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Resource concerns spark ‘violent’ clashes

The Netherlands – Natural resource extraction has emerged as a ‘growing driver of violent conflicts’, said Egbert Wesselink during a materials scarcity seminar at TU Delft University in the Netherlands this Monday.

‘Over the past 60 years, no less than 40% of civil wars can be associated with natural resources,’ suggested the senior advisor to civic and social organisation IKV Pax Christi. And since 1990, he contended, there have been ‘at least 18’ violent conflicts fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources.

Citing findings from the United Nations Environment Programme, Wesselink warned of the ‘significant potential’ for competition and conflict over natural resources to grow over the coming decade.

‘Countries whose economies are dependent on the export of a narrow set of primary commodities are more likely to be politically fragile, while weak states prove to be unable to resolve resource’€based tensions peacefully and equitably,’ Wesselink noted. Some examples on a long list of struggling nations were Nigeria, the Niger Delta, Peru and Sudan.

Wesselink advocated ‘depoliticising and demilitarising’ the materials industry, thus calling for the close involvement of local communities and adherence to the Global Governance agenda. Corporate social responsibility initiatives that have helped to date include the Natural Resource Charter and the Conflict Free Gold Initiative, as well as the Mineral Certification Scheme of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

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