Angola + 3 more

Security Council underscores need for peacekeeping mandates to consider helping States prevent illegal exploitation of natural resources from fuelling conflict


Security Council
5705th Meeting (AM & PM)

Following Day-long Debate, Presidential Statement Emphasizes Importance of Strengthening Sanctions Committees, Expert Groups

Recognizing the role played by natural resources in armed conflict, the Security Council said today that the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations should consider helping the Governments of resource-rich countries prevent their illegal exploitation from fuelling further violence.

A statement read out by Karel De Gucht, Council President for June and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, also said: “The Council recognizes, in conflict and post-conflict situations, the importance of cooperation in shared responsibility, among source, transit and destination countries in preventing and combating trafficking, illicit trade and illegal exploitation of natural resources.”

The Council also stressed the importance of commodity monitoring and certification schemes such as the Kimberley Process for diamonds, and of strengthening the contributions made by existing sanctions committees and various groups and panels created by the Council. It emphasized that, in countries emerging from conflict, lawful, transparent and sustainable management and exploitation of natural resources was a critical factor in maintaining stability and preventing a relapse into conflict.

Reaffirming every State's sovereign right to control and exploit its own resources - a crucial factor in long-term economic growth and sustainable development - the Council highlighted the importance of transparent and effective national security and customs structures in managing those resources.

Opening the day-long debate that preceded the statement, the President said the topic was particularly timely because the Council had learned lessons from its imposition of embargoes on various natural resources, including diamonds and timber, and because such countries as Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were now emerging from conflict.

B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that such lessons included the need to address natural resource management early in peace processes, and stressed also the need to build the national economic governance capacities of vulnerable countries. “Any agreements on the management of resources will remain on paper only, if they are not accompanied by the necessary capacity.” Good governance and transparency in managing resources were required, not only of Governments in whose territory illegal exploitation was taking place, but also of all those in a position to police exploitation and illicit trade.

In her address to the Council, Sheika Haya Rashed Al Khalifa ( Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, underscored the need for more cooperation between the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council in addressing the complex relationship between natural resources and conflict. The three bodies should collectively debate how best to come up with a development-oriented approach to fostering stability and prosperity and preventing relapse into conflict.

Dalius Čekuolis ( Lithuania), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that organ could consider, on an ad hoc basis, the establishment of a format to discuss such an approach.

More than 30 speakers participating in the debate agreed that natural resources were often at the heart of conflicts, and that civil strife was often fuelled by a diverse group of players, including huge multinational corporations, people smugglers, corrupt local officials, arms dealers and drug traffickers.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that, while “blood diamonds” might be the best known object of illicit exploitation, his country also had “blood copper”, “blood gold”, “blood coltan” - a mineral extracted from the Congolese jungles and essential to cell phone technology - and “blood cobalt”. To address such a serious and challenging situation, the Council might consider backing the creation of global cooperative schemes similar to the Kimberley Process - designed to certify the origin of diamonds from conflict-free sources - to deal with the exploitation of other natural resources.

Other speakers noted that the increasing scarcity of resources, driven by rising world population and unsustainable consumption, could destabilize already fragile societies or further sharpen conflicts. In that light, Pakistan's representative said the international community would very soon need to focus on promoting the equitable exploitation of oil and water.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, Qatar, Panama, Congo, Ghana, South Africa, France, Peru, China, United States, Italy, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Belgium, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Switzerland, Tunisia (on behalf of the African Group), Senegal, Egypt, Argentina, Japan, Botswana, Iceland, Canada, Brazil, India, Liechtenstein, Norway and Benin.

The meeting started at 10:20 a.m. and suspended at 1:50 p.m. It resumed at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:05 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2007/22 reads as follows:

“The Security Council recalls the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and, in particular, the Security Council's primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In this respect, the Security Council recognizes the role that natural resources can play in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.

“The Security Council reaffirms that every State has the full and inherent sovereign right to control and exploit its own natural resources in accordance with the Charter and the principles of international law.

“The Security Council stresses that natural resources are a crucial factor in contributing to long-term economic growth and sustainable development.

“The Security Council recalls resolution 1625 (2005), whereby the Council adopted the declaration on strengthening the effectiveness of the Security Council's role in conflict prevention, particularly in Africa, in which it reaffirmed its determination to take action against illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources and high-value commodities in areas where it contributes to the outbreak, escalation or continuation of armed conflict.

“Moreover, the Security Council notes that, in specific armed conflict situations, the exploitation, trafficking and illicit trade of natural resources have played a role in areas where they have contributed to the outbreak, escalation or continuation of armed conflict. The Security Council, through its various resolutions, has taken measures on this issue, more specifically to prevent illegal exploitation of natural resources, especially diamonds and timber, from fuelling armed conflicts, and to encourage transparent and lawful management of natural resources, including the clarification of the responsibility of management of natural resources, and has established sanctions committees and groups and panels of experts to oversee the implementation of those measures.”

“The Security Council emphasizes the importance of improving the work of and strengthening the contributions made by existing sanctions committees and the various experts' groups and panels established by the Council in dealing with the impact of illegal exploitation of natural resources on conflicts in the countries under its consideration. The Security Council also recalls the work done by the Security Council Informal Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions (2006) and refers in this regard to its report (S/2006/997).

“The Security Council recognizes that United Nations missions and peacekeeping operations deployed in resource-endowed countries experiencing armed conflict could play a role in helping the Governments concerned, with full respect of their sovereignty over their natural resources, to prevent the illegal exploitation of those resources from further fuelling the conflict. The Security Council underlines the importance of taking this dimension of conflict into account, where appropriate, in the mandates of United Nations and regional peacekeeping operations, within their capabilities, including by making provision for assisting Governments, upon their request, in preventing the illegal exploitation of natural resources by the parties to the conflict, in particular, where appropriate, by developing adequate observation and policing capacities to that end.

