UN Security Council Holds Debate on Conflict Prevention and Natural Resources

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, January 2013.

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, together with other senior UN officials, on Wednesday urged different governments to ensure that natural resources fuel development instead of conflict.

"In too many countries, a wealth of resources - such as timber, oil, coal, diamonds and precious metals - fail to translate into equivalent wealth for the people," said Eliasson in his remarks to the UN Security Council's thematic debate on conflict prevention and natural resources, who emphasized "the primary responsibility for preventing conflict and transparently and equitably managing resources lies with governments."

Eliasson stressed that when managed properly, extractive resources do not need to be a "curse" but can instead be the foundation for sustainable development and lasting peace.

"Political leaders are to ensure that extractive industries generate employment and tax revenues which support economic development and the provision of basic services," he said. "And leaders are to be held accountable by national institutions which promote social cohesion and inclusion, based on rule of law and an independent judiciary."

The UN deputy chief noted that while governments play a central role in natural resource management, the private sector, civil society and international organizations are also important in ensuring the equitable, transparent and sustainable