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There is mounting evidence that natural resources can influence the likelihood, course and outcome of armed conflicts. Much of these relationships depend on the institutional setting in which the conflict and resource exploitation occurs, and the specific characteristics of resources involved. This paper examines the relevance of two broad resource characteristics-lootability and legality-for conflict termination initiatives. Observing revenue sharing, economic sanction and military interventions in a total of 26 conflicts between 1989 and 2006, the paper suggests that resource characteristics can affect the effectiveness of resource-related conflict termination instruments.
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Le Billon, Philippe
Natural Resource Types and Conflict Termination Initiatives
Colombia Internacional, núm. 70, julio-diciembre, 2009, pp. 9-34
Universidad de los Andes
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Colombia Internacional
ISSN (Versión impresa): 0121-5612
Universidad de los Andes
Proyecto académico sin fines de lucro, desarrollado bajo la iniciativa de acceso abierto
Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
Natural Resource Types and
Conict Termination Initiatives
Philippe Le Billon
University of British Columbia
There is mounting evidence that natural resources can inuence the likelihood, course and
outcome of armed conicts. Much of these relationships depend on the institutional setting in
which the conict and resource exploitation occurs, and the specic characteristics of resources
involved. This paper examines the relevance of two broad resource characteristics—lootability
and legality—for conict termination initiatives. Observing revenue sharing, economic sanction
and military interventions in a total of 26 conicts between 1989 and 2006, the paper suggests
that resource characteristics can affect the effectiveness of resource-related conict termination
war • natural resources • sanctions • revenue sharing • military interventions
Tipos de recursos naturales e iniciativas para la nalización de conictos
Existe creciente evidencia de que los recursos naturales pueden inuenciar las probabilidades,
la trayectoria y el resultado de los conictos armados. Muchas de estas relaciones dependen del
marco institucional en el cual el conicto y la explotación de recursos ocurren, y de las caracterís-
ticas especícas de los recursos implicados. Este documento examina la relevancia de dos grandes
características de un recurso —saqueabilidad (lootability) y legalidad (legality)— para las iniciati-
vas de nalización de conictos. Observando la repartición de ingresos, las sanciones económicas
y las intervenciones militares en 26 conictos entre el año 1989 y el año 2006, este documento
sugiere que las características de un recurso pueden afectar la efectividad de los instrumentos de
nalización de un conicto relacionado con los recursos naturales.
Palabras clave
guerra • recursos naturales • sanciones • repartición de ingresos • intervenciones militares
Recibido el 5 de mayo de 2009 y aceptado el 13 de octubre de 2009.
Philippe Le Billon es profesor asociado de Geografía en
el Instituto Liu de Asuntos Globales de la Universidad de
Columbia Británica, Vancouver, Canadá.
Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
Natural Resource Types and
Conict Termination Initiatives
Philippe Le Billon
University of British Columbia
Much attention has been devoted to the relationships between natural resource
wealth and armed conicts since the mid-s (Bannon and Collier ; Bal-
lentine and Nitzschke ; Nitzschke and Studdard ). e United Nations
Security Council () has taken an unprecedented number of measures to curtail
access to revenues by targeted groups and help foster a durable transition to peace
(Cortright and López ). Natural resources do not have the monopoly of war
nancing, but this priority reected an upward trend of resource-funded hostili-
ties since the s until the mid-s, and a consensus that insurgent access to
resource revenues tends to prolong conicts (Ross ). is paper reviews the
potential importance of the type of resources involved in hostilities for conict
termination. If specic instruments are more eective for some resources than
others, matching them may improve the chance of ending a conict. e success
or failure of resource-focused instruments may also inform arguments about the
role of dierent types of resources in the prolongation of conicts.
e paper rst provides a brief overview of large- and medium- studies on
natural resources and conict duration, making no general claims about small-
studies. It then discusses potential linkages between resource types and conict
termination, before reviewing the record of the three main types of resource-
focused instruments used for  conicts between  and . Following a
discussion of their relative eectiveness, the paper concludes with a discussion
of ndings, policy implications and avenues for future studies.
Studies linking natural resources and armed conicts until the late s have
generally sought to examine resource scarcity or environmental degradation
eects, mostly through using comparative case studies (Dalby ). Using re-
source dependence as proxy, Collier and Hoeer (; ) initially argued that
greed was a widespread motivation amongst belligerents, before suggesting that
resources constituted a favorable opportunity, setting the context for violence to
escalate into armed rebellion. ese arguments received widespread attention,
including in the public media and international policy circles. e ndings and
their interpretation, however, have been challenged—notably in terms of the
interpretation of relationship (e.g. resource dependence being also a possible
proxy for grievances), of the characteristic of the variable (e.g. being too broad,
not accounting for some resources such as diamonds, or reecting dependence and
its institutional causes rather than resource wealth), and of the unit of analyses
(e.g. not disaggregating the location of resources and conict), see (Buhaug and
Gates ; de Soysa, ). Several studies have re-examined this relationship
by checking for robustness (Fearon ), using alternative resource variables
(Humphreys ; Ross ), disaggregating types of resources (Lujala et al.
; Rustad et al. ) and conict levels (Buhaug and Rød ).
e picture emerging from these recent studies is that the relationship is
generally less robust than was initially found, except in the case of oil. Both oil
dependence (oil exports as a percentage of ) and oil abundance (rent per
capita) are positively correlated with the risk of war (Fearon ; Ross ).
Humphreys () nds this relationship aected by the level of oil dependence
and abundance (medium dependence and abundance present higher risk), the
phase of the oil cycle (production is riskier than discovery), and the strength of
institutions (oil increasing risk for weak states but reducing it for strong states).
Basedau and Lacher () nd that the increased risk of high oil dependence
is counterbalanced by high abundance. e location of oil and type of conict
also matter, with overlapping conict and oil areas being associated with longer
governmental conicts (over central government), but not with territorial (i.e.
secessionist) ones (Lujala et al. ). e presence of oil in conict areas would
also increase the number of deaths resulting directly from hostilities, whereas the
presence of oil within the country but outside the conict area tends to decrease
it (Lujala ). Besides oil, Lujala et al. () nd that secondary diamonds
(surface or alluvial diamonds) have some eect on ethnic conicts. Snyder
() stresses in this regard that the type of resource exploitation institutions
plays a major role for building political order challenged by the particularities
of lootable resources—with joint private/public exploitation oering the best
outcomes. Le Billon () suggests that high diamonds abundance and industrial
exploitation seem to reduce armed conict occurrence. No statistically signi-
cant relationship was found for timber (Rustad et al. ), while Humphreys
() suggests that agricultural commodities are under-examined and would
be positively correlated with a higher risk of conict; Dube and Vargas. ()
qualifying this relationship as they nd that higher coee prices reduce the likeli-
hood of conict in Colombia—with the opportunity cost eect (leaving coee
production employment for rebellion) trumping the rapacity eect (increasing
13Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
prices exacerbating incentives to illegally appropriate coee rents through rebel-
lion). Narcotics tend to strengthen rebel groups in terms of capacity compared
to states, thereby prolonging conicts (Cornell ).