“The Security Council recognizes, in conflict and post-conflict situations, the importance of cooperation, in shared responsibility, among source, transit and destination countries in preventing and combating trafficking, illicit trade and illegal exploitation of natural resources. The Security Council also emphasizes the important contribution of commodity monitoring and certification schemes such as the Kimberley Process.

“The Security Council acknowledges the crucial role that the Peacebuilding Commission, together with other United Nations and non-United Nations actors, can play in post-conflict situations, in assisting Governments, upon their request, in ensuring that natural resources become an engine for sustainable development. In this regard, the Security Council recognizes the role of voluntary initiatives aiming at improving revenue transparency, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The Security Council also stresses that the use, disposal and management of natural resources is a multifaceted and cross-sector issue that involves various United Nations organizations. In this regard, the Security Council acknowledges the valuable contribution of various United Nations organizations in promoting lawful, transparent and sustainable management and exploitation of natural resources.

“The Security Council recognizes the need for the private sector to contribute to the good governance and avoidance of illegal exploitation of natural resources in countries in conflict. In this regard, the Council also notes the important contribution voluntary principles and standards play in encouraging multinational enterprises to adopt a responsible business conduct such as provided for by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the OECD Risk Awareness Tool for Multinational Enterprises in Weak Governance Zones and the United Nations Global Compact.

“The Security Council stresses the important role, in the context of security sector reform in post-conflict environment, of transparent and effective national security and customs structures for the effective control and management of natural resources, by preventing the illegal access to and the trade and exploitation of those resources.

“The Security Council emphasizes that, in countries emerging from conflict, lawful, transparent and sustainable management - at local, national and international levels - and exploitation of natural resources is a critical factor in maintaining stability and in preventing a relapse into conflict. The Council recalls in this respect that it has welcomed country-specific initiatives such as the Governance and Economic Assistance Management Program (GEMAP) in Liberia (S/RES/1626 (2005)) and related efforts, such as the Liberia Forest Initiative.

“The Security Council reiterates the important role of regional organizations in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as its relevant resolutions 1625 (2005) and 1631 (2005), presidential statement 2006/39 and presidential statement 2007/7. In this regard, the Security Council recognizes, in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, the need for a more coordinated approach by the United Nations, regional organizations and Governments concerned, in particular the empowerment of Governments in post-conflict situations to better manage their resources.”


The Security Council met this morning to consider the impact of natural resources on armed conflict.


Council President KAREL DE GUCHT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, said in an introductory statement that his country had organized today's debate to consider the importance of natural resources in many conflicts. Those resources were often used to generate revenue, but, where governance was weak, they often became a source of tension or were used to finance combatants. It was time for the Council to focus on lessons learned from its imposition of embargoes on various natural resources, including diamonds and timber. The debate was particularly timely because many concerned countries were now emerging from conflict, including Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Today's debate was an opportunity to focus on action by the Council and the international community, and to consider how natural resources could be used to spur development in post-conflict situations.

B. LYNN PASCOE, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that, in too many cases, illegal exploitation of natural resources had triggered, exacerbated and prolonged armed conflict. The connection could be complex, and was not limited to one region or one economic commodity. Nor was it limited to one phase of conflict, and the search for a solution must take all those factors into consideration. With good governance and effective measures to ensure accountability and transparency, natural resources could be a great boon to a country, contributing to peace and development. “We need to work actively to help ensure that those factors are in place. A wide range of actors will have to be involved.”

Noting that he had just returned from Somalia, where food and water insecurity, combined with intra- and inter-clan rivalries and a legacy of poor governance, had left the country mired in violence, he said the proposed National Reconciliation Congress might be its best chance in 15 years to start moving forward. Likewise, the African Union and the United Nations were embarking on a new effort to assist the parties in Darfur to conclude a political settlement, and it would be remiss to ignore the environmental underpinnings of that crisis, as pointed out by a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

In Afghanistan, the drug economy represented a fundamental threat to still fragile political, economic and social institutions, he said. While progress was required on the political, military and regional fronts, no solution would be possible without fundamental progress in eliminating the drug economy. As the international community faced those and other challenges, it could draw on many lessons from the past decade. Thanks to the Security Council's efforts, the international community had gained important practical experiences in the context of sanctions regimes and peacekeeping, on which it must build.

He said the imposition of targeted sanctions in Angola, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, backed in many cases by the appointment of expert groups to monitor compliance, had yielded a wealth of knowledge about the conflicts themselves and how they were fuelled by the illicit extraction of natural resources. The international community must make better use of the knowledge gleaned from sanctions experiences, knowledge that could be invaluable in enhancing the quality of crisis prevention in the work of the United Nations. The Department of Political Affairs provided substantive servicing to sanctions committees and supported the work of the various expert groups and panels. Targeted measures were playing a crucial role in sustaining peace processes, especially in post-conflict peacebuilding phases, as in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Peacekeeping operations, when adequately resourced, could play a vital role in monitoring developments on the ground, enforcing sanctions and embargoes, and supporting State capacities in that area, he said. The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), for instance, had worked diligently to support Government compliance with the Kimberley Process, a prerequisite for the removal of the embargo on rough diamonds, and had supported development of the National Forestry Reform Law, which had allowed the lifting of timber sanctions in September 2006. Moreover, while diamond sanctions had been lifted in April, the Council's most recent resolution called for a continuing mandate for the relevant group of experts.

He said the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) had been helping to return stability to the resource-rich eastern part of that country with the relevant panel of experts, though the scale of illegal exploitation of natural resources far surpassed MONUC's resources. Neither sanctions nor peacekeeping on their own could produce sustainable solutions to that problem. What was required was a commitment by all stakeholders to equitable sharing of natural resources and to good governance, accountability and transparency. Crisis-prevention strategies must be greatly enhanced to include the capacity to deal with natural resource issues early on. Natural resource management should also be addressed during peace processes and in constitutions. The Department's fledgling mediation support capacity was working to develop operational guidance for mediators on that question, and would include the expertise of a planned standing team of mediation specialists.

