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Like nongovernmental organizations and private military companies, large multinational corporations (MNCs) can play significant roles in zones of violent conflict. Any comprehensive conflict analysis needs to understand these roles, especially as they relate to counterinsurgency. Using a set of three case studies, the authors explore MNC operations in Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The case studies highlight the activities of the MNCs that were intended to shape their violent environment and protect their infrastructure and personnel. Policymakers may be tempted to leverage corporate activities. However, corporate actions, no matter how well intentioned, can have less-than-benign consequences. Moreover, any potential “subcontracting” to MNCs would raise questions about accountability, legitimacy, and state responsibilities.

The research described in this report was conducted within the Intelligence Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations.

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