Of most relevance to this study are analyses of conict duration, risk of renewed
conict, and conict termination processes. Several empirical studies have sug-
gested that the availability of valuable resources in a conict area tends to prolong
hostilities and undermine conict termination eorts (Doyle and Sambanis
; Stedman ; Fearon ; Ross ; Lujala et al. ). Humphreys
() nds, in contrast, that oil or diamond productions are associated with
shorter conicts (for a critique, see Collier and Hoeer ), and highlights
the diversity of mechanisms possibly at play:
Feasibility mechanism
, with resources providing a ow of revenues enabling bel-
ligerents to continue ghting;
Balance of power
mechanism, with resources prolonging wars when easily acces-
sible to the weaker party, or shortening them when more exclusively accessible
to the stronger party;
Conict premium
mechanism, with belligerents opportunistically pursing eco-
nomic agendas in a rewarding resource context;
Fragmentation mechanism, with economic interests and distrust over resource
revenue sharing within armed groups fostering a breakdown of discipline, al-
legiance switching, or the crowding out of ideologically driven belligerents by
opportunistic ones (see Weinstein ). Hostilities may be prolonged through
more diuse economically-driven violence and undermining peace negotiations,
but also shortened by militarily weakening fragmented groups if they face a more
capable military force;
mechanism, whereby resource revenues can provide an incentive
to participate in and abide by a peace process. Such redistribution may, however,
provide an incentive for further fragmentation among armed groups and diu-
sion of armed violence;
International stakes
(or international conict premium) mechanism, whereby
resources can inuence the interests and capacity of regional or international
actors. Interest groups in neighbouring states in particular can economically
benet from a conict and seek to prolong it, while major commercial interests
can also seek to end a conict to protect or access resources; and
Resource enclave
(or sparse economic networks) mechanism argues that, since
economic sectors with dense economic linkages across divided communities would
promote conict termination, the enclave nature or sparse economic linkages of
many resource sectors would tend to prolong conicts.
ese mechanisms may have divergent eects on conict duration. Ross ()
nds only weak support for the conict premium mechanism and its negative
eect on the success of negotiated settlement. Humphreys () nds support
for the balance of power, fragmentation (through military weakening) and the
international stakes mechanisms, but no support for the conict premium and
peace-buying mechanisms. Finding a positive statistical association between oil
discovery in conict areas and increased conict duration, Lujala () argues
in support of the conict premium mechanism. Assessing the likely impact of
dierent initiatives on the various mechanisms may assist to conrm this argu-
ment: some initiatives may be more suited to the types of mechanism at play in
a conict, and help realize their potential contribution to conict termination.
Examining the eect of resource dependence on peacebuilding success, Doyle and
Sambanis (, ) nd that these are signicantly and negatively associated,
and suggest that “easily looted resources provide incentives for new wars, which
would reduce the probability of [peace-building] success.” Collier, Hoeer et al.
() do not nd that primary commodity export dependence has signicant
eect on the duration of civil wars; yet they nd that lower commodity prices
reduce conict duration—sanctions able to lower prices through closing ‘open’
markets should thus help shorten conicts. Beyond such contradictory ndings,
several studies examine the sensitivity of conict duration to the characteristics
of the resources, their location with regard to the conict, as well as the type of
conict involved and initiative deployed (see Table ). Using a large- analysis
that spatially disaggregates resources and conict areas, Buhaug et al. ()
nd that the presence of resources within a conict zone increases the duration
of conict—ending hostilities around resource areas should thus be a priority.
Examining the specic case of ‘lootable’ or ‘contraband’ goods, Fearon ()
nds that, compared to a total sample of  civil wars between  and ,
those in which rebels had access and relied heavily on contraband goods such as
narcotics or gems lasted about ve times longer—cutting access to such resources
should thus also contribute to hastening peace. Based on thirteen case studies
of civil wars involving natural resources in the s, Ross () nds that ac-
cess to resource wealth by rebel groups lengthened eight of them, but shortened
two conicts as a result of military interventions by regional powers and had a
mixed eect on two others as rebel groups defected to the government, in part to
maintain access to resource revenues in the face of mounting military pressure.
Ross’ ndings seem to conrm that access to resource revenues by the weaker
party prolongs conicts; they oer weak support, however, for the argument that
resources oer a nancial incentive to oppose a peace settlement through current
gains on present or future control of resources. Given these studies, one would
expect that resource-related peacebuilding initiatives—such as wealth sharing,
15Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
military interventions and economic sanctions—would contribute to conict
termination and post-conict stability. As discussed below, these initiatives are
not likely to have the same eect within all conict environments—notably with
respect to resource type.
Many studies have examined relationships between conict termination initia-
tives in general and conict settlement. Licklider () nds for a sample of 
civil wars between  and  that the risk of renewed conict is higher for
negotiated settlement than a military victory, thereby suggesting that interven-
tions should aim at facilitating military victory rather than negotiations. Using
a sample of  civil wars between  and , Collier, Hoeer et al. ()
points out that only military interventions on the rebel side shorten civil war.
Several studies have found that foreign interventions tend to increase the dura-
tion of civil wars (Regan ); although towards negotiated but not military
settlement (Balch-Lindsay et al. ). Regan, Frank et al. () qualify these
ndings by arguing that well-timed diplomacy conducted by some international
actors, alone or combined with other initiatives, can help reduce conict dura-
tion. Besides these general studies, at least four studies have examined conict
Table 1. Major N-studies on resources and conict duration
Authors Coverage Resource measure Finding
Collier et al. 2004 55 civil wars
Pre-conict percent
of primary exports
in GDP.
No signicant effect.
Collier et al. 2004 55 civil wars
Decline in primary
exports prices.
Reduces duration.
Fearon 2004 128 civil wars
Major reliance of rebel
forces on contraband
Prolongs duration.
Ross 2004 13 civil wars
Resource wealth. Mostly prolongs
Regan and Aydin 2005 153 civil wars
Availability of
extractable resources
(diamonds and other
gemstones, opiates).
Opiates production
prolongs duration,
gemstone do not.
Humphreys 2005 Post 1960
Fearon and Laitin
Oil or diamond
Shortens duration.
Binningsbo and Rustad
PRIO-Uppsala Armed
1946–2003 dataset
Involvement of
resources in conict.
Prolongs duration,
especially land and
Buhaug et al. 2009 PRIO-Uppsala Armed
1946–2001 dataset
Availability of
lootable resources in
conict area.
Prolongs duration.
Lujala 2010 PRIO-Uppsala Armed
1946–2003 dataset
Presence of oil and
diamonds in conict
Prolongs duration.
termination initiatives either targeting resources or deployed in a specic re-
source context. Using a selection of  cases, Stedman (, ) nds that no
peace agreement in which international actors were assigned a prominent role
on the ground has been successfully implemented where there are “valuable,
easily marketable commodities such as gems or timber,” and suggests that such
resources “not only provide armies with the means for continued ghting, they
also become the reward against which they weight the benets of peace. In his
study of conict duration and mode of termination, Fearon () notes that
conicts are about four times longer in cases where ethnic minorities took up
arms to protect their access to land, fuel or mineral resources against migrants
or the state. Fearon () suggests that negotiated settlements would be more
problematic in such contexts by increasing the stakes of one party and suspi-
cions about reneging by the other.
Territorial conicts may not be the only ones
prolonged by the availability of resources.