“However, any agreements on the management of resources will remain on paper only, if they are not accompanied by the necessary capacity,” he said, stressing the need to build the national capacities of vulnerable countries to establish effective economic governance. Good governance and transparency were also required, not only of Governments in whose territory illegal exploitation was taking place, but also of those in a position to police exploitation and illicit trade. For example, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo must live up to its commitments under the “governance contract”, which promised improved stewardship of the country's resources, international support for those efforts would be critical.

He said that translating those types of commitments into action required a comprehensive approach that would draw together the technical and financial resources of development agencies, regional diplomacy and international commodity-specific monitoring and certification schemes. Regional approaches were key, given the cross-border dimension of the illicit trade in resources. New regional initiatives, such as the December 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which included a protocol against the illegal exploitation of natural resources, were welcome. “We must also continue to encourage efforts - with regional organizations, States and non-governmental organizations - to regulate business practices and promote corporate responsibility in conflict-prone environments, not just with respect to specific industries, but across the board,” he said, citing the United Nations Global Compact, the Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

The international community must not overlook the potential for the natural resource challenge to provide opportunities for cooperation and for defusing political tensions, he stressed. Equitable and accountable natural resource management was a key element of an effective State and must be critical to the international community's conflict prevention, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development efforts. A coherent and consistent United Nations approach to natural resource management was, therefore, essential and would have a critical role to play in the Organization's peace, security and development activities.

SHEIKA HAYA RASHED AL KHALIFA ( Bahrain), President of the General Assembly, emphasized that her participation in the debate confirmed the need for more cooperation between the Assembly, as the chief deliberative, representative and policy-making organ of the United Nations, and the Security Council, as the organ with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The various and complex aspects of the relationship between natural resources and conflict should be addressed through collaboration involving the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, as they extended beyond the Charter prerogatives of one principal organ.

An important aspect in considering the link between natural resources and potential conditions for conflict was the ownership of those resources, she said, noting that questions relating to the distribution of revenues among various groups provided fertile environments for conflict. Over-dependency on natural resources could lead to fragile circumstances and was not conducive to viable development strategies in many poor countries. Sustainable and equitable management of natural resources lay at the heart of today's debate.

Improving governance of natural resources in the absence of conflict was not the primary responsibility of the Security Council, she said. However, while respecting the sovereign rights of all Member States, a more efficient and effective use of natural resources should be encouraged and clearly linked with the international development agenda. In post-conflict situations, the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council should collectively debate how best to establish a development-oriented approach in order to foster stability and prosperity and prevent relapse into conflict.

DALIUSČEKUOLIS (Lithuania), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the twin role of natural resources in fuelling and motivating conflicts was increasingly recognized in strategies for conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, even though every conflict had its own particular circumstances. An effective peacebuilding framework for dealing with natural resources required a multidisciplinary approach addressing equality - including gender equality - governance, finance, economic policies and international trade.

Often, a country's dependence on a single commodity, as well as poverty and corruption, could lead to instability, he said. For that reason, it was important to diversify the export sectors of countries emerging from conflict and to integrate them into the global economy in such a way as to strengthen peacemaking, nation-building efforts and poor communities. Improved management of natural resources in that way should be made a central element of United Nations system's State-building efforts.

He said the Economic and Social Council could consider, on an ad hoc basis, the establishment of a format for discussing development-oriented approaches to the use of natural resources. That would be useful in advancing the understanding of the link between natural resources and security, in addition to its humanitarian and developmental dimensions, and for creating an integrated approach that would include the Breton Woods institutions. Particular concerns about the growing number of conflicts in oil-producing regions might warrant a specific focus on the energy sector, with attention to greater transparency and accountability. However, the key challenge was to transform all “war economies” fuelled by natural resources into “peace economies”, in which those resources provided a source of conflict prevention and human security.

EDDY PRATOMO, Director-General for Legal Affairs and International Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said lack of good governance was one factor in fuelling armed conflicts. As such, countries facing difficulty in managing their natural resources should invest in strengthening the rule of law, as Indonesia was currently doing. However, a country's stability also depended on the ability to withstand external shocks, which was beyond the capacity of many Member States. For that reason, a discussion on the link between armed conflict and natural resources should also take into account a nation's ability to withstand external shocks. Countries must recognize that natural resources could only be extracted if several criteria were met, including the possession of high-technology capital and the existence of a well-functioning market.

He said there would be no fierce competition over natural resources if a resource was not imbued with strategic or financial value. Also, a surge in demand could increase pressure to obtain a particular resource at all cost. Thus, in addition to source countries, destination or transit countries also had major roles to play in the question of natural resources. Sellers, buyers and users had equal responsibility to prevent natural resources from being used to fuel armed conflict. It was clear that fierce competition over valuable natural resources fuelled armed conflicts, and not natural resources as such.

The Council should come to an understanding of its limitations with respect to the issue, he said. Although it could impose sanctions and authorize military action, that alone would not solve the underlying problem. The Council might be tempted to become involved in the area of prevention, in which case it might play a role in the disbursement of proceeds from the trade of natural resources. However, the United Nations Charter had designed several other institutions to tackle successive phases of conflict. For instance, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) worked to promote good governance in many developing countries. They could contribute “enormously” to the maintenance of peace and security. The Peacebuilding Commission was also in a position to address issues related to post-conflict situations. Perhaps the Council and the General Assembly could organize a joint international conference on the issue.

JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER (Qatar), emphasizing that the issue of natural resources lay within the competences and mandates of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, said that dealing with that topic in the Security Council infringed on the prerogatives of those bodies and undermined the Organization's democratic principles. The Council's influence should not be extended to linking natural resources to issues of international peace and security.

