Distribuzione delle risorse economiche e conflitti
battlefield enemies. Global Witness has uncovered substantial evidence
3 The question of whether
resource wars are driven in DRC of the government army and the FDLR collaborating in their
by ‘grievance’ or ‘greed’ has looting of North and South Kivu’s mineral wealth. In the latter stages of
been vigorously debated by Cambodia’s civil war, the illegal log exports that bankrolled the Khmer
academics and analysts. Rouge were facilitated by permits provided by the government in
• Lootable resources are worth seizing only if there is a market for them.
Trading natural resources to make war inevitably increases the number
of stakeholders in a conflict – bringing in a range of international
companies that trade, transport, process and sell, plus end consumers in
the West and, increasingly, the East. Governments of countries that host
these activities may benefit from the continuation of the war.
These two broad categories of resource-related conflicts overlap to a
considerable degree. Popular discontent at the stripping of natural resources
by kleptocratic regimes was part of the backdrop to conflicts in Liberia, Sierra
Leone and DRC. These conflicts then saw the same resources being hijacked
by combatants seeking to fill their war chests.
Why aren’t natural
2 resources more prominent
in peace agreements?
The second statistic highlighted in the recent UNEP report – that only a
quarter of peace agreements for conflicts with links to natural resources
address natural-resource management and governance – suggests a reluctance
on the part of mediators to engage with these questions of economic agendas.
Why might this be?
Some of likely reasons are set out in Céline Yvon’s paper ‘Mediators and
Economics: Should they care?’ :
4 This paper was written for the
African Mediators’ Retreat 2009
and is downloadable on the Oslo • mediators’ understandable focus on political and security-related issues
forum webpage www.osloforum. • a perception that economic issues are in any case best addressed after
org. peace agreements
• the sensitivity of discussing the profit motives of parties directly and
indirectly involved in the conflict.
This last point could reflect the fact that warring parties may find it more
palatable to lay down their guns than to give up the means to buy new ones a
few weeks in future. In addition, resource-related financing may be important
to leaders not only for their pursuit of publicly declared political objectives,
but also for maintaining the loyalty of their supporters. As one participant at
the Retreat put it, this may add up to a sense on the part of mediators that
tackling this issue is ‘above their pay grade’.
Aside from the possible reluctance of mediators to raise a sensitive issue, they
may come to the negotiations with a predisposition – conditioned by their own
professional experience – to focus on political and security issues. Moreover,
given how the international community has approached peacebuilding since the
end of the Cold War, mediators may feel that they are expected to focus on what
are perceived as successful, tangible outcomes, such as timetables for the holding
of national elections. In addition, mediators may face some very practical
constraints in terms of their mandate, not least lack of time and support to probe
the economic agendas of the parties around the table.
What if natural resources
3 are inadequately addressed
in peace agreements?
UNEP’s claim that intrastate conflicts linked to natural resources are twice as
likely to relapse within five years raises the question of what risks there might
be in overlooking resource-related issues when framing peace agreements.
Here we look briefly at three sets of issues.
i) Opportunities for spoilers
Peace deals that do not effectively address the role of lootable natural resources
risk leaving warring parties with the economic means to resume fighting as
soon as they decide peace no longer suits them. Agreements such as the Lusaka
Protocol of 1994, which sought to end the Angolan civil war, and Cambodia’s
1991 Paris Peace Accords failed to dislodge fully the main insurgent groups
from the resource-rich areas they controlled. When these accords broke down,
UNITA was quick to harness diamonds to its war effort once more, and the
Khmer Rouge began tapping the reserves of timber, rubies and sapphires
under its control.
In the cases of both Angola and Cambodia it must be stressed that the political
context offered limited scope for negotiating the groups concerned into
surrendering all the resources under their control. This is a common problem.
The 2007 Ouagadougou Agreement aimed at ending Côte d’Ivoire’s resource-
fuelled war makes no reference to natural resources. Subsequently, there have
been few substantive steps taken to change the way in which natural resources
are controlled and exploited. While the agreement is widely regarded as a
success, it remains too early to say whether it provides the basis for a lasting
peace. One of the few certainties is that, should the Forces Nouvelles rebels go
back to war, they will once again finance themselves via the trade in natural
resources. This group retains control of the country’s diamond mines and, more
importantly, a share of the cocoa trade which, as Global Witness investigations
have demonstrated, has provided it with around US$30 million per year.
ii) Causes of conflict left unresolved
If competition for access to resources or resource revenues contributed
to the outbreak of conflict, the need to address the issue in the context of
building peace is self-evident. Even relatively successful examples of peace
agreements dealing with grievances related to natural resources – such
as Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) – can leave a political
landscape littered with potential flashpoints. It is no coincidence that
the most serious recent clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation
Movement and National Congress Party forces have taken place in the oil-
rich Abyei region, whose boundaries are still contested. The CPA’s silence
on the question of how oil revenues might be shared beyond the South’s
referendum on secession in 2011 will be one of a number of factors
increasing the tension between Khartoum and Juba over the course of the
next two years.
iii) Entrenching elite capture
Warring parties that have turned to resource looting as a means of
financing conflict are disinclined to end this practice when they stop
fighting. They frequently approach the negotiating table determined to
control as many resources as possible. A famous example of a rebel leader
using a peace deal to formalise his seizure of key public assets is that of
RUF leader Foday Sankoh, who emerged from the 1999 Lomé Agreement
as head of a Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources (that
As noted, popular resentment of elite capture of natural resources has been
a precursor to a range of recent intrastate conflicts. Peace agreements that
treat natural resources as spoils to be divided between competing elites may
inadvertently introduce, or reintroduce, a form of money politics based around
the capture of state assets. Such political systems are typically associated with
the collapse of those state institutions most critical to peacebuilding. As such,
they tend to undermine economic and democratic development and may also
sow the seeds of future instability.