Arguably, if resource revenues are only available to the stronger party, then
resources should not prolong but shorten conicts by providing the stronger party
more economic leverage to achieve a military victory or to ‘buy peace’ (Le Billon
). Humphreys () nds that both oil and diamond export dependence
is associated with shorter wars by making military victory easier, but not by
obstructing negotiated settlements. Oil revenues are generally much more ac-
cessible to governments than to rebels, even if rebel forces can steal oil or extort
protection rents or kidnapping ransoms from oil companies. Diamond revenues
may be as much accessible to rebels than governments, but Le Billon ()
nd that military victory over diamond-funded rebels is also easier, suggesting
that deriving revenues from diamonds could have a deleterious eect on rebel
organizational structure (see also Weinstein ; ; Le Billon ).
Overall, recent studies on resources and conict termination underline the
relevance of commodity-related instruments for ending conicts. ey also
point to the importance of distinguishing between dierent type of resources
and conicts involved, their relative location, as well as the parties accessing
resources and the mechanisms prolonging or shortening the conict. Finally,
they tend to suggest that conicts involving resources are more likely to be suc-
cessfully settled through military victory than negotiated settlements resource,
1 This nding should be qualied, however. Stedman (2001) assesses that two peace agree-
ments were partial successes (Cambodia and Liberia) and that there were as nearly many
peace agreements that were partial successes or failures in the case of available and valu-
able ‘lootable’ resources than in their absence (Cambodia, Lebanon, Liberia, Sierra Leone,
Angola I and II, versus Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, and Somalia).
2 Fearon (2004: 284) notes, however, that ‘the business synergies between rebel groups and
drug trafckers are so strong that any rebel group that can avoid destruction long enough
will eventually move into this area.
17Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
and that policy initiatives should in general seek to deny resource access to the
weaker party rather than accommodate its demands.
e literature on conicts and natural resources identies several resource type
dimensions potentially inuencing their relationship, including those aecting
conict duration and preferred mode of conict termination (Le Billon ; Lujala
; Ross ). e most classic dimension in resource and war studies is that
of ‘scarcity,measuring the imbalance between ‘supply’ and ‘demand,’ and thus
the motivational element in a ‘struggle’ over ‘strategic’ or ‘vital’ resources. is
imbalance is not set only by the supply and demand for the resource itself, but by
the broader economic and livelihood context (e.g. conditions of poverty). Scarcity
is often interpreted through the categories of renewable and non-renewable,
with much of the literature emphasizing more robust links between large-scale
violence and non-renewable resources than for renewable ones (de Soysa ;
Binningsbo et al. ; eisen ). e argument that ‘abundant’ resource
would motivate conicts, although apparently contrary, builds on some of the
same assumptions, but shifts scale from local to global scarcity (hence a locally
abundant but still highly valuable resource), and often adds the dimension of
e most well known dimension in the current literature is the idea of ‘loot-
ability,’ measuring the ease with which a rebel group could access revenue from
this resource. is aspect has been declined through terms such as accessibility
and appropriability, as well as variations on this theme such as obstructability
(i.e. ability to racket through threats of obstruction—see Ross ). All of these
relate to the ‘opportunity’ eect according to which a rebel group operating in a
more ‘opportune’ environment would be more viable. ere are many components
to this lootability: the materiality of the resources, its mode of exploration and
production, its spatial spread and accessibility to its revenues, and (il)legal and
(il)licit character along its value/commodity chain.
of the resource inuences for example its ease of extraction and
transportation, and its price/weight ratio. e easier to extract and transport,
and the more valuable per weight, the more ‘lootable’ the resource.
Mode of exploration, production, and consumption
inuences its accessibility,
notably through labour, technical, and capital input, but also the social rela-
tions and nancial ows that take place around resources along the (global)
commodity chain.
Location, spatial spread and accessibility to its revenues
are dened by the com-
ponents presented above, as well as the geographical spread of resources (either
in the form of placer/reserves or suitable socio-ecosystems in the case of cash
crops for example). Depending on the relative capacity of the belligerents to
capture revenues, point source or diuse resources can provide advantages to
some belligerents over others—with diuse resources generally favoring rebel-
lions over governments.
Livelihood impact
of the resource reects its importance for the survival of in-
dividuals or groups. is can relate to ‘vital’ resources such as water, not only in
terms of access but also of quality (e.g. mining related pollution).
Legal and licit character
is dened, respectively, in judicial and moral terms. What
is illegal by law can be considered licit by the population, such as narcotics at
some production sites, and thereby further advantage an ‘illegal’ actor such as
a rebellion vis à vis a government.
Identity and divisibility characters dened by how much a resource is identied
by a social group as its own and by the divisible character of resource ownership
and benets, both of which relate in large part to its territoriality, mode of pro-
duction, and revenue ows. ese dimensions are less often examined, notably
by quantitative studies due to its ‘qualitative’ character (although not always
impossible to measure). Beyond simple dimensions of ‘property rights,’ this can
extend for example to cultural rights. e particularity of this dimension is the
indivisible character it can give to resources, especially with respect to land. is
notion of identity is, of course, socially constructed and historically contingent.
It can help explain, as discussed above, the longer duration of many secessionist
or ‘sons of soil’ conicts.
Most of the contemporary resource and conict literature has focused on the
nancial opportunities aorded by resources to belligerents in conict situa-
tions: the legality of a resource, and its accessibility or ‘lootability.’e legality
of a resource refers to its legal status in domestic and international markets.
is legal character shapes specic opportunities for belligerents. In the case of
an illegal resource, a rebel group is advantaged compared to a government that
risks losing its international legitimacy and associated sources of support if it
engages in tracking. In the case of a legal resource, a government is advantaged
since the market should oer higher prices to a recognized authority rather than
an illegal one.
e accessibility of a resource is dened by the ease with which an armed group
can generate revenues from it, through exploitation, theft, as well as taxation or
extortion (see Table ). Several factors inuence this accessibility. Some relate to
the production and commercial characteristics of a resource: a resource is more
accessible when its exploitation requires less nancial, technological or labour
3 On the potential importance of the specic characteristics and modes of production of
different types of resources on the likelihood, type, or duration of armed conicts, see (Le
Billon 2001; Ross 2003; Snyder 2006).
19Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
inputs, and when the high price per volume ratio facilitates transportation. Other
factors relate to the geographical context and mode of exploitation of a resource:
a resource is more accessible when it is spread over a vast territory, in a terrain
propitious to insurgency, and along an international border, as well as when it
is exploited by high number of businesses vulnerable to protection rackets and
protected by ineective or corrupt security forces (Le Billon ).
Together, the legality and accessibility criteria may be used to dene four
categories of resources: illegal lootables (e.g. narcotics), legal lootables (e.g. al-
luvial diamonds, on-shore oil), legal non-lootables (e.g. o-shore oil), and illegal
non-lootables. Illegal non-lootables could include uranium, which exploitation is
mostly conducted by tightly controlled industrial mines and which trade comes
under regulation through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the national
legislation of Nuclear Suppliers Group members (akin to the voluntary agreement
of participants to the Kimberley Process Certication Scheme). Uranium from the
Democratic Republic of Congo, however, was identied by a  group of experts
4 The low traceability of resources can also facilitate trading and the collaboration of business
intermediaries with rebel groups. Difculties over the identication of the origin of diamonds,
for example, delayed the effective application of sanctions and required signicant reforms in
rough diamond trading, notably through the Kimberley Certication Process Scheme.
Table 2. Resource categories and risk of accessibility by rebel forces
Risk of accessibility by rebel forces
Price range (USD/Kg)Production Theft Extortion
Illegal lootables
Narcotics High High High 5,000–6,000
Legal lootables
Alluvial gems and minerals High High High 20,000–500,000
Timber Medium Medium High 0.1
Agricultural goods Low Medium Medium 1.5 (coffee)
On-shore oil Low Medium High 0.12
Legal non-lootables
Kimberlite diamonds Low Medium Medium 20,000–500,000
Deep-shaft minerals Low Low Medium 2 (copper)
Water dams Low Low Medium n/a
Off-shore oil Low Low Low 0.12
Note: Approximate prices in producing countries during the 1990s, adapted from industry sources,
pers. com. from Gavin Hayman at Global Witness, and Auty 2004. For a discussion of the case of a
water dam, see Johnson Likoti 2007.
as both ‘lootable’ through artisanal exploitation, and somewhat ‘legal’ given the
total absence of control on the site and the porous borders of the country.
commodity-focused instruments may better address specic resources given
these distinctions; I review each type of instrument in turn.
Conict termination is often presented in three stages that are frequently over-
lapping each other: peacemaking consists of initiatives seeking to settle a conict
through negotiations (and possibly military intervention), peacekeeping consists in
preventing further hostilities through a military interposition between contending
parties, and peacebuilding consists in normalizing relations and reconciling contend-
ing parties. Diagram  matches these three stages with the three main arguments
relating natural resources and armed conicts (see Le Billon ): the resource
curse argument suggesting that resource dependence negatively aects economic
performances and the quality of institutions—thereby supposedly increasing the
vulnerability of countries to armed conicts; the resource conict (resource dispute)
hypothesis positing that the resource itself, its discovery and its exploitation can
increase the likelihood of conicts and various forms of violence, notably through
disputes over rent allocation as well as the social and environmental impacts of
exploitation; and the conict resource (looting or resource nancing) argument for
which resources shape the opportunities and behavior of belligerents by nancing
their activities, dissociating them from a popular base and securing the support
of external actors. e resulting framework can help situate initiatives targeting
potential resource and conict linkages.
ree main types of conict termination instruments targeting resources have
been used: military interventions taking over the control of resource production
areas from belligerents, economic sanctions against targeted belligerents, and
revenue sharing agreements between belligerents.
ese three types of instruments are not the only ones deployed to address
the role of resources in prolonging conicts, as indicated in Diagram . Some of
5 Letter dated 18 July 2006 from the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established
pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo ad-
dressed to the President of the Security Council, S/2006/525, accessed at http://daccess-
6 The resource curse argument remains debated, with Mehlum et al. (2006) nding that the
resource curse result disappears in a cross-section of countries once the quality of institu-
tions is accounted for.
7 Conict resources are dened by Global Witness, a UK-based NGO, as “natural resources
whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conict contribute to, benet from
or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international
humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law,” seenition_of_conict_resources.html.
21Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
these instruments have been used to implement or complement the three main
types of instruments examined in this study, such as the Kimberley Process
Certication Scheme seeking to enable more eective sanctions against ‘conict
diamonds’ (Le Billon ). Some have also been deployed according to conict
prevention or human rights abuse accountability objectives, rather than conict
termination per se. Although rare, litigation against resource companies or in-
dividuals suspected of trading in conict commodities has occurred, in order to
implement and give future credibility to  sanctions. Dutch timber merchant
Guus Van Kouwenhoven, for example, received an eight-year prison sentence
for violating a  arms embargo imposed on the Liberian government.
transparency instruments, most notably the Extractive Industries Transpar-
ency Initiative, have also been deployed to curb the likelihood of corruption and
revenue embezzlement.
Curtailing wartime access to resource revenues can take two main forms:
military interventions to capture resource production areas; or economic sanc-
tions preventing investments, technical inputs or the trading of resources. e
three main categories of military interventions relevant to this discussion are:
those conducted by domestic forces as part of the general conduct of war; those
conducted by external mercenary forces (or private military companies, s)
working under contract from one of the belligerents; and those conducted by
external military forces under a mandate from the , a regional organization,
or in the form of a ‘coalition of the willing’. ese divisions are not always clear,
especially when external governments intervene outside of a  mandate using
foreign mercenaries.
Economic sanctions, or ‘commodity sanctions,’ seek to prohibit the import of
resources under the control of the sanctioned party, an alternative being restrict-
8 The sentence was subsequently overturned by a Dutch court of appeal. ‘Prole: Libe-
ria’s ‘Mister Gus’’, BBC News, 7 June 2006, accessed at
Diagram 1. Peace initiatives and resource and conict linkages
Peacemaking Peacekeeping Peacebuilding
Resource curse
Trusteeship Institutional and
economic reforms
Resource conict /
dispute Resource sharing
deployment in
resource areas
Resource entitlement
and management
Conict resource Demobilization (DDR)
Military interventions Fair trade initiatives
ing investment for, or export of production technology to, the sanctioned party.
Sanctioned parties have included governments (often through a country-wide
sanction regime) or non-state groups (mostly rebel movements). Sanctions
aiming at particular commodities (commodity sanctions) can be applied to a
country but in eect only target the actor most beneting from that commodity.
Commodity sanction regimes have also been applied to a country, but provide
for the exemption of commodities certied by the government, once a credible
system is in place. Sanctions targeting resources have been imposed by the Secu-
rity Council, regional associations of states such as the Economic Community of
West African States (), or individual governments such as the , as well
as business associations and non-governmental organizations (s)—through
market access restrictions through sectoral reforms or consumer boycotts, as in
the case of the Kimberley Process Certication Scheme for ‘conict diamonds,’
or industry guidelines for coltan in relation to the conict in the Democratic
Republic of Congo. Sanctions have been the most studied among the three types
of initiatives examined in this essay and, as reviewed by Cortright and López
(), ndings generally suggest that  sanctions most often fail to change
the behaviour of their targets. Mack and Khan () argue that, nevertheless,
many  sanctions had positive impacts in terms of stigmatizing and contain-
ing targets, notably in terms of funding opportunities. Furthermore, the use of
sanctions has much evolved since the end of the Cold War, with a greater use of
 sanctions that are better targeted and implemented (Cortright and López
; Le Billon ).
Although sanctions have been imposed to alter the behaviour of their targets,
they have increasingly been used with the objective of curtailing the nancial
means available to rebel groups. e growing use of so-called ‘smart sanctions’
has allowed for selective targeting to maximize the impact on the selected
group, while lowering it on the general population. Measures such as the public
‘naming and shaming’ of sanction busters by  expert panels and the threat
or implementation of ‘secondary sanctions’ on sanction busting states have
strengthened their implementation. e National Union for the Total Indepen-
dence of Angola (), for example, lost logistical and diplomatic support in
 and , following exposure by  expert panel reports. e imposition of
sanctions against the government of Liberia progressively eroded its support for
the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone. Resource smuggling, however,
remained widespread under most sanction regimes, in part because of a lack of
enforcement on the ground and eective judicial action against sanction bust-
ers. e characteristics of resources have also played a role, in terms of ease of
transport, concealment, or low traceability. Yet the smuggling in the s of
vast quantities of petroleum from Iraq or logs from Cambodia illustrate that,
23Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
with the collusion of local authorities on both sides of an international border,
the bulkiness of a resource is less of a major factor.