He said the political and economic independence of any State was based on its ability to exercise full and undiminished sovereignty over its resources in the interest of its people, and endowing the Council with such influence contravened international law. The General Assembly's 1962 resolution on permanent sovereignty over natural resources and its 1974 resolution on the charter of economic rights and duties of States both indicated that nations had the right to permanent sovereignty over their national wealth and resources. Also noteworthy were international rules governing the question of natural resources in situations of military occupation, which bound occupying Powers not to exploit natural resources in occupied territories.

Conflicts took place for international and domestic political reasons, and not due to natural resources, he said. The fact that some members accepted a reference in the presidential statement before the Council that confined the relationship between natural resources and conflict to “armed conflict and post-conflict situations” showed their recognition that they lacked the competence to consider the natural resources issue in general. The Secretary-General, in some of his reports, related the causes of conflict in Africa to the different stages of economic development, patterns of internal and international interaction and regional parameters. Those reports also touched on the cumulative outcomes of the colonial era, but, while they referred to natural resources, they did not focus on them as a root cause of conflict.

It would have been more useful to address the relationship between natural resources and development, rather than approaching natural resources as a source of conflict, he said. Developed countries could play a role in helping to integrate developing countries into world markets by facilitating access for their exports, giving them preferential treatment, facilitating the transfer of technology, increasing official development assistance and debt relief, and supporting South-South cooperation. That type of assistance could help richly endowed African countries make leaps and strides towards achieving their development goals.

ALFREDO SUESCUM ( Panama) said the Council must not be limited to a reactive role and must cooperate with Governments to help them achieve greater levels of accountability and transparency by ensuring the responsible use of natural resources for the population. Unfortunately, mechanisms like the Kimberley Process were voluntary. The Peacebuilding Commission and other organs could be more active in monitoring the use of natural resources and ensuring they were used for development.

PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo), aligning himself with the statement to be made by Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, said many of the natural resources in developing countries were exploited by powerful individuals, corporate groups and States without Government control, which sparked and sustained secessionist movements. For that reason, it was essential to strengthen both regional mechanisms and the democratic systems of the countries in which resources were being exploited.

He stressed the particular importance of developing political pluralism and oversight mechanisms in such countries, in addition to the promotion of the rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption - in a word, good governance. There was also a need for codes of conduct for all those involved in economic activities. Multinational corporations should not be treated more leniently than local officials. In addition, countries emerging from conflict needed help to create the conditions necessary for better management of natural resources.

ROBERT TACHIE-MENSON ( Ghana) stressed the importance of responsibly managing natural resources in the interest of conflict prevention and for the benefit of the population. They must be equitably distributed in order to provide health care and education, facilitate poverty alleviation and entrench the rule of law.

He said the Kimberley Process had been somewhat effective, but such regimes must be strengthened to thwart evasive tactics. In addition, it was important to consider the environmental aspect of illegal exploitation. Water must be discussed as an important resource, as its scarcity could fuel conflict. To avert such crises, the international community must institute a comprehensive, coordinated programme of action on the management of water resources, population policy and climate change.

DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa) said that, while many African countries used their resources to promote a better life for their people, in countries where there was conflict, the presence of natural resources had become a curse. In many countries that had seen conflict, rebel movements had developed access to external markets of the developed world, making the role of traders, transport companies, international banks and transnational corporations a critical part of the debate. The Governments of those involved in trading with the rebels and smugglers, and arms traders also needed to be held accountable for the actions of their entities abroad. Accountability, transparency and ethical behaviour on the part of the private sector in the trade of natural resources, therefore, should be encouraged.

He said that the role of targeted and individual sanctions had also become an important tool in addressing the illicit trade in natural resources and its negative consequences. The reversibility of targeted sanctions, however, could act as an important carrot in ensuring that, once behavioural modification had been ensured, the measures were reversed. In the case of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, the Council should ensure that the root causes of conflicts and the role of resources as a contributing factor were addressed in peace agreements as a way of ensuring that countries did not relapse into the vicious cycle of conflict. The nexus between natural resources and conflicts manifested itself in different ways in different countries. A holistic approach was critical in designing a multifaceted policy response to those complex issues.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE ( France) said the Kimberley Process, while considered the main success with regard to certification of a mineral resource, remained fragile, dependent on improvements in keeping statistics and the implementation of more rigorous internal controls. Such initiatives must be encouraged, as they responded directly to the problem of the illegal exploitation of natural resources as a factor in conflict. It was necessary for the Council to strengthen the effectiveness of sanction mechanisms, with a view to greater coherence and greater responsiveness. The Council must also consider the actions to be taken in the period of conflict management, so that those actions were naturally extended to the post-conflict period. That meant also taking the problem into account in mandates for peacekeeping operations.

Continuing, he said there was a need to recognize that the links between natural resources and conflicts concerned areas that came under the competence of other bodies. The exact extent of the Council's responsibility in the matter in relation to other international institutions and bilateral partners could not be determined in advance, but depended in practice on the circumstances of each specific case, for which there was no model. Given its mandate, the Peacebuilding Commission would naturally have to take into consideration the problem of the exploitation of natural resources in the context of the work it had started with Burundi and Sierra Leone.

LUIS ENRIQUE CHÁVEZ ( Peru) said societies with low economic growth and per capita incomes and a high dependence on natural resources and local commodities, often coupled with ethnic or tribal tensions, tended to be more prone to conflict. It was important to ensure that such societies had viable economic, social and income-generating systems and capacities. However, it was not enough to pass resolutions and hold elections; it was necessary to ensure that viable compacts were established and mechanisms were put in place to ensure the equitable distribution of natural resources, along with traditional elements of good governance and transparency.

