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The local militia has an important role in Mogadishu's business community
The local militia has an important role in Mogadishu's business community

Press Release - 23 March 2006

Research project to identify the role played by big businesses in the African peace process

The role that big businesses, such as Coca Cola, could play in bringing peace to war-torn regions is being investigated through a new research project based at the University of Bath.

The £100,000 project, led by Dr Stig Jarle Hansen, will use Mogadishu in Somalia as a case study.

He said: “Currently, approximately 1,000 militiamen come under the command of the business community in Mogadishu, meaning that some of the local banks have more soldiers than some of the warlords.

“Members of the business community is thus able to act as a military fraction during conflict which then needs to be disarmed if peace is to be restored.”

In states where the business community not only wields economic power but also commands militiamen, big businesses play a fundamental role in the transition from war to peace. This role is often considered to be negative, for example, financing warlords.

“The military strength in the business community makes it essential to work together to achieve disarmament and peace,” said Dr Jarle Hansen. “Not only because of the resources it could offer a new Somalia government but also on the reintegration of militias.

“One such local power in Mogadishu is Coca Cola, which has a local franchise and a small army of 130 fighters. Because of its need for positive publicity in the West, Coca Cola might be keen to influence its franchise to get involved in effective peace-keeping activities.”

The new project will take a broad view of the role of the business community, exploring if and when the business community will develop an interest in creating peaceful conditions.

The £100,000 research funding has come from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Peace and Reconciliation Unit. The project, hosted by the University of Bath, will bring together some of the most experienced Somalia experts in Scandinavia. The local partner will be the University of Mogadishu, and the United Nations Development Programme will act as a consulting partner.


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