Positive incentives can address the linkages between resources and wars. Rather
than seeking to curtail revenue access to belligerents, revenue can be made ac-
cessible to ‘former’ belligerents. Sharing resource revenues, in other words, can
‘buy peace.’ is type of positive incentive encompasses a broad range of options.
Resources constitute divisible goods, especially in terms of revenues and to a
lesser degree in terms of ownership (especially if considering state sovereignty),
and are thus amenable to self-enforcing sharing agreements. Divisibility can be
arranged according to territorial, organizational, or commercial criteria. A rst
option is to simply leave the armed group in—at least partial—control of the
territory and resources it is holding, for example as part of a local autonomy or
secession agreement or even as part of a sanction regime as in the case of the
oil-for-food program in Iraq. A second option is to oer the armed group new
resource concessions, the control of resource businesses, or lucrative government
positions overseeing resource sectors. A third option is to establish a broad shar-
ing agreement for resources through scal legislation. In this regard, any conict
settlement could be considered as involving a sharing of resource revenues as
long as opposing parties are allowed to have an input into governing. However,
in this analysis I only consider the cases in which natural resources constituted a
major nancial stake in the conict and in which agreements had an important
resource dimension (although not always incorporated into formal documents,
see below). ese agreements can take place at various levels, concerning an
entire rebel movement as part of a comprehensive peace agreement, or only
regional units as part of a local ceasere or defection process.
As with military interventions and economic sanctions, there are ethical di-
mensions to the use of sharing agreements, since those beneting from these
agreements (or at least negotiating them) include individuals or groups bearing
responsibility for war crimes and occupying positions of power through force
rather than consent and popular representation. Buying peace, in other words,
could be perceived as rewarding violence (Le Billon ). e trade-o is of
course curbing further abuses that could result from the absence of such agree-
ments. Although sanctions and military interventions should have the ethical
advantage of punishing rather than rewarding war criminals, in practice both
also often bring about suering for the general population.
As the cases of Sudan ( Khartoum Agreement), Liberia ( Abuja Ac-
cord), Sierra Leone ( Lomé Agreement), or Angola ( Lusaka Protocol)
illustrate, sharing revenue initiatives face in practice many risks of failure. e
parties to the sharing agreement may not encompass all actors with a capacity
to prolong the conict. e incapacity of a party to enforce the agreement within
its own ranks can lead to a resumption of the conict by new factions rejecting
the agreement. Such agreement can also motivate rebellion in other aggrieved
regions (e.g. in Darfur). Finally, a party can be duplicitous and use such agreement
for tactical use to rearm, reorganize or relocate troops to achieve its objectives
by military means.
ere remains much debate about the eectiveness of these strategies, and more
generally about the use of force, sanctions or negotiations. In the following section
I present an assessment of initiatives conducted since , before discussing
possible factors inuencing the relative eectiveness of these initiatives.
Resource revenues did nance belligerents before the end of the Cold War, but
in most cases their relative importance was much lower given the nancial and
military involvement of foreign powers. Furthermore, the number of inter-
national commodity-focused initiatives only sharply increased from the early
s onwards. I thus select commodity-focused international initiatives taken
between  and , identifying  armed conicts in which at least one
resource-focused initiative was used. In total,  resource-focused initiatives
are surveyed (see also Le Billon and Nicholls ). A number of caveats and
limitations to this dataset need mentioning.
First, with regard to sharing initiatives, I only consider in this analysis the cases
in which a reference to the control of a key resource by the opposing party is
included in a publicly available settlement agreement, as in the options outlined
above. Yet revenues are generally fungible and other types of economic incen-
tives may be oered in addition to, or as a substitute for, resource revenues in a
sharing agreement. Furthermore, not all nancial deals appear publicly and any
condential agreement would not appear in this dataset. e selection criterion
thus reects the diculty of identifying other types of agreements, either be-
cause they are clandestine or because they occur at a smaller scale and fail to be
reported. e  sharing initiatives identied were concluded between opposing
armed groups, with the exception of three cases that were set up unilaterally
by central governments, in part to address secessionist agendas (in Angola for
Frente de Libertação do Estado de Cabinda () and in Indonesia for both
the Free Aceh Movement () and the Free Papau Movement ()). Finally,
I assess the eectiveness of these initiatives through only three main criteria:
successful implementation, conict outcome after one year and peace stability
after ve years.
Second, I limit analysis of economic sanctions to those mandated by the
Security Council. is selection is motivated by the fact that  sanctions are
currently the sole means of legally and internationally imposing a market access
25Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
denial, with the exception of the prohibition of specic commodities through
international agreements, as in the case of narcotics, or voluntary agreements
and peer monitoring as in the case of the Kimberley Process Certication Scheme.
 sanctions can thus be considered more comprehensive than other types
of sanctions and related initiatives, even if they have often been less strictly
implemented than sanctions originating from individual states (for example 
sanctions); and  advocacy was often key in bringing about a more eective
implementation of  sanctions, as in the case of ‘conict diamonds.’ Of the
seven sanction initiatives identied, only one involves a ban on the export of
production material to the targeted group—the Taliban in Afghanistan—since
narcotics were already illegal on the international market. ird, I only consider
external military interventions, including major mercenary interventions and
foreign government-mandated interventions that were publicly reported. Of
the  selected military interventions, ve involved international mercenaries
groups (or private military companies).
Among the initiatives examined, external military interventions were the
most frequent, followed by revenue sharing, and  sanctions. Four conicts
were addressed through all three types of instruments, and eight through two
types of initiatives. To assess their potential eectiveness in terms of conict
settlement in general, I use three criteria: eective implementation and status
of the conict after one and ve years. Implementation success represents the
achievement of operational objectives, specically: the institutionalization of the
agreement in the case of sharing; curtailment of trade in the case of sanctions;
and control of resource production area in the case of military interventions.
Eectiveness has been assessed through a review of  situation reports and
expert panel investigations, as well as think tank, civil society and press reports.
As such, these assessments remain tentative and at times subjective. e one
and ve year lags assess the immediacy and sustainability of a potential eect on
conict termination. I do not argue that peace is the result of the implementation
of instruments, but simply assess the occurrence of both events.
I nd that among the dierent types of instruments, those most successfully
implemented were military interventions and revenue sharing mechanisms,
while sanctions were lagging.
is result is not surprising since sharing involves
willing—if sometimes duplicitous—parties; military intervention is generally
9 As noted above, these results are tentative since they derive from somewhat subjective and
non-standardized measures. Furthermore, in part because of the small number of cases, I do
not control for the inuence of one initiative on the implementation effectiveness of the
other. Arguably military interventions can be more effective following sanctions that have
weakened a party. Such military intervention, in turn, can affect the likelihood of a successful
sharing agreement. In 14 cases only one instrument was used; in 8 cases two were used; in
four cases three instruments were used (Angola-UNITA, Cambodia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone).
used when there are reasonable chances of success, especially in the case of
military interventions by western powers; and sanctions represent a limited
instrument of coercion which has furthermore been criticized for being poorly
enforced and used as a default policy option. When examining the potential eect
of instruments on a resolution of a conict, however, peace was achieved within
a year for about half of the successfully implemented revenue sharing agree-
ments, sanctions, and military interventions. is proportion increases for all
instruments after ve years, but sanctions were associated more frequently with
durable peace than revenue sharing, and military interventions. is suggests
that, whereas military interventions are the most frequently used and success-
fully implemented, their potential contribution to peace seems lower than that
of the two other instruments when these are also successfully implemented.