He said the Council should sharpen its tools towards that end, and ensure that post-conflict States regained or maintained sovereign control over their natural resources. It was up to the Council to follow political situations on the ground and help States regain control over their territories and implement relevant sanctions and embargos. The Council must also work alongside other agencies, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to ensure that resources were managed sustainably in post-conflict situations and that revenues were targeted towards long-term development and reconstruction.

WANG GUANGYA ( China) said that, in conflicts surrounding natural resources, it was necessary to find out the root causes, taking into account such factors as local history, religion, culture, politics and economy. In order to address the relation between natural resources and conflicts, it was, first of all, necessary to truly respect the full and permanent sovereignty of countries over their natural resources. General Assembly resolutions since the 1960s recognized that sovereignty played an important role in encouraging countries to develop their own economies through their own efforts. It was also necessary to continue to strengthen the coordination among various United Nations agencies. The Peacebuilding Commission offered guidance to post-conflict countries concerning effective use of natural resources in the reconstruction process.

Stressing that the Council should continue to play a constructive role, he said an embargo on natural resources produced in conflict areas was an important tool for Council intervention, and all countries must, therefore, strictly implement existing sanctions. The Council should, however, give more consideration to possible humanitarian impacts of sanctions, the purpose of which was not to punish, but to encourage Governments to review their policy. It would, therefore, be important to improve the mechanism for lifting sanctions immediately once the time was ripe. It was also necessary to let such regional organizations, mechanisms and initiatives as the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region and the Kimberley Process play a full role.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD (United States) said that, since the release 10 years ago by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan of a report on the sources of conflict in Africa, which had identified natural resources - diamonds, timber and other raw materials - as contributing factors to fighting in Liberia, Angola and Sierra Leone, the international community had taken important steps to address the use of such resources to finance conflict, particularly in Africa, and to help ensure that resultant revenue was put to good use. The United States believed that the transparent, equitable management of resources was a key aspect of post-conflict reconstruction that should be addressed by the Peacebuilding Commission, with a particular focus on the participation of women, who were often dependent on natural resources and most affected by violent conflict.

He provided a brief overview of United States efforts to curb illegal trade in and exploitation of natural resources through its work with relevant United Nations agencies, the Group of Eight (G-8) and bilateral assistance programmes in the areas of forests, land, minerals and water, and their links to violent conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding. Good governance and transparency were critical factors needed to delink natural resources from violent conflict. Good governance included working within financial and judicial institutions responsible for collecting Government revenues from the extractive industries and enforcing contracts and regulatory action. Good governance also included civil society participation in deciding how resources were managed and clarifying resource rights, which was particularly important in post-conflict settings and peace agreements, in order to prevent further eruptions of violence over the control of resources.

MARCELLO SPATAFORA ( Italy) supported a strong role for the Council in preventing the exploitation of natural resources by parties to conflict. In such cases as Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Council had responded to the crisis by imposing commodity sanctions in a successful and effective manner. Where commodity sanctions were in place, peacekeeping operations should be given the mandate to assist the Government concerned in preventing illegal exploitation of such commodities. In the post-conflict period, it was fundamental to ensure accountable and transparent management of natural resources. He stressed, in that regard, the crucial role the Peacebuilding Commission could play. Regional initiatives, such as the Protocol against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources adopted by the International Conference on the Great lakes Region last December, could also play an important role.

He underlined, among initiatives not directly linked to the Council's actions, the importance of fighting corruption and promoting transparency of revenues and corporate responsibility of private sector enterprises through such programmes as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The Kimberley Process, a General Assembly activity, was, so far, the best example of international cooperation on the issue. As growing wealth and demographic increase would put pressure on the environment, the resulting scarcity of resources could originate new conflicts. He mentioned, in that regard, the significance of a myriad of United Nations frameworks, overseen by the Economic and Social Council, aimed at improving the management and sustainable use of natural resources at the global level.

PETER BURIAN ( Slovakia) said it would be too simplistic to see illegal exploitation of natural resources as an isolated issue, adding that democracy, good governance, rule of law, transparency, fair distribution of revenues and security sector reform were inextricably linked to the problem. Peacebuilding initiatives should address resource-management reform in the early stages of post-conflict peace consolidation. It would be important in that regard for the Peacebuilding Commission to pay special attention to natural resources in its efforts to manage post-conflict situations.

Sanctions could be instrumental in limiting the scope of a conflict and restoring peace and stability, he said. More should be done in the field of individual sanctions targeting those who benefited from the illegal exploitation of natural resources. The international community and neighbouring countries had a crucial role to play in ensuring that resources were not used to sustain, or even begin, intra-State wars. Much more attention must be paid to cross-border smuggling and illicit trade in natural resources. Regarding the question of impunity, those responsible for looting minerals from resource-rich countries should be prosecuted alongside those brought to justice for major violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.

EMYR JONES PARRY ( United Kingdom) said the transparent use of natural resources was an engine for growth and development. As such, resultant issues were not for the Council to consider. It should focus instead on the link between natural resources and conflict. Among other things, such resources could be used to finance fighting and other illegal activity, or to prolong conflicts already under way. Poor governance of natural resources could weaken Governments dependent on the revenues to shore up development efforts. Political systems and structures of governance must be reformed in order to address those challenges. Such efforts must be targeted to specific situations, drawing on the expertise of all stakeholders and concerned parties.

When the Council was preparing the mandates and activities of peace operations, it might consider looking at such issues as the destabilization caused by tension over natural resources, he said. It could also assess the role of natural resources in the conflict. However, the economic benefits of natural resources were not for the Council to consider, but rather for the Peacebuilding Commission or other United Nations bodies. The Council should take steps together with those bodies to strengthen and enhance international action.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the role of the United Nations in addressing the role of natural resources in conflict or post-conflict situations should be to assist States on relevant political and advisory matters. The Council should be guided by the Charter-based principles of sovereignty, non-interference and the political independence of States. The United Nations should also draw on local efforts, a positive example of which was the Pact on Peace, Security and Development of the Great Lakes Region, which included a protocol against the exploitation of natural resources.

