The Involvement of Corporate Actors in War and International Law: A Study in the Politics of Representations

Student thesis: Phd


The changing dynamics of war have reestablished the corporation as a chief agent of the war economy. Its agency is exercised directly through privatised markets of military goods and services, or less directly through the network of the global economy. This study builds on the observation that the hazards posed by such involvement are undervalued from the normative perspective of international law. The first part of this study sets out to investigate this primary observation. It establishes the claim that corporate actors’ involvement in public considerations stemming from the war economy is absent from the international legal optic overlooking the context of war. The nature of the claim, being focused on an absence, calls for a study of second-order meanings and signs shaping such an absence. Taking the inquiry further, the second part of this study discusses the interplay of representations, theoretical presumptions and power discourses which uphold this absence. This discussion is guided by questions on the representation of the corporate agent and its involvement through the international legal optic overlooking war. This study goes beyond the examination of law and the political to claim that the interplay of second-order signs has rendered the international legal optic’s perception of the war economy distorted. This distortion asserts blind spots over hazards posed to the subjects affected by the war economy, deepening existing normative disassociation from such subjects.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJean D'Aspremont (Supervisor), Iain Scobbie (Supervisor) & Nicholas Lord (Supervisor)


  • Global corporations
  • Private Power
  • Private Military Companies
  • Arms industry
  • Armed Conflict
  • Barthes
  • Corporate Acountability
  • Semiotics
  • Middle East
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • War Economy
  • Business and Human Rights
  • Representations

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