Military interventions were more successfully implemented against states than
non-state groups, but these successes were more frequently followed by war
than for non-state armed groups. Sanctions seem to have been more success-
fully implemented and followed by peace in the cases where they targeted whole
countries or governments, rather than non-state groups. Sharing agreements all
involved state and non-state groups (or the separatist government).
Turning to the criteria of resource type, Table  provides an assessment for the
major dierent resources. Regrouping resources further into three major types, I note
that revenue sharing agreements have been used for all three types. e implementa-
tion success rate of revenue sharing agreements is highest for illegal lootables and
non-lootables, but their association with a stable peace is strong only in the case of
illegal lootables. Sanctions have also been used for all three types of resources, but
mostly for lootable goods. Sanctions failed to be implemented in the only case of
illegal lootable resource, have a low implementation success rate for other lootables
and a medium one for non-lootables. Association with peace stability is also nil for
illegal lootables, but medium for the other two categories. Military interventions
were used for all three types of resource categories. Military interventions were suc-
cessfully implemented in most cases, but most strongly for non-lootable resource, a
result that also appears to be associated with peace stability.
Overall, this survey of instruments indicates that illegal lootable resources have
been most successfully dealt with through revenue sharing mechanisms. ere are
several reasons for such a nding. First, a high level of implication of state ocials
10 Although sanctions move a commodity from a legal to an illegal category, for the purpose of
analysis I maintain the pre-sanction legal status of the commodity. This allows to measure
the effect of the sanctions on commodities with pre-existing systems of trade controls (i.e.
against illegal commodities), from systems specically established against legal commodi-
ties under sanctions. Since the Kimberley Process Certication Scheme was established in
2003, conict diamonds are in effect illegal commodities. I have nevertheless maintained
conict diamonds, even after 2003, in the ‘legal’ category for this analysis.
27Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
in the narcotics sector and the inuence of drug cartels in the aairs of the state
are relatively common within producing countries—as suggested by the extensive
literature on ‘narcostates’—some of these relations providing (in the eyes of some
protagonists) a degree of ‘political stability’ (McCormack ; Le Pichon ). Second,
clandestine operations by state agents have been nanced through illegal but lucrative
sectors, some of which have involved alliances with insurgent groups—as alleged in
the case of the —occasionally leading in the entrenchment of narcotics interests
through continued support for (former) allies (Dale-Scott and Marshall ; McCoy
). ird, narcotics income can play a signicant economic role, especially during
economic downturns, thus leading to acquiescence or even complicity on the part of
authorities to sustain the economy (for the case of Mexico in the late s, see Block
); an argument that also applies during ‘reconstruction.’ Empirically, this nding
is mostly driven by cases of cease-re agreements taking place between the govern-
ment of Burma/Myanmar and several insurgencies involved in drug production and
tracking (Sherman ; see also Snyder, this volume). e case of Afghanistan is
also relevant here. e -led military campaign against the Taliban in  seemed
to match a drop in poppy production, suggesting an apparently successful case of
military intervention. Yet the intervention occurred after the Taliban had imposed
a ban, and the  military were not tasked with military cracking down on drug
production, tracking, and revenue ows before  (Felbab-Brown ). Since
, opium production sharply increased, partly a result of a sharing agreement
11 Nor was major US funding provided for counterdrug activities, contrasting with the USD 750
million dollars allocated in 2003 for the Andean region (see White House 2003 National
Drug Control Update).
Table 3. Conict termination initiatives and resource types (1989-2006)
Implementation Peace after 1 year Peace after 5 years
Resources Share
Military Share
Military Share
Illegal lootables
Narcotics 3/3 0/1 2/2 2/3 — 1/2 1/3 — 0/2
Legal lootables
On-shore oil 2/2 3/3 1/2 0/3 0/2 0/3
Alluvial minerals 6/7 3/3 4/4 4/6 1/3 1/4 4/6 2/2 2/4
Crops — — 0/1 — — — — — —
Timber 5/6 2/2 2/2 2/5 0/2 0/2 4/5 1/2 0/2
Legal non-lootables
Off-shore oil 1/1 0/1 1/1
Deep-shaft minerals 1/1 0/1 1/1
Note: gures refer to number of positive cases out of the total number of cases (i.e. initiative
successfully implemented, peace sustained after one year or ve years).
between former warlords now in the Afghan government, with—at the time—the
tacit knowledge (if not agreement) of the  government.
In the case of legal lootable resources, sanctions appear to be the most successful
with regard to peace stability, despite a low implementation success rate. Although
sharing appears as a second best option, with a higher rate of implementation
success, all successful cases were only part of broader negotiated peace agree-
ments, rather than prior to a settlement of the conict. Revenue sharing in Papua
New Guinea, for example, was part of a comprehensive agreement signed after
a three-year truce between belligerents. Military interventions to control legal
and lootable resources, while highly successful in terms of implementation, were
very often followed by a resumption of the conict within the next ve years.
In the case of non-lootable resources, military intervention was most successful,
followed by sanctions. is could be explained by the fact that these resources
were controlled by central governments unwilling to respond to sanctions (e.g.
Iraq), or facing politically motivated secessionist groups with which sharing
agreements were not respected or proved unsatisfactory (e.g. Aceh in ,
Chechnya in  and Sudan in ).
As discussed in Le Billon and Nicholls , the choice of instruments should
thus not only be dictated by the type of resources, but also by the type of conicts
involved and the mechanisms at play. In turn, the selected instruments could be
articulated with other conict resolution measures so as to sustain or amplify
the positive impacts of instruments on a possible return to peace. Furthermore,
organizations seeking to curtail revenue access for belligerents should also
consider the structure of the industry as well as the capacity and motivations
of intermediaries and authorities along the resource supply chain—as dem-
onstrated in the case of ‘conict diamonds’ and the creation of the Kimberley
Process (Smillie ).
is analysis suggests three preliminary ndings of relevance to conict termina-
tion. First, and mostly based on a review of the literature and anecdotal evidence
from the case studies reviewed, the analysis provides qualied support to the
argument that access to resource revenues by belligerents generally prolongs
armed conicts, thereby justifying that conict settlement initiatives should ad-
dress this relationship. is argument is supported by the relatively short delay
within which a number of conicts are settled after resource-focused initiatives
are implemented. Yet renewed hostilities after many of these ‘successful’ interven-
tions indicate that curtailing nancial opportunities is not a panacea. It suggests,
rather, that the importance of resource revenues for the viability and motivation
of rebellion in these conicts may be overemphasized. In this regard, resources
29Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
are rarely the only source of revenues and motivation for belligerents who often
nd ways to adapt their struggle to more dicult economic conditions resulting
from eective resource-focused initiatives (Jean and Run ).
