Developing, managing, and sharing knowledge on natural resources, conflict, and peacebuilding
Library / Briefs & Development
Source: University of Stellenbosch, 2007
Author(s): François Henri Caas
Countries: Afghanistan, Sudan
Topics: Economic Recovery , Governance, Land, Peace Agreements, Renewable Resources
Both Afghanistan and Sudan have experienced extended periods of war and violent conflict. Sudan has been engulfed in a nearly continuous and bitter civil war since independence in 1956. Afghanistan has been in a state of conflict since the Soviet invasion in 1979. Both nations are also among the poorest and least developed in the world. The article on Sudan addresses the interlinkages that exist between conflict and natural resources and how access to and unequal distribution of natural resources have triggered and fuelled violent conflict. In the case of Afghanistan, the article looks at the reasons for US military intervention in 2001 and analyses the reconstruction and development programmes devised by the international community in order to rebuild the country. Based on these, the article looks at the potential for creating a sustainable society in Afghanistan and putting in place an effective system of environmental governance. Although it is recognised that both countries have managed to address some of the causes of conflict, the articles also state that in both cases, the agreements that were signed between the warring parties are far from being comprehensive. This is illustrated by the fact that in Afghanistan, conflict with the Taliban has increased dramatically in recent months, and in Sudan, by the still ongoing conflict in Darfur. It is argued that in both countries the potential for promoting long-term sustainable development is limited not unrelated, in large measure, to the nature of the development agendas being imposed by external decision-makers. Financial institutions and other international development actors have played an instrumental role in devising these agendas. They are promoting development strategies mostly based on neo-liberal policies and reliant on market forces, despite the fact that these policies have, in the past, often failed to trigger economic growth and alleviate poverty. Finally, while issues relating to the management of natural resources, particularly those of global and strategic importance, receive a fair amount of attention in the development plans, environmental protection as such, is often lacking political and financial commitment.