Security Council – Conflict prevention and natural resources
Date/Location: June 19, 2013, Wednesday; Security Council
Key Speakers: Representative from the 15 members of Security Council; Kofi Annan
Attended by: Janice Hiu Wing Wong, Mary Lam, Sunny Hor, Candace Tang, Marli Kasdan, Alyssa Strasser
Written by Janice Hiu Wing Wong
The linkage between natural resources and peace has been under discussion in the Security Council after it is first being mentioned in 2007. Since 1990, there has been around 80 armed conflicts happened that is related to natural resources. These conflicts happened worldwide in areas such as in Liberia, Angola, DRC, Sudan and South Sudan.
Diamond in South Africa, coal in the Great Lake region, charcoal in Somalia, oil in the Sudans are some examples of natural resources that cause conflicts. Although the major cause of conflicts is due to the weakness of national institution in controlling political parties or religion groups, natural resources accelerate the process and exacerbate the situation. Argentina stated that a causal relationship should not be established between natural resources and peace, yet in general, all countries agreed that natural resources should be carefully managed.
Ownership and/or the exploitation of natural resources can be either a blessing or a curse to a country. Natural resources, an important element for sustainable development, have the potential to transform an economy by creating jobs and generating substantial revenue. However, weak management, illegal exploitation and corruption cause problems.
The revenue generated from natural resources is sometimes used in the purchase of weapons to support military actions. The probability of relapsing during the post-conflict period is two times higher when natural resources are involved. Other problems such as corruption, unethical accounting practice, tax evasion and formation of shell companies, should also be addressed.
There are several general suggestions and comments made by members of the council:
1. Improve the transparency of natural resource management (for transactions, revenue, contracting). This will allow the governments to track the flow of funds and allow citizens to monitor the government.
2. Reinvest income generated from natural resources to sustainable and inclusive human development. Yet some members such as China and Russia articulated that the use of revenue should be a national choice and intervention of internal affairs should be avoided.
3. Regulate trade processes. Example of existing multilateral mechanism includes the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
4. Private sectors and businesses should share the responsibility of preventing conflicts.
5. Members generally agree that the UN system, in particular the Security Council, should intensify the collaborative effort on peace building. However, some countries are concerned with the use sanction due to its side effects.
Edited By:Wayne Dean Doyle