Developing, managing, and sharing knowledge on natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding
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Source: UN Department of Political Affairs and UNEP, 2015
Topics: Conflict Causes, Cooperation, Dispute Resolution/Mediation
Over the last 60 years, at least 40 % of all civil wars have had a link to natural resources. Since 1990, more than 18 conflicts have been fuelled or financed by the exploitation of natural resources. The importance of addressing natural resources in resolving and mediating conflicts is further underscored by the fact that conflicts associated with natural resources are more likely to relapse during the first five years of the peace agreement.
Most natural resource disputes are technically complex and politically sensitive. As a result, technical agencies shy away, considering them to be too politically difficult to resolve, while the political organizations steer clear due to the technical complexities involved. As a result, resource disputes often fall through the cracks of the international system, with inadequate attention given to their possible prevention, mediation and resolution. National governments face similar challenges, in that the resolution of resource conflict often cuts across the mandates of multiple Ministries and levels of government.
In response to this challenge, the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) joined forces in consolidating decades of hands-on experience in mediating conflicts over extractive resources, land and water at local, national and international levels. A total of 40 senior mediation experts were involved in the process. The final report “Natural Resources and Conflict: A Guide for Mediation Practitioners” was launched by the UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson in February 2015 at a high-level event in New York. This is being followed‐up by a global roll out process consisting of a series of high-level panel discussions and debates in Geneva, Montreal, Nairobi, Boston and other cities as requested.
This document is a summary of the Geneva Peace Week event, “High-Level Panel Discussion on Natural Resources and Conflict: A Mediated Solution?” that took place on November 17, 2015.