Sahara.

Cultural Resistance

Culture can speak truth to power, and create and maintain hope where previously it had been extinguished.

We believe that culture has a crucial role to play in the struggle for a better, socially just world

Latest news

Reaction: EU drops probe into McDonald’s €1 billion tax dodge

19 September 2018 - 3:15pm

Responding to the breaking news that the EU Commission has scrapped its tax probe into McDonalds, War on Want’s senior campaigner for economic justice Owen Espley says:

Read more

Middle East Monitor: Protests target HSBC over shares in Israel weapons company

17 September 2018 - 3:45pm

Activists come together to protest outside branches of HSBC bank over shares in an Israeli arms company accused of manufacturing internationally banned weapons.

Protestors directed their anger against the bank’s $4.7 million worth of shares in a number of Israeli arms manufactures, including Elbit system, calling on the bank to sever ties with the firms accused of abetting Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

Read more

Join the conversation

In this special edition of Up Front find out how is resisting far right extremism & corporate power; fig… https://t.co/UR8fT4M8Px 1 hour 11 min ago
BREAKING: commission drops tax probe into €1 billion dodge, even though it agreed with our find… https://t.co/psgKepsEhU 1 hour 47 min ago
We know we need a world transformed and that's why we're helping make this year's bigger and better than e… https://t.co/VNPwyYh5ul 8 hours 33 min ago