(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

How to end natural resource-fuelled conflict?

A woman pans for gold with a kitchen calabash in a riverbed, Sierra Leone, 9 January 2006. This woman and others like her form the backbone of Sierra Leone's small-scale alluvial gold-mining industry, where 90  percent  of the prospecting is done by women
Victoria Averill/IRIN

The international community should draw up a comprehensive strategy to tackle conflicts fuelled by natural resources especially in fragile African states, UK campaign group Global Witness says.

"Taking the gun out of natural resource management is a prerequisite for taking the gun out of politics," the advocacy group said in a report entitled Lessons Unlearned: How the UN and member states must do more to end natural resource-fuelled conflict.

"Too often the political, ethnic or geographic aspects of war are considered to the exclusion of its economic drivers... In countries like the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo], natural resources must be recognised not only as part of the problem but also as an essential part of the solution," said Mike Davis of Global Witness.

Among other recommendations, the report calls for UN peacekeepers to be mandated to deal with the economic dimensions of conflict. "The problem with natural resources is not so much the nature of resources themselves, their abundance or their scarcity, but how they are governed, who is able to access them and for what purposes," it says.


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