The Security Council should, nevertheless, continue to explore targeted sanctions where warranted, while closely monitoring the socio-economic and humanitarian impact of such measures, he said. Some of the issues under discussion today were beyond the Council's competence and should involve the relevant special bodies, including the Commission on Sustainable Development and the General Assembly's Second Committee (Economic and Financial).

Council President DE GUCHT, Foreign Minister of Belgium, speaking in his national capacity, said that his country had been strongly supporting many initiatives to keep natural resources from fuelling conflict. Good governance was essential to prevent resources from becoming a destabilizing factor. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was particularly important to make sure resources were well handled for the interest of the population, lest full civil war start again. He was not advocating international responsibility for the use of natural resources, but instead, mechanisms of international cooperation to assist the transformation of the management of resources by the countries concerned.

In that light, he said, accountability and tracking of resources must be strengthened, with institutions such as the World Bank helping to develop management systems for the countries that needed them. The Council's role was important in establishing the link between security and development, and in urging all stakeholders to bear that in mind in the interest of peace. In addition, as conflicts emerged, it was important for the Council to systematically deal with the factor of natural resources, for both conflict prevention and in the creation of peacekeeping mandates.

MICHAEL VON UNGERN-STERNBERG ( Germany), on behalf of the European Union, said imposing sanctions on commodities such as diamonds and timber had helped end conflicts in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sanctions could be more effective by coupling them with other measures that together could better limit the scope of conflict or even end it. The “institutional memory” within the United Nations Secretariat and the various groups of experts should be strengthened in order to make greater use of past experience. Despite the positive effect of the Kimberley process on the exploitation of “blood diamonds”, there were new risks, including the increasing number of oil-producing countries with poor populations, especially in Africa, and the fact that water was becoming a scarce resource.

He said that a common understanding of when a natural resource should be considered a so-called “conflict resource” would help in shaping a more coherent approach by the international community, and he suggested that the United Nations Secretariat give some guidance on that issue. As good governance was key to preventing conflicts over sharing revenues derived from natural resources, the European Union promoted transparency and responsible management of resources. The Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program in Liberia had helped keep more money in the State budget. Not only could States contribute to improving the proper governance of natural resources, but producers, traders and consumers were also key actors.

The Union was committed to initiatives aimed at improving revenue transparency, such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, he said. Endorsement of the initiative by the Council and the Assembly would be welcome. The Union had also started integrating support for good governance in the mining sector into some country programmes, including that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The European Union Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade supported improved governance in wood-producing countries. A conflict resource facility would shortly be developed within the new European Union stability instrument, in order to better tackle resources and conflict as a cross-cutting issue.

ANDREAS BAUM ( Switzerland) said the Council had made great progress in refining sanctions to diminish revenue of armed groups in a given conflict. It could strengthen its sanction regimes by endowing its expert and monitoring groups with clear mandates, terms of reference and adequate administrative support. It should establish an institutional memory and generate best practices and lessons learned. Sanctions also had to entail a comprehensive strategy to fight corruption, rebuild institutions, re-establish the rule of law and diversify the economy. When establishing a peace mission, the Council should examine the usefulness of creating an environment and natural resources management unit.

He said the pivotal question of wealth-sharing in peace processes was essential to ending the conflict and to provide the necessary means for post-conflict reconstruction. Political power-sharing without wealth-sharing would lead to a fragile peace agreement that was likely to fail. The Mediation Support Unit within the Department of Political Affairs could play an important role, if provided with the necessary resources and support. Concerned about the risks arising from overexploitation of renewable natural resources, he said water and soil should receive greater attention in the context of conflict prevention. Because consumption patterns in industrialized countries resulted in scarcity and price increases of natural resources, thereby raising the risk of conflict, efforts must be made to reduce global consumption of resources such as oil, gas and water to an equitable and sustainable level.

ALI HACHANI ( Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Security Council was not the only body charged with considering the link between natural resources and conflict. The General Assembly had been considering the causes of conflict in Africa since 1988, and the continent had long been conscious of the importance of natural resources to its development and stability, leading it to adopt the Algiers Convention in 1968, and its revision in 2003. With the creation of the African Union, the number of conflicts had diminished considerably thanks to collective regional efforts, but a large number of countries still remained affected. The Secretary-General had concluded in a 1998 report that illegal exploitation of natural resources appeared to be a direct cause of conflict in some cases, while exacerbating it in others. It was, therefore, difficult to determine whether preventive or peacebuilding activities were needed in specific cases.

He said the fundamental challenge in Africa and elsewhere was to prevent the financing of military operations through the sale of natural resources. The Kimberley process had been introduced to restrict the illegal trade in diamonds. States and regional groups had put much effort into initiatives to restrict illicit trade in other natural resources. As noted by the Secretary-General in a 2006 report, inadequate global economic and financial regulations, high profit margins and weak administrative and technical capacity in a number of African countries made the management of the natural resource sector particularly difficult. As such, there was a need to improve the economic, administrative and customs infrastructure in those countries, which also required follow-up mechanisms in the extraction industries.

PAUL BADJI (Senegal) said there were many examples where the “gifts of nature” - whether water, oil, diamonds or timber - that should have been used to boost socio-economic development and improve livelihoods, had instead ended up as sources of strife. Natural resources must be managed and distributed fairly to ensure State stability and, to that end, non-State actors, multinational corporations and neighbouring and exporting States also had a role to play. That wide range of actors and the complex issues involved called for a global framework chiefly aimed at mediation, a search for common, rather than narrow, interests, and ensuring that resources were not used to finance the actions of belligerents.

