Nigeria still grappling with the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war on the spike of durum wheat which is used to make many stable foods like pasta and other food products, and global oil price increase with its attendant increase in pump price and its inflationary effect on all economic indices. Then arose the uncertainty in global geopolitics; the announcement of the likelihood of deployment of advanced weaponry which has perturbed world politics, economics, and governance. Russia's announcement of the deployment of the RS-28 Sarmat, colloquially known as "Satan II," has sent shockwaves through the international community. While discussions primarily focus on its implications for military strategy and global security, it is equally crucial to consider its profound impact on global corporate governance.
The RS-28 Sarmat known is as a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Its capabilities are nothing short of astounding, featuring multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) and the capacity to strike virtually anywhere on the planet. This weapon system's potency underscores the importance of global cooperation and corporate governance in an era where advanced technology can be harnessed for both peace and destruction.
The deployment heightens geopolitical tensions, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty. In such an environment, multinational corporations face increased risks. The relationship between geopolitical tensions and corporate vulnerabilities is deeply intertwined. Geopolitical tensions, stemming from conflicts, rivalries, or disputes between nations, can significantly impact multinational corporations. These tensions can disrupt supply chains, introduce market volatility, lead to regulatory changes, create political instability, and increase cyber threats, all of which pose vulnerabilities for businesses.
Conversely, corporate vulnerabilities, such as economic influence, resource allocation, reputational damage, negotiation capabilities, and compliance with international norms, can also influence the course of geopolitical tensions. This intricate interplay highlights the importance of effective corporate governance in mitigating risks and ensuring sustainability in a world where global politics and corporate interests are inextricably linked.
Although there are claims that Moscow’s RS-28 Sarmat
missile was fully developed by a state-owned company, Makeyev Rocket Design
Bureau, many projects like it require input from the private sector’s expertise
and resources. This blurs the line between government and corporate interests.
Effective corporate governance practices are paramount when navigating these murky
waters, encompassing the intricacies of technology transfer, export controls,
and ethical considerations surrounding dual-use technologies.
Collaboration between governments and corporations should be characterised by transparency and accountability, guided by ethical principles to ensure responsible management. Striking a balance between technological innovation and global security concerns is challenging, necessitating robust export control policies, compliance with international regulations, and the safeguarding of sensitive information. The dual-use nature of many technologies complicates ethical decision-making, highlighting the importance of clear guidelines for technology-sharing agreements.
Responsible corporate behaviour can mitigate the risks, protecting against unauthorised access and safeguarding sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands while upholding ethical principles and transparent practices, enabling stakeholders to navigate the tough terrain of technology transfer and international trade with confidence.
The deployment of this type of weapon carries the looming threat of nuclear conflict or accidents, potentially resulting in devastating environmental consequences. Corporations operating in regions affected by these risks must implement comprehensive environmental risk assessments, management plans, and strategies to address potential liabilities. This includes preparedness for supply chain disruptions, a commitment to environmental sustainability, adherence to evolving regulations, and ethical considerations. Corporate governance must incorporate these facets to ensure environmental responsibility, mitigate reputational risks, and align with the growing global focus on environmental sustainability and ethical business conduct.
The Russia-Ukraine war has significantly impacted global supply chains and corporate governance. Disruptions span across industries, from semiconductors to automobiles to food, prompting a shift toward regional sourcing. Europe faces dependency on Russia for natural gas and crude oil. While, Africa and Europe depend on both Russia and Ukraine for key agricultural commodities, impacting global wheat, sunflower oil, and barley exports. These commodities prices have surged, fueling inflation, while highlighting the need for resilient supply chains and improved visibility into extended networks. Corporate governance faces unprecedented challenges as organisations strive to ensure business continuity amidst these disruptions.
Then what should directors do?
Directors occupy a central role in global governance and
conflict resolution through their leadership and decision-making
responsibilities within organisations. They serve as ethical stewards, setting
and upholding moral standards that lay the foundation for responsible global
citizenship. Their commitment to ethical conduct significantly influences
conflict resolution efforts, fostering a culture of responsible corporate
Directors are charged with ensuring their organisations comply with international laws and norms. This includes respecting human rights, adhering to environmental regulations, and upholding trade agreements. By steadfastly adhering to these standards, directors contribute to global governance initiatives and mitigate the potential for conflicts rooted in ethical transgressions.
Stakeholder engagement is another pivotal aspect of directors' responsibilities. They must nurture positive relationships with shareholders, employees, customers, and local communities even more in times of crisis and economic downturn.
In times of crisis, such as supply chain disruptions, natural disasters, or geopolitical conflicts, directors assume the mantle of crisis management. Effective leadership can substantially contribute to conflict resolution by minimising the impact of crises on stakeholders and ensuring the continuity of essential operations.
Directors are the guardians of risk assessment and mitigation processes; tasked with identifying and evaluating potential risks linked to global operations, whether stemming from geopolitical factors or other external challenges. Through this proactive approach, they empower organisations to anticipate and counteract conflicts.
In regions affected by conflicts, directors often play a crucial role in advocating for peaceful solutions. They may collaborate with governments, international organisations, and local stakeholders to support conflict resolution initiatives, aligning their organisations with broader peacebuilding efforts.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives fall under the directors' purview. These encompass philanthropic activities and sustainability efforts that can foster social and economic development in conflict-affected regions. Such endeavours contribute to long-term stability and conflict resolution.
Directors maintain a strategic focus on the long-term success of their organisations. Their perspective often leads to investments and practices that prioritise sustainability, peace, and responsible global governance as integral components of their business strategy.
The deployment of advanced weaponry such as Moscow’s RS-28 Sarmat underscores the intricacies and challenges that multinational corporations face in navigating a world where global security and corporate interests intersect. Robust corporate governance practices are not just a matter of legal compliance; they are an essential tool for mitigating risks, upholding ethical standards, and promoting responsible global citizenship in an era marked by geopolitical complexities. As businesses adapt to these challenges, they have the opportunity to be agents of positive change and contribute to international efforts to maintain peace and security.
Directors, with multifaceted roles, are keystone in global governance and conflict resolution. Their stewardship of ethical standards, compliance with international norms, engagement with stakeholders, crisis management acumen, risk mitigation expertise, and advocacy for peace constitute the bedrock of responsible corporate governance on the global stage. Their leadership fosters not only the well-being of their organisations but also their meaningful contributions to global peace and stability.
Research and Advocacy Department,
28, Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria