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Governing Natural Resources for Peace: Lessons from Liberia and Sierra Leone

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Abstract

Natural resources are central to peacebuilding. International actors authorize United Nations’ sanctions to disrupt the trade in resources that fuel conflict. In the aftermath of conflict, international actors intervene to influence how natural resources are governed to ensure that resources contribute to postconflict recovery. This article examines international efforts to govern forests in Liberia and diamonds and minerals in Sierra Leone to better understand the extent to which natural resources have helped establish the underlying conditions for peace. It suggests that, despite reducing the likelihood that resource revenues will fuel conflict, a decade of natural-resource governance has made peacebuilding more challenging. Rather than foster cooperation and trust, governance interventions leave unaddressed historical sources of tension and create new sources of instability.

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... Thus, high-value natural resources make it more difficult for these countries to build sustainable peace; conflicts in which natural resources played a role have a higher likelihood of relapsing than other conflicts [16]. Therefore, it is essential that the governments, companies and the external actors consider the linkages to conflict when designing policies for management of valuable natural resources [8] [17]. ...
... This was the case in Liberia after President Sirleaf Johnson came to power in 2006. She annulled all timber contracts dating from the (pre-) conflict time and renegotiated better contracts with some extractive industry companies that increased the government's share of the revenues as well as improved working conditions for the employees [8] [18] [19]. ...
... This leverage can be used to press legislative changes, initiate and pull through concession reviews, and to take initiatives to increase transparency and inclusion of public in the resource management in general and the local population at the extraction site. Even if political will for reform is present, pressure from donors like the UN and World Bank can substantially help in pushing and speeding up the process as was the case in Liberia where the UN sanctions on timber pushed Liberia to set up a transparent and accountable system for forest and forest revenue management [8] [19]. At the same time, the financial support to make up delayed revenue flows due to (re)designing and implementing reforms, waiting for concession reviews, and delaying extraction start to make sure that contracts and assessments are fair and complete, can be crucial for these processes. ...
Article
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Extractive industries can provide great opportunities for post-conflict peacebuilding in resource-rich countries by providing revenue to finance reconstruction and set the economy back on track. However, the process of resource extraction often poses challenges for peacebuilding. This article first explains the various challenges that valuable natural resources can pose in post-conflict countries, and establishes a typology of post-conflict contexts where extractive industries, the host country, and the international community can play primary roles as peace promoters. It then elaborates on the specific roles each of these actors can play: i) what approaches are available for responsible companies that aim to be peace sensitive and even promote peace and development locally and nationally; ii) how a country that has some capacity and political will to secure long term peace and development can promote responsible exploitation; and iii) how international actors can promote responsible company and government behaviour in countries with low capacity and willingness use the natural resource base for the best of its whole population.
... Environmental peacebuilding emerged in the late 1990s largely as a critique of the dominant research focus on environmental conflict (Conca & Dabelko, 2002;Krampe & Swain, forthcoming). Environmental peacebuilding research has since produced rich empirical studies focused, among other things, on cooperation and rivalries over shared water resources between states (Ide, 2018;Swatuk, 2015;Wolf, 1998;Zeitoun & Mirumachi, 2008), the role of high-value extractive resources in sustaining armed conflicts (Ali, 2007;Beevers, 2015;Johnson, 2021;Rustad & Lujala, 2012) and the roles of environmental services, and climate change adaptation and mitigation (Eklöw & Krampe, 2019;Kashwan, 2017;Krampe, 2016;Matthew, 2014;Swatuk, Thomas, Wirkus, Krampe, & Batista da Silva, 2020). ...
Article
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For international and domestic actors, post-conflict peacebuilding is one of the most difficult policy arenas to understand and in which to operate. Environmental and natural resource governance have the potential to facilitate peacebuilding in such contexts, but existing research has not yet produced a cohesive theoretical understanding of the pathways by which natural resource management strategies can facilitate positive peace. This paper explores the wider benefits of natural resource management and discusses their potential for reducing political fragility in affected states and helping to build positive peace. The paper outlines three mechanisms through which improved natural resource governance in post-conflict contexts is theorized to have positive effects on peace: (a) the contact hypothesis, whereby the facilitation of intergroup cooperation reduces bias and prejudice; (b) the diffusion of transnational norms, where the introduction of environmental and other good governance norms supports human empowerment and strengthens civil society; and (c) state service provision, where the provision of access to public services addresses the instrumental needs of communities, thereby strengthening their belief in the state. Guided by an interest in the opportunities presented by natural resource management to support peacebuilding processes in post-conflict states, the paper seeks to revise and advance the current environmental peacebuilding research agenda.
... Taylor's regime was characterized by tight control over natural resources, and exported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pri. marily timber and diamonds, using the profits to purchase weapons Beevers, 2015). Investigations into conflict resources by Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) directly linked Liberia's natural resources (timber and diamonds) to the financing of war in Liberia and neighbouring countries (Global Witness, 2002;Beevers, 2016). ...
Chapter
The Wicked Problem of Forest Policy - edited by William Nikolakis July 2020
... This would indicate that the forest governance reform emphasis of REDD+ is well-placed, if not framed specifically as peace-building in the documents analysed. However, sometimes international interventions made peace-building more challenging in Sierra Leone and Liberia, so it would be important to avoid such problems with REDD+ initiatives [57]. A study in post-conflict reconstruction in eastern DRC, emphasized the importance of understanding and adjusting to local realities [32]. ...
Article
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Due to their carbon sequestration potential, tropical forests are a focal point for mitigation of climate change through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) contains the largest part of the Congo Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world, and has become a main focus for REDD+ initiatives. However, DRC’s ongoing instability and conflict threatens the peace and security of local people, and outcomes of such global initiatives. Content analysis of 102 documents from four major REDD+ initiatives intervening in DRC, sought to understand how civil conflict is being integrated into the discourse on REDD+ and its implication for climate change mitigation. Results showed that discussion of how conflict and political instability might impact REDD+ outcomes was limited. Concrete approaches to address the reality of civil conflict were not evident. Governance reform was, however, an important emphasis of REDD+ in DRC. Since REDD+, peace-building and development initiatives are often funded by the same institutions, it is important to begin a dialogue as to how they can be more intentional in harmonizing approaches in conflict-affected, forest-rich countries like DRC. Finding synergies has the potential to improve overall outcomes for the global climate, the forest, and the lives of local people.
... Compared to other regions, Western Africa has received little attention in the environmental peacebuilding literature, with the exception of Sierra Leone and Liberia (e.g. Ankenbrand et al., 2021;Beevers, 2015;Brown et al., 2012). In Guinea, peacebuilding committees were set up by the Ministry of Mines and Geology with the support of international partners to mitigate the occurrence and scale of mining conflicts. ...
Thesis
Trotz ihrer zunehmenden wissenschaftlichen und praktischen Bedeutung sind die Zusammenhänge zwischen Umwelt und Friedenskonsolidierung (engl. peacebuilding) noch wenig erforscht. Während in der Forschungsliteratur mehrere Möglichkeiten identifiziert werden, wie gemeinsam genutzte natürliche Ressourcen als Katalysatoren für den Frieden zwischen Konfliktparteien fungieren können, gibt es kaum empirische Belege für eine direkte Verbindung zwischen Umweltkooperation und nachhaltigem Frieden. Diese Dissertation untersucht umweltbezogene Friedenskonsolidierung (engl. environmental peacebuilding) und vertieft das theoretische Verständnis des Phänomens durch eine systematische Übersicht des Forschungsstands sowie zwei empirische Fallstudien. Auf diese Weise trägt die vorliegende Arbeit zur dringend benötigten konzeptionellen Schärfung und gleichzeitig zu einem empirisch fundierten Verständnis von Environmental Peacebuilding bei. Die Dissertation ist kumulativ aufgebaut und besteht aus drei Forschungsarbeiten. Das erste Paper befasst sich mit den Bausteinen des Environmental Peacebuilding und nimmt eine Bestandsaufnahme des Phänomens vor. Es schlägt Wege und Möglichkeiten vor, wie der Fokus von Umweltkonflikten auf Umweltkooperation und Frieden verlagert werden kann. Die beiden Fallstudien basieren auf qualitativen Methoden und untersuchen, wie Environmental Peacebuilding in zwei unterschiedlichen Kontexten, dem Nahen Osten und Westafrika, abläuft. Mit diesen beiden Arbeiten leistet die Dissertation einen empirischen Beitrag zur Environmental-Peacebuilding-Forschung und schließt eklatante Forschungslücken insbesondere hinsichtlich der Rolle von lokalen Gemeinschaften und privaten Akteuren im Environmental Peacebuilding.