Second, resource-focused initiatives have dierent levels of successful imple-
mentation and potential association with stable peace. Military interventions
appear to be a deceptive ‘quick-x’: often successfully implemented, these appear
to force the targeted party into a settlement, but fail to be followed by a stable
peace. Military intervention would thus require signicant follow-up to avoid the
recurrence of hostilities. In the light of the Angolan and Sierra Leonean cases, the
deployment of peacekeeping forces with weak mandates following interventions
by external mercenary groups targeting rebel-controlled resource production
areas warrants attention in this regard—in particular stronger mandating of 
peacekeepers to militarily intervene in resource control (as in the case of 
resolution  for the  in the Democratic Republic of Congo, see Le Billon
). Revenue sharing seems as successful as military intervention in terms of
implementation and is more rapidly followed by conict settlement, but is also
rarely followed by a stable peace. is nding, however, may reect a timing issue
since agreement on revenue sharing is often concluded as part of a settlement
of a conict. Given the asymmetry between belligerents and the risks of duplic-
ity characterizing many of these sharing agreements, third parties may have a
role in guaranteeing these arrangements. Adequately mandated peacekeeping
forces and an international supervising mechanism for the resource sector can
help provide such guarantees. e  Secretary General recently stressed the
importance of supporting mediation, notably for wealth sharing agreements, a
task assigned to the  Mediation Support Unit ( ). Sanctions have
a poor overall record in terms of implementation for the period examined, but
major improvements have been noted since the late s in terms of monitoring
and enforcement. Sanctions are furthermore generally lifted only once a conict
is comprehensively settled, possibly contributing to a lasting peace.
ird, the characteristics of the resource sectors targeted seem to aect the
eectiveness of these instruments. is nding does not only argue in favour of
contextualising responses, but also points to some of the dilemmas and limits
of resource-focused instruments. Conicts involving primarily illegal lootable
resources seem best addressed by sharing arrangements; legal lootable resources
by sanctions; and non-lootable resources by military intervention. Responding
to conicts related to narcotics poses a dilemma: sharing arrangements are
rarely an ocial option for governments and even less so for conict responding
countries. As noted earlier, however, a number of governments or government
ocials have nevertheless taken this option to secure a conict settlement, to
support local allies, or to reduce levels of violence (see Snyder, this issue)—not to
mention beneting from narcotics revenues at the individual level or to sustain
the economy. ere is a greater chance that at least some government ocials
will be amenable to such wealth sharing if narcotics are deeply entrenched in
the political economy of the area, support numerous livelihoods (with few al-
ternatives) as well as local revenue reinvestments, politicized and portrayed as
‘emancipatory’ (from poverty or specic elites), and if the state is too ‘weak’ to
impose anti-drugs policies through coercive means or incentives, and the state
is isolated from major donors and sources of capital investment.
e above analysis is admittedly tentative, as it does not address the many
other conditions that aect the settlement of a conict and the likelihood of
war recurrence. In the absence of a multivariate analysis that controls for these
other factors, the ndings of this article should be treated as hypotheses for
further investigation, rather than a demonstration of causal links between con-
ict resolution mechanisms and outcomes. ree further specic studies could
be conducted. e rst is a large- study encompassing all conicts involving
resources since . Such a study is currently being undertaken by Rustad et
al. () using the /Uppsala conict dataset—with preliminary results
suggesting that the type of resource (lootable and non-lootable) does aect sta-
tistically the duration of ‘post-conict’ peace. Wealth sharing appears to be an
eective peacebuilding tool when applied to conicts involving lootable resource.
So far, results have not reproduced ndings from (Le Billon and Nicholls )
and more work is needed to consider the impact of sanctions and the legality of
resources. e second study would consist of a more detailed comparative analysis
of individual case studies, so as to determine more precisely the relative impact
of resource-focused instruments. Whereas sanctions have been the object of
much attention, this has not been the case for military interventions and wealth
sharing initiatives. Such study could be extended to other instruments, such
as certication schemes, judicial measures, and corporate social responsibility
measures. e last study would be a comparative analysis of both international
and domestic conict resolution initiatives across a variety of sectors within
one or several countries. e instruments examined here represent only some
of the initiatives taken to address connections between resources and conicts,
and such a detailed study would broaden scope and depth.
More generally, a more precise analysis would result from a standardization of
the assessment of instrument eectiveness (e.g. standard questionnaires sent to
conict specialists). A more comprehensive approach would require an examina-
tion of the eectiveness of military interventions by domestic groups; a more
detailed dierentiation of the types of economic sharing agreements, including
at dierent scales; as well as an examination of regional and unilateral sanction
regimes. Future analyses could also examine the inuence of the timing and
31Colomb ia Internac ional 70, julio a diciembre de 2009: 9-34
complementary of these various initiatives, as well as the inuence of resources
on the capacity and will of external interveners, including the question of com-
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further research could focus on the means by which to establish a credible and
enforceable sharing agreement, and examine how credibility and enforceability
might vary according to the type of resources involved. Learning more about the
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... In general, resource-rich countries are more prone to experience civil conflict since acquiring the control of natural resources creates both motivation for the armed conflict and capacity for the rebels to sustain their operations [59][60][61][62][63][64][65]. Multiple other studies show how resource rents affect the intensity and duration of civil conflict [2,5,50,66]. Recent findings offer fresh perspectives in this regard: Wiegand and Keels argue that future access to postwar oil wealth leads the governments to offer concessions to rebels and shorten the duration of civil wars [67]. ...
This article advances theoretical and empirical knowledge at the nexus of energy politics and conflict intervention by analyzing the complex dynamics connecting energy resources, civil war, and outside state support of rebel groups. It focuses on the role of global energy supply competition in states’ decision to support armed groups that are involved in conflicts in other states. Further, this study enhances the extant research that focuses primarily on the resource wealth of conflict-ridden states by analyzing the effect of the interveners' resource wealth on their sponsorship of foreign non-state armed groups. This study identifies two causal paths linking energy resources, specifically natural gas, to state support of rebels by building on outside state supporters’ motives for: (1) competition over supply to global markets; and (2) secure access to resources and supply routes. The empirical section includes a large-N analysis on original data covering 454 rebel groups and their state supporters and a detailed case study of the Russian intervention in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.
The aim is to explain the link between climate-related issues and violent patterns in Colombia after the 2016 peace agreements. The main premise is that the effects of an erratic climate has an indirect but relevant influence in the emergence of new forms of violence. In other words, the climatic change and environmental degradation act as a “stressor” in different forms of violence in this commodity-based economy recovering from more than 50 years of internal armed conflict. The qualitative approach is based on semi-structured interviews with government representatives and academics to track different perspectives. It is argued that key environmental and climate-related issues in new forms of conflict after the peace deal are linked to the fragmentary distribution and control of land, the ongoing forced migration patterns, and expansion of a new and more lucrative illicit economy.
The aim of this study is to analyse the impact of the armed conflict in Colombia on the environment, and in particular, terrorist attacks on the oil infrastructure and the phenomenon of oil spills in river basins in the department of Norte de Santander. The study covers the last decade, from 2010 to 2019, and is focused on one of the most violent departments in Colombia, through which the country’s most important oil pipeline runs, connecting Caño Limón in Arauca and Coveñas in Sucre. Based on governmental and other reports, the papersituates these acts violence within within the wider dynamics ofarmed confllict. A model is also proposed pointing to the urgency of finding new variables and risk probability factors so that this threat to security in Colombia, currently as unpredictable as it is unresolved, may be effectively managed.