To that end, the Council should continue to pursue individual sanctions such as travel bans and the freezing of assets, he said. Perhaps the time had come to look at ways to expand sanctions to multinational corporations, whose motives were not always beyond reproach. In that regard, the efforts of the civil society and private sector driven global campaign “Publish What You Pay”, which pushed corporations to disclose the means by which they acquired and used natural resources, particularly in Africa, deserved praise. The Council and international bodies should consider the fact that natural resources were becoming increasingly scarce and would likely continue to be the source of tension and conflict. The international community must recognize that fact and quickly look for ways to address it.

KHALED ALY ELBAKLY ( Egypt) said the issue of natural resources and conflict required the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council to work transparently together in addressing the myriad complexities involved and in targeting the revenues generated by those resources towards sustainable development, peace and prosperity. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons was intricately linked to the exploitation of natural resources, especially in Africa, where some oil, diamond and timber assets were controlled by States, individuals and arms brokers in a manner that endangered socio-economic development. That led to the spread of diseases, poverty and unemployment, and diminished institutional capacity and the pillars of national economies. Clearly, international efforts to prevent the draining of national riches in exchange for weapons that led to the continuation and escalation of conflicts required special efforts by arms-producing countries to ensure global controls, and commitment to their legal and moral obligations.

He said the General Assembly should continue to develop international arrangements to regulate arms tracing and ensure standardized arms-trading and brokering rules. Natural resources must remain the basis for economic development and for the realization of the aspirations of future generations, not to be exploited by States, individuals and corporation in their quest for greater fortunes. Therefore, the Council would have to depart from the “narrow framework in dealing with this issue” and extend its cooperation with the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council through collective efforts to realize common goals.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), noting that economies that relied on a single natural resource were particularly vulnerable to conflict, especially when conditions in the international market were not favourable to the commodity in question, said his country supported the imposition of embargoes on diamonds and timber from certain countries where those resources were used to finance armed groups. In the case of diamonds, the Kimberley Process allowed the lifting of embargoes once States could guarantee that income from their sale was used for development purposes. However, in the case of other embargoed resources, greater cooperation and coordination was needed among the Security Council, regional organizations and the Peacebuilding Commission to help countries emerging from conflict to the direct earnings from their natural resources towards economic development.

Remarking on the complexity of peacekeeping operations resulting from the increase in the number of integrated missions, he said the Secretary-General's report on strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to administer and support peacekeeping operations proposed the creation of “integrated operational groups”. They would involve officers from different United Nations departments responsible for providing support in all aspects of peacekeeping. Those integrated groups should also include experts on natural resources who would pay special attention to cases where illegal exploitation of natural resources had occurred.

TAKAHIRO SHINYO ( Japan) said that, in order for efforts to prevent resources natural from fuelling conflicts to become more effective, it was essential that all stakeholders, including international organizations, Governments, business and civil society take a serious approach to the problem and study it in a systematic way. It was also important to promote existing initiatives - including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Kimberley Process and the efforts of the International Tropical Timber Organization - while supporting regional efforts to solve the problem.

Regarding Security Council action, he said it must carefully consider transforming its sanctions-driven methods into a development-approach based on the level of commitment of the Government concerned. In Liberia, for example, forestry reform and participation in the Kimberley Process had been promoted through the presentation of clear conditions for the lifting of sanctions. Finally, the Council's various undertakings should be integrated seamlessly into the Peacebuilding Commission's activities. Japan would continue its active participation in creating and supporting an international framework for better use of natural resources.

SAMUEL OUTLULE (Botswana), aligning himself with the African Group, underscored the importance of channelling natural resources into development, in order to prevent them from fuelling conflicts. Peacebuilding efforts should speedily establish effective institutional and internal controls to manage resources for the common good. Botswana could attest that diamonds, which had fuelled much conflict, could be beneficial when controlled by such mechanisms as the Kimberley Process, which enlisted the full compliance of all stakeholders, including exporting and importing countries, non-governmental organizations and relevant industries.

Stressing that his country was also strongly committed to implementing the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, he said the result was a huge and healthy elephant population. That was why Botswana legitimately desired to sell stockpiles of ivory from animals that died naturally. Mechanisms that placed heavy burdens on exporting countries should not be established, as they would set new trade barriers. For the same reason, natural resources must not be demonized. Instead, a wise combination of measures was needed to help Africa use its resources for development and for the benefit of its all its peoples.

HJALMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said that, in too many cases, the international community had seen how the exploitation of natural resources, even fish stocks and high-value commodities, had become a direct or indirect cause of conflicts, as well as the financial means for sustaining them. Access to water was fast becoming a source of conflict, which needed to be urgently addressed and, as fossil fuels became less accessible in the future, the international community must ensure access to alternative energy sources. It was also important to mention a clear future threat to peace and stability, namely unsustainable use of the world's resources and irreversible pollution. Security risks associated with global, regional and local conflicts were increasingly becoming more central in the political agenda. Among other suggestions, he encouraged the Council to ensure that current peace operations paid sufficient attention to responsible and equitable resource management. Iceland also favoured a stronger role for the Peacebuilding Commission in the area of post-conflict utilization of natural resources and the environment.

JOHN MCNEE (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said Council action on the illicit exploitation of resources had thus far focused largely on the role of diamonds. However, other resources should not be forgotten. For example, the trade in timber had been banned during both the Cambodian civil war and the Liberian conflict under the rule of Charles Taylor. It had been recognized that gold and coltan were also important resources to be monitored in relation to peace and security.

The prevention of illicit exploitation must be well coordinated with broader conflict prevention, peacebuilding, resource governance and economic development efforts, he said. Stronger links should be forged within the United Nations system, the international financial system and regional organizations in that regard, as well as between those organizations and the private sector. The imposition and monitoring of targeted sanctions regimes and the integration of natural resource issues into peacekeeping mandates, however, lay squarely within the responsibility of the Security Council, and should be constantly re-examined for effectiveness.

RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the Council's responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security should not be invoked in abstract terms, particularly since the Charter foresaw that issues related to economic and social development, as in the case of natural resources, fell within the purview of the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. Brazil believed that Security Council resolution 1625 (2005) on its role in conflict prevention and resolution 1653 (2006) on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should not be interpreted broadly, as such characterization might undermine the responsibilities of the other United Nations principle organs. Encroachment on areas outside the scope of the Council's purview risked, not only distorting the application of Charter-based principles and purposes, but of reinforcing the tendency to mistrust the Council's intentions.

He remained convinced that the global and complex nature of the use of natural resources demanded that any relevant international debate on the matter take place first in the forum of universal representation - the General Assembly - and then in the Economic and Social Council and its relevant subsidiary bodies, including the Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The linkage between the exploitation of natural resources and conflict should only be examined by the Security Council on a case-by-case basis, and inasmuch as it might be relevant to a particular situation. In such cases, the Council had established specific mechanisms, such as those encompassed in the sanctions committees and the mandates of peacekeeping operation.

NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said conflict prevention through better management of the exploitation of resources was fraught with legal and operational complexities, and the best method to prevent conflict was to comprehensively address inequality and economic deprivation. Creative solutions were also needed for the crisis of expectations and disparities in economic development. Those disparities were, in turn, connected to unfair globalization and demanded a true development round of the Doha trade talks and reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

With regard to resources prolonging conflict, he said it appeared that the international community was arriving at a useful approach through “trial and error”. That approach included a mixture of sanctions to prevent illegal exploitation, and certification schemes, such as the Kimberley Process, which had the merit of involving the entire international community, including civil society, and avoided the pitfall of treating the issue of resource management purely as a matter of peace and security. India urged that any inclusion of the issue in peacekeeping mandates be done only after the widest possible consultations, particularly with troop-contributing countries. The Peacebuilding Commission should be tasked with creating a consensus on the use of natural resources in post-conflict countries.

RACHIDI EKANZA EZOKOLA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that, while “blood diamonds”, of course, might be better known, there was also “blood copper”, “blood gold”, “blood coltan” and “blood cobalt”. There were countless natural resources that could fuel tensions and spark conflict. Those riches ended up being a curse for most people and a blessing for warlords and others bent on exploiting them. To address that serious and challenging situation, it was necessary to generate the collective political will of all stakeholders to help prevent conflict and assist post-conflict countries, particularly in Africa, build better lives. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, for its part, called on the Security Council and the international community to help it use the countries' natural resources to generate and build on the benefits of emerging peace and political stability. All United Nations agencies must work together to help countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo gain control of and sustainably use their natural resources. He urged the Council to consider supporting the creation of global cooperative schemes similar to the Kimberley Process to deal with exploitation of other natural resources.

PATRICK RITTER ( Liechtenstein) said the Council's past actions had been focused mainly on the role of natural resources once a conflict had broken out. Its sanctions had contributed to conflict resolution in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, future discussions would benefit from an enhanced emphasis on prevention and the early identification of situations where natural resources could contribute to the outbreak of a conflict. The United Nations system could establish principles on natural-resource governance, support existing initiatives and ensure that the relevance of natural resources was taken into account in political efforts to prevent conflict.

He said the exploitation of natural resources in post-conflict environments could have a stabilizing effect by generating economic growth and thus alleviating poverty, when combined with good governance. However, it could also become a subject of transnational organized crime and play a part in causing relapse into conflict. It was, therefore, crucial that the Council support international and regional efforts to promote assistance to resource-rich post-conflict countries. A stronger role for the Peacebuilding Commission should be explored in that regard and increased activities by other agencies and programmes, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), promoted.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the Security Council had already expressed its concern over the exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following the Kassem report of 2003, and had not followed up, possibly due to the lack of agreement on meaningful measures within the Council and other United Nations bodies, all of which should be involved in the issue according to their competencies.

He strongly recommended that the Council establish a new task force of experts to study the exploitation of natural resources in conflict situations and consider more extensive measures, such as border controls and wider monitoring. Peacekeeping forces could be involved, but it was vital to address, not only the supply, but also the demand for and financing of illicitly exploited natural resources, most of which was from advanced countries.

National processing of natural resources and control of the accompanying commercial processes could also help to end illegal exploitation of natural resources, he said, adding that the Peacebuilding Commission, the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly could help countries in such endeavours. The international community would very soon need to focus on promoting the equitable exploitation of oil and water, which increasingly were cause of conflict.

JOHAN L. LØVALD ( Norway) said that managing natural resources like diamonds, minerals, oil, natural gas and timber in a fragile State with a poverty stricken population was a difficult task. Weak Governments often fell victim to militant groups and criminal networks bent on exploiting natural resources to boost their power and influence. The battle for control over mineral wealth was a problem that reached far beyond national borders and affected regional stability and international security. “We, the members of the United Nations, have not sufficiently addressed this issue and its implications for peace processes around the world,” he said, adding that the international community must recognize that the battle for natural resources was a key part of peace efforts, which meant that peacekeepers must have clear directives and resources, in order to effectively address the matter. Improved governance was crucial for better management of natural resources. That meant checks and balances, anti-corruption programmes and proper legislation, as well as external financial support and sustained political will by host Governments.

JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU ( Benin) said that natural resources were essential factors for the progress of States. Such resources were also important in forging international relationships, but their illegal exploitation was whittling away at Africa's development. As more and more criminals and criminal networks began to exploit or take control of the continent's resources, African countries were forced to devote fewer resources to other pressing issues, such as curbing the spread of small arms and light weapons, and trafficking in children, as well as promoting sustainable development. The Council had often resorted to the imposition of sanctions, but it was obvious that the success of such measures depended on constant global and local pressure to ensure broad implementation and follow-up. At the same time, the Council should recognize that some groups that exploited natural resources were relatively small collectives of non-State actors or individuals operating outside relevant international legal frameworks.

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