... Contrary to neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia, peacebuilding is under-researched in Guinea (e.g. Beevers, 2015;Brown et al., 2012;Le Billon and Levin, 2009). Unlike its neighbours, the resource-rich country has not been through a widespread civil war. ...
Article
In the resource curse literature, resource abundance is portrayed as a threat to peace rather than an opportunity for socio-economic development. Moving away from natural resource competition and conflict, concepts like environmental peacebuilding as well as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) focus on win–win cooperation around social and environmental issues. While some overlaps exist between environmental peacebuilding, CSR and the related concept of Social License to Operate (SLO), little systematic evidence exists on the potential role of the extractive sector in the environment-peace nexus. By examining the case of Guinea, this article questions whether bauxite mining companies’ CSR activities can contribute to peacebuilding. To do so, it deconstructs these activities into their conditions, mechanisms and expected outcomes. Besides reputation and funding, companies’ desire to avoid business-threatening social unrest and their need to obtain a social license are found to feature prominently. However, disparities also exist between how companies engage in CSR. These findings are used to discuss if and how mining companies, through their engagement with CSR and SLO, contribute to sustainable development and peace. By reconceptualizing the extractive sector as an actor of environmental peacebuilding, this article creates linkages between the environmental peacebuilding and CSR/SLO literatures.
... Additional impacts include a combination of disputes, for example, inter-community, and community versus the state (Kolahi, Sakai, Moriya, Makhdoum, 2012). Examples of the causes of these disputes are focused on land rights and access, for example: a lack of clarity surrounding boundaries between private and public lands, community/interfamilial/tribal disagreements, a lack of survey maps and demarcation, and the absence of locally based arbitration to resolve minor cases (Beevers, 2015;Green, 2015;Armstrong, 2017). Human activities in this region of Iran have significantly impacted the health of the environment and the provision of natural resources. ...
Article
This research examines land disputes between local communities, individuals and the Office of Natural Resources and Watershed Management of Kalat-e Nader County Khorasan Razavi Province, Iran, over the last 24 years. A socio-legal methodology was adopted which included the analysis of legal and management frameworks and the collection of empirical data. It investigates court cases heard at the Single-Clause Commission (SCC) as well as at Special Branches (SBs) for private agricultural land holdings encroaching on public land holdings, which are commonly protected natural areas. According to the results, 551 court cases have been heard by the SCC and 126 at SBs. Moreover, a court case was lodged at SCC and SBs, on an average of every 14 days, with a decision being handed down within a duration of every 1,246 and 386 days, respectively. Furthermore, 67 percent and 69 percent of the decisions were issued in favour of public land holdings by the SCC and SBs. An understanding of these legal conflicts, their trials and outcomes, provides insight into long-term policies for conflict resolution. However, it can be suggested that the SCC needs to be re-established in addition to community-based arbitration to lead towards developing good local governance.
... For international actors, the central problem that needed to be addressed was the ability of rebel groups or corrupt government officials to loot resources and finance conflict (Altman et al. 2012). This demands ensuring that revenues from natural resources do not finance conflict; however, such interventions only slightly improve the conditions of miners and mining communities that live in debt and deep-rooted poverty (Beevers 2015). Thus, efforts to stifle the international sale and trading of minerals may reduce livelihood opportunities and renew resentment over the control of conflict minerals. ...
Article
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Competition over environmental and natural resources characteristically lies at the heart of armed conflicts in Africa. It is also common knowledge that some companies dealing in products such as laptops, smart phones, and jewellery import minerals from conflict-affected areas, thereby indirectly fuelling conflicts in these areas or undermining human rights. For a continent endowed with natural resources including minerals, Africa has suffered the brunt of this predicament. This state of affairs has lent impetus to the adoption of several regulations geared towards curbing irresponsible business practices by companies relying on such minerals, the goal being, amongst others, to guarantee the protection of human rights. In May 2017, the European Union adopted regulations intended to stop the importation of conflict minerals in Europe, debatably making giant strides in the direction of the protection of human rights. These regulations are to come into force in 2021. However, can these regulations advance the much-desired goal of the protection of human rights in Africa on issues pertaining to conflict minerals? By analyzing the 2017 EU regulations in light of previous regulations of a similar nature, the paper concludes that the said regulations constitute a weak normative framework and could in fact have unintended consequences on the fundamental rights of civilians in natural resource-rich conflict areas of Africa.
... Sierra Leone is a post-conflict country rebuilding from a disastrous civil war that ended in 2002 [35][36][37]. In the process of rebuilding, it was again thrown into turmoil by the 2014 Ebola outbreak [38]. ...
Article
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The impacts of human activities on ecosystems are significantly increasing the rate of environmental change in the earth system, reshaping the global landscape. The rapid rate of environmental change is disrupting the ability of millions of people around the globe to live their everyday lives and maintain their human niche. Evidence suggests that we have entered (or created) a new epoch, the Anthropocene, which is defined as the period in which humans and human activities are the primary drivers of planetary change. The Anthropocene denotes a global shift, but it is the collective of local processes. This is our frame for investigating local accounts of human-caused disruptive environmental change in the Pampana River in Tonkolili District, Northern Province, Sierra Leone. Since the end of the Sierra Leonean civil war in 2002, the country has experienced a rapid increase in extractive industries, namely mining. We explored the effects of this development by working with communities along the Pampana River in Tonkolili, with a specific focus given to engaging local fishermen through ethnographic interviews (N = 21 fishermen and 33 non-fishermen), focus group discussions (N = 21 fishermen), and participant observation. We deployed theoretical and methodological frameworks from human niche construction theory, complex adaptive systems, and ethnography to track disruptive environmental change in and on the Pampana from upstream activities and the concomitant shifts in the local human niche. We highlight the value of integrating ethnographic methods with human evolutionary theory, produce important insights about local human coping processes with disruptive environmental change, and help to further account for and understand the ongoing global process of human modification of the earth system in the Anthropocene.
... Poor governance of extractive resources has long been acknowledged as a risk to human development and sustainable peace in primary commodity-producing countries across the Global South (Beevers, 2015;Collier et al., 2003;Iguma Wakenge et al., 2021;Le Billon, 2001). However, where extraction and trade of mining resources have played a significant role in maintaining structures of colonial inequity and armed violence, hitherto employed peacebuilding and state-building strategies have often proven insufficient in ensuring substantial peace dividends or human development for communities affected by extractive activities or the population at large (Bebbington et al., 2008;Nem Singh and Ovadia, 2018). ...
... These, and many other examples, make the resolution of the land issue a crucial governance priority for the state. Beevers (2015) and De Simone (2015) see land and natural resource governance as central to peacebuilding, precisely because it is assumed that governance will address (land) injustices peacefully. ...
... Sierra Leone is a post-conflict country rebuilding from a disastrous civil war that ended in 2002 (Richards 1996;Richards et al. 2004;Bolten 2009Bolten , 2014Beevers 2015). In the process of rebuilding, the country was again thrown into turmoil by the 2014 Ebola outbreak (Dixon and Schafer 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Water pollution results in more than two million human deaths every year, with a disproportionate amount of mortality occurring in developing countries. Tracing how and where water-borne pollutants enter the human body during everyday practices, and estimating the potential risks of these interactions, is critical to effective mitigation or adaptive practices to reduce health impacts. To understand these local processes, we worked with human communities along the Pampana River in Sierra Leone, Africa, from its headwaters at Lake Sonfon in the northeast—an area with both active and abandoned gold mining sites—to its confluence with the Jong River in the center of the country. We first measured the concentrations of heavy metals in fish that people eat and in riverbank soils where people congregate. We then estimated the risk people face, distinguishing carcinogenic risks from non-carcinogenic risks, as well as quantifying the risk to different age groups (i.e., adults vs children) at varying distances from the mining areas and operations, and in different seasons (wet vs dry season). We found dangerously high levels of heavy metals in fish and soil and conclude through life practice analysis that people living along the Pampana River face significantly elevated health risks in their everyday lives due to contamination from metals. The mean adult cancer risk was 1.01 × 10⁻³, while the mean child cancer risk was 9.42 × 10⁻³. Higher risks are associated with the wet season and living either downstream or closest to the mining operations and were particularly acute for children. Mining operations that directly impact riverine human settlements represent an area of concern for developing countries such as Sierra Leone.
... Taylor's regime was characterized by tight control over natural resources, and exported hundreds of millions of dollars worth of primarily timber and diamonds, using the profits to purchase weapons (Beevers, 2015 (Lamb et al., 2009). It quickly became evident that implementation of the 'Three Cs' was an enormous undertaking that would require substantial support and capacity building. ...
Chapter
The Wicked Problem of Forest Policy - edited by William Nikolakis July 2020
Article
Purpose As of November 2021, six out of the 12 United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations are in Sub-Saharan Africa, spread between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Western Sahara, Mali, Central African Republic, Abyei, South Sudan and Darfur. When considered alongside other recent conflicts in Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Mozambique, many of these conflicts are driven and sustained by resource looting of oil, minerals, timber, gas and fertile land and sand. Although other factors, particularly colonialism, the creation of poorly governed states, ethnic polarization, greed and extremism contribute to violence, the author argues that resource looting is central. Taking the DRC as the case study, the purpose of this paper is to examine why traditional UN peacekeeping, grounded in the international liberal order, has failed to efficiently deescalate wars and armed conflicts that are driven by resource looting and how alternative homegrown peace strategies can be more effective. Design/methodology/approach Deploying peacekeeping, peacebuilding and resource governance and theories, this paper examines the current UN peacekeeping efforts to increase our understanding of how alternative peacekeeping strategies found in African cultures, particularly indigenous epistemologies can be used to engender sustainable peace and security. The second argument is that sustainable peace and security cannot be solely exogenous, without integrating African cultural heritage, specifically African indigenous knowledge systems or epistemologies, a factor that is consistent with people’s right to self-determination and agency. Findings Peacekeeping that is exogenously enforced has failed to create sustainable peace and security in the DRC. Originality/value To the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper is original, based on the research conducted in the DRC. Following the academic writing norms, the data is backed up by literature.
Article
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.
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Competition over environmental and natural resources characteristically lies at the heart of armed conflicts in Africa. It is also common knowledge that some companies dealing in products such as laptops, smart phones and jewellery; import minerals from conflict-affected areas, thereby indirectly fuelling conflicts in these areas or undermining human rights. For a continent endowed with natural resources including minerals, Africa has suffered the brunt of this predicament. This state of affairs has lent impetus to the adoption of several regulations geared towards curbing irresponsible business practices by companies relying on such minerals, the goal being, amongst others, to guarantee the protection of human rights. In May 2017, the European Union adopted Regulations intended to stop the importation of conflict minerals in Europe, debatably making giant strides in the direction of protection of human rights. These Regulations are to come into force in 2021. However, can these regulations advance the much-desired goal of protection of human rights in Africa on issues pertaining to conflict minerals? By analyzing the 2017 EU Regulations in light of previous regulations of a similar nature, the paper concludes that the said regulations constitute a weak normative framework and could in fact have unintended consequences on the fundamental rights of civilians in natural resource-rich conflict areas of Africa.
Chapter
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.
Chapter
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.
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Recent studies have found that natural resources and civil war are highly correlated. Yet the causal mechanisms behind the correlation are not well understood, in part because data on civil wars is scarce and of poor quality. In this article I examine thirteen recent civil wars to explore the mechanisms behind the resource-conflict correlation. I describe seven hypotheses about how resources may influence a conflict, specify the observable implications of each, and report which mechanisms can be observed in a sample of thirteen civil wars in which natural resources were most likely to have played a role. I find that two of the most widely cited causal mechanisms do not appear to be valid; that oil, nonfuel minerals, and drugs are causally linked to conflict, but legal agricultural commodities are not; and that resource wealth and civil war are linked by a variety of mechanisms, including several that others had not identified.For their comments on earlier drafts, I am grateful to Paul Collier, J. R. Deshazo, Pierre Englebert, Barbara Geddes, Anke Hoeffler, Macartan Humphreys, Philippe Le Billon, Roy Licklider, Dan Posner, Ken Shultz, and Libby Wood.
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Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Sudan: these and other civil wars haveposed seemingly intractable challenges to policymakers, scholars, andhuman rights groups seeking to put an end to such deadly conflicts. Inthe wake of negotiated settlements to civil wars, one of the thorniestproblems involves reassuring people who have been killing one anotherwith considerable enthusiasm and success that conflict is not about tobreak out again, endangering people s lives. Those concerned with theimplementation and ultimate success of negotiated settlements havedebated how best to enhance the prospects of a stable peace. Whatarrangements, if any, can be used to persuade communities thatintergroup relations will take place in a climate of relative security?Are there any mechanisms the international community might employ todiscourage the resumption of violence? Is an enduring peace settlementmore likely in certain environments than in others? In this researchnote we explore variables that help to explain the longevity ofnegotiated peace settlements.
Chapter
Rough diamonds are not the only natural resource linked to violent conflict, but they have gained much notoriety through their association with civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola, among other countries. Although diamonds did not cause these wars, they were a major funding source, allowing the fighting to continue. In the late 1990s, an intense international outcry against these “blood diamonds” led to the creation of an international governance framework to sever the link between the gems and the violence they facilitated.
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Environmental challenges create high-stakes choices in war-torn societies. Handled well, they may create a solid foundation for peace and sustainable development; handled poorly, they risk undercutting an already tenuous peace. In this article, we identify patterns and lessons from the work of the UN Environment Programme's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, which has conducted postconflict assessments in several war-torn societies over the past decade. PCDMB's experience sheds considerable light on the nature of conflict-related environmental challenges, identifies possible entry points for environmental initiatives in peacebuilding, and suggests cautions about the requirements for environmental initiatives to be peacebuilding tools. We identify four themes emerging from their work: the multiple and often indirect links between violent conflict and environmental degradation; the political dimensions of environmental assessment as a confidence-building tool; resource and environmental linkages among the different segments of war-torn economies; and the environmental dimensions of reconstituting the state, regulation, and the rule of law.
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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.
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"In brief, our research showed that environmental scarcities are already contributing to violent conflicts in many parts of the developing world. These conflicts are probably the early signs of an upsurge of violence in the coming decades that will be induced or aggravated by scarcity. The violence will usually be sub-national, persistent, and diffuse. Poor societies will be particularly affected since they are less able to buffer themselves from environmental scarcities and the social crises they cause. These societies are, in fact, already suffering acute hardship from shortages of water, forests, and especially fertile land. "Social conflict is not always a bad thing: mass mobilization and civil strife can produce opportunities for beneficial change in the distribution of land and wealth and in processes of governance. But fast-moving, unpredictable, and complex environmental problems can overwhelm efforts at constructive social reform. Moreover, scarcity can sharply increase demands on key institutions, such as the state, while it simultaneously reduces their capacity to meet those demands. These pressures increase the chance that the state will either fragment or become more authoritarian. The negative effects of severe environmental scarcity are therefore likely to outweigh the positive."
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In the aftermath of war, what determines whether peace lasts or fighting resumes, and what can be done to foster durable peace? Drawing on theories of cooperation, I argue that belligerents can overcome the obstacles to peace by implementing measures that alter incentives, reduce uncertainty about intentions, and manage accidents. A counterargument suggests that agreements are epiphenomenal, merely reflecting the underlying probability of war resumption. I test hypotheses about the durability of peace using hazard analysis. Controlling for factors (including the decisiveness of victory, the cost of war, relative capabilities, and others) that affect the baseline prospects for peace, I find that stronger agreements enhance the durability of peace. In particular, measures such as the creation of demilitarized zones, explicit third-party guarantees, peacekeeping, and joint commissions for dispute resolution affect the duration of peace. Agreements are not merely scraps of paper; rather, their content matters in the construction of peace that lasts.Many friends and colleagues have given advice and comments on the larger project of which this paper is a part. In particular I would like to thank Scott Bennett, Nora Bensahel, Erik Bleich, Dan Drezner, Lynn Eden, Nisha Fazal, Jim Fearon, Wendy Franz, Erik Gartzke, Chris Gelpi, Doug Gibler, Hein Goemans, Amy Gurowitz, Lise Howard, Bob Jervis, Bob Keohane, Zeev Maoz, Lisa Martin, Dani Reiter, Don Rothchild, Evan Schofer, Curt Signorino, Jack Snyder, Al Stam, Celeste Wallander, Barb Walter, Suzanne Werner, and four anonymous reviewers. I am grateful also for research assistance from Carol St. Louis. This project would not have been possible without financial and intellectual support from the Olin Institute at Harvard University, the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and the Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University.