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08 IASC| Going beyond the resource curse: addressing resource-conflict links in Sierra Leone and the DRC
Ruben de Koning - UNDP Oslo Governance Center
20% of dense tropical forest is located in areas affected by armed conflict since 1990. Between the different continents Africa is home to most tropical forest under threat 130 million ha out of a total of 220 million ha. Recognizing the significant overlap of forest and conflicts commentators have identified a new type of forest war on the rise in the western half of the continent, stretching from Sierra Leone to the DRC. Rather than territory or ideology, these conflicts seem to feature natural resources and the rights to these as the most important drivers. Whereas resources are critical drivers of African forest wars the lines of causation are not straightforward. Resources can be used by belligerent groups to finance war efforts whereby prolonging conflict. State resource dependence may damage economic growth and state performance, increasing the likelihood of violent opposition. And local opposition to resource extraction practices may scale up to widespread violence. Above linkages concern mainly non-renewable high value resources. In addition, unequal access to land, forest and water also add to grievances that motivate armed conflict. Forest wars in Africa tend to feature more than one of the above linkages. The present paper will briefly illustrate the multiple resource conflict linkages in Sierra Leone and the eastern DRC. Next it will review how the different linkages are addresses in past and ongoing peace efforts and estimate the risk of backlashes to the peace process as a result of wrongly or under recognizing certain dimensions. The paper argues that little progress is being made to clarify and recognize individual and collective property and access rights. Instead post-war resource governance approaches insist on centralist models to legalize high value resource extraction and root out all informal activities. Recommended actions include (1) selective sanctions on some resources and players in the eastern DRC; (2) concession reviews in mineral industries that allows for the legalization of informal business operations in both countries the reviews should be made part of peacemaking in eastern DRC; and (3) land tenure and justice reforms that clarify individual rights vis-à-vis the community in Sierra Leone and between communities in the eastern DRC.
About this Document :
|Release Date:||September 2008|
|File Size:||69 KB|