In the short term, this approach of ‘rewarding the victors’ can encourage
transitional authorities to rush for personal gain, ahead of the country’s
population exercising its right to choose a government at the polls. Such was
the case in Liberia, after the 2003 Accra Peace Agreement created a National
Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), in which the Movement
for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) rebel group was awarded ministerial
5 For an analysis of the Mittal
Steel contract, see Global Witness portfolios controlling forest and mineral reserves. The NTGL wasted little
‘Heavy Mittal’ (http://www. time in selling off the country’s key mineral assets (notably via a staggeringly
globalwitness.org/media_library_ inequitable contract for iron-ore exploitation awarded to Mittal Steel),
Following the publication of this which ended only with the inauguration of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
report, the company was forced to 5
in January 2009. The new government was obliged to add to its already
renegotiate its overcrowded agenda the politically risky process of reviewing, renegotiating
and annulling contracts issued by the NTGL.
So, what are mediators to do? There are always likely to be limits to the scope
of peacemakers to address the economic dimensions of conflict, and there is
certainly a risk of advocating approaches that seem overly prescriptive and
unrealistic. These considerations notwithstanding, there remain some basic
preparatory steps that peace brokers can take – and also certain outcomes that
they can aim to achieve or to avoid.
i) Avoiding vested interests when choosing
the mediators themselves
In selecting a mediator and/or a ‘group of friends’, influence may be a
desired quality but may also be accompanied by a stake in the conflict.
Conflicts in which natural resources are being exploited and traded tend
to spawn opaque networks of economic and political interests regionally
and globally. Mediators who are associated with these interests may have
a stake in the continuation of the conflict, or at least in maintaining those
aspects of the war economy that bring them profit.
ii) Mapping the warring parties’ economic
agendas and alliances
Just as they identify the political interests and alliances of the key players,
mediators should also map out the parties’ economic agendas and relationships.
In crude terms, they need to know not just how many guns the protagonists
have, but also what capacity they have to replace them as soon as the next
deal is made in timber, diamonds or cassiterite. Mediators are typically under
pressure to move quickly and to prioritise what might seem to be the core
issues of peace and security. In light of the linkages between natural resources
and conflict, however, this kind of mapping and intelligence-gathering exercise
does need to be given much higher priority, and mediators need more support
to do it effectively. 10
iii) Not apportioning natural resources as
spoils of war
Given the connection between aggressively rent-seeking forms of
government on the one hand, and threats to development, democracy
and stability on the other, mediators should do all that their mandate
permits to avoid establishing arrangements for renewed elite capture of
the country’s natural resources.
iv) Creating mechanisms to monitor
economic issues post-agreement
While it may not be possible or wise to address all aspects of post-conflict
resource management in the content of a peace agreement itself, Sudan’s
CPA shows that peace agreements can establish useful institutional
mechanisms to oversee implementation of those provisions dealing with
v) Placing limits on transitional
Mediators should endeavour to set limits not only on the tenure
of transitional governments, but also on their authority to allocate
resource-exploitation rights to themselves or third parties. They should
seek to complement these restrictions with incentives and support to
lay the foundations for a sustainable and equitable system of resource
vi) Putting lootable natural resources out
In some cases, where the connection between resource-looting and
conflict-financing is particularly strong, mediators should endeavour to
take natural resources off the table completely by having resource-rich
areas secured by peacekeepers. This might be framed within the peace
agreement as a measure to help the state restore its sovereignty over its
natural resources. Such an approach has been taken in Liberia recently,
with some success.
vii) Ensuring accountability
While the brokers of peace agreements clearly need to balance considerations
of peace and justice, they should seek to use their influence to ensure that
those responsible for economic crimes, as well as other kinds, are held
accountable. In some cases this could extend to referrals to the ICC for war
crimes such as pillage. Equally, the peacemaking community should encourage
states to hold to account those companies based within their jurisdictions that
have committed or facilitated crimes in the conflict-affected country.
+1 anno fa
Dispensa al corso di Teorie e tecniche della trasformazione dei conflitti della Prof.ssa Maria Luisa Maniscalco. Trattasi del saggio di Mike Davis dal titolo "Why should mediators consider the economic dimensions of conflicts?" all'interno del quale si discute dell'importanza della distribuzione delle risorse economiche e naturali nelle situazioni di conflitto e nel possibile ruolo conciliatorio della re-distribuzione.
I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Teorie e tecniche della trasformazione dei conflitti e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Roma Tre - Uniroma3 o del prof Maniscalco Maria Luisa.
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