The connection between ecology and conflict has been the object of extensive study by political scientists and economists. From the contribution of natural resource 'scarcity' to violent unrest and armed conflict; to resource 'abundance' as an incentive for initiating and prolonging armed struggles; to dysfunctional resource management and environmental degradation as obstacles to peacebuilding, this literature has exerted a huge influence upon academic discussions and policy developments. While international law is often invoked as the solution to the socio-environmental challenges faced by conflict-affected countries, its relationship with the ecology of war and peace remains undertheorised. Drawing upon environmental justice perspectives and other theoretical traditions, the book unpacks and problematizes some of the assumptions that underlie the legal field. Through an analysis of the practice of international courts, the UN Security Council, and Truth Commissions, it shows how international law silences and even normalizes forms of structural and slow environmental violence.
Full-text available
Much of the literature on the history of liberal peace-and state-building in South Sudan focuses most directly on the actions of the international community as being responsible for the intractable conflict and issues of state fragility. Implicit in such arguments is the assumption that, if Western donors, states and organizations simply remained more committed to their liberal ideals or devised more effective strategies, the situation would be more stable and prosperous. The central argument here is that state formation is primarily an internal process that cannot be manufactured effectively by foreign actors. Civil war and the inability to implement the liberal model are primarily explained by structural factors, within South Sudan and the international states system, that are not amenable to external manipulation. These include: the incipient and informal nature of the state, the character of relevant rebel and militia groups, the presence of oil, the country's interactions within anarchic global systems and the arbitrary make-up of African states. These conditions also inhibit indigenous actors from achieving lasting peace and consolidating state power. While this analysis scrutinizes the liberal paradigm, the argument is not that the model of political and economic liberalization is mainly responsible for the persistence of conflict and state fragility. Instead, although efforts to implement the liberal model have arguably been counterproductive at times, they have in fact been largely inconsequential to the outcomes in South Sudan.
Access to and distribution of natural resources have been since immemorable time at the root of violent conflict. Over the last few decades, international institutions, legal scholars and civil society started to pay attention to the dangerous liaison between resource commodities and wars. Current debates emphasize how, through sanctions, global regulatory initiatives, and legal accountability, the governance of natural resources in conflict and post-conflict countries has improved, although international law should play a greater role to support the transition to a durable peace. The aim of this article is to illuminate the biases and limitations of dominant accounts by exploring the influence of the resource curse thesis, and its hidden propositions, upon legal developments. Using the Sierra Leonean and Liberian Truth Commissions as a case study, it shows how legal practices and discourses have contributed to a narrow understanding of resource-driven wars as started by voracious rebel groups or caused by weak/authoritarian/corrupt governments. What is obscured by the current focus on greed and ineffective resource governance? What responsibilities and forms of violence are displaced? Engaging with these questions allows us to see the dynamics through which structural injustices and distributive concerns are marginalized in existing responses to these conflicts, how the status quo is perpetuated, and the more subtle ways in which external interventions in the political economy of the Global South take place.
This article investigates the impact of the world price of a “lootable,” labor-intensive natural resource on intensity of violent conflict. Results suggest that a price increase can have opposite effects at different geographical levels of analysis: a decrease in conflict intensity overall in resource-rich countries, but an increase in conflict intensity in resource-rich subnational regions. The article argues that intensity of violence decreases overall due to rising opportunity costs of rebellion but that violence concentrates in resource-rich areas as returns to looting rise. The article introduces a new measure of diamond propensity based on geological characteristics, which is arguably exogenous to conflict and can capture small-scale labor-intensive production better than existing measures. The stated effects are found for secondary diamonds, which are lootable and related to opportunity costs of fighting, but not for primary diamonds, which are neither.
This research paper analyzes the relationship between small wars, insurgency, and the natural environment. Existing literature and data are organized into four behavioral patterns: the resource-based wars accounts for the fight over natural resources; the warfare ecology paradigm refers to non-premeditated damage in preparation for as well as during and after conflicts; the environment as a target discusses intended attacks on the ecosystem; and the insurgency–climate intersection pattern denotes a deviation in climate change that increases the frequency of intergroup violence. The main premise is that small wars emerge when the ecosystem becomes a political asset.
This article focuses on the participation of local citizens in Kosovo in the process of state-building and their engagement with the institutions imposed by the international community. While previous literature focuses either on the constitutional and institutional framework or on the more direct forms of local resistance to international intervention, this article looks into more subtle forms of resistance whereby local citizens change the meanings of imposed institutions. To this purpose, this article examines the process of adoption of two minority-relevant laws: the Law on Historic Centre of Prizren and the Law on the Village of Velika Hoča/Hoçë e Madhe. By employing a critical frame analysis, this paper points to the very subtle forms of resistance to the international rule such as: exclusion of citizens from participation in decision-making, defining citizenship in ethnic terms or changing the meaning of minority relevant legislation by framing it from the perspective of state- and nation-building. All of these actions resist the international efforts to build Kosovo as a multiethnic state and impugn the legitimacy of the system. These findings indicate the important role of local citizens in creating the sustainable peace.
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This article proposes a political economy of extraction framework that accounts for political order and state collapse as alternative outcomes in the face of lootable wealth. Different types of institutions of extraction can be built around lootable resources - with divergent effects on political stability. If rulers are able to forge institutions of extraction that give them control over the revenues generated by lootable resources, then these resources can contribute to the maintenance of political order by providing the income with which to govern. In contrast, the breakdown or absence of such institutions increases the risk of civil war by making it easier for rebels to get income. The framework is used to explain two puzzling cases that experienced sharply contrasting political trajectories in the face of lootable resources: Sierra Leone and Burma. A focus on institutions of extraction provides a stronger understanding of the wide range of political possibilities - from chaos, through dictatorship, to democracy - in resource-rich countries.
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We investigate the causes of civil war, using a new data set of wars during 1960-99. Rebellion may be explained by atypically severe grievances, such as high inequality, a lack of political rights, or ethnic and religious divisions in society. Alternatively, it might be explained by atypical opportunities for building a rebel organization. While it is difficult to find proxies for grievances and opportunities, we find that political and social variables that are most obviously related to grievances have little explanatory power. By contrast, economic variables, which could proxy some grievances but are perhaps more obviously related to the viability of rebellion, provide considerably more explanatory power.
Policymakers often trumpet the potential for third parties to stop the killing associated with civil wars, yet third parties as strategic actors also have incentives to encourage longer civil wars. We argue that in order to assess the influence of third parties on civil war duration, it is necessary to consider the interdependent nature of third party interventions as they are distributed across the set of civil war combatants. We also argue that it is important to consider the geopolitical context in which civil wars occur, rather than focusing solely on characteristics internal to these conflicts. To test our hypotheses about the impact of third parties and geopolitical factors on civil war duration, we rely on event history analysis and a sample of 152 civil wars for the period 1820–1992. We find empirical support for the idea that extremely long civil wars correspond to the equitable distribution of third party interventions—stalemates prolong wars. The analysis also indicates that separatist civil wars and ongoing civil wars in states proximate to the civil war state result in civil wars of longer duration. Finally, we find that when third parties raise the stakes of the conflict by engaging in the use of militarized force against the civil war state, the duration of these conflicts is reduced. In general, our analysis underscores the importance of modeling the interdependent and dynamic aspects of third party intervention as well as the world politics of civil wars when forecasting their duration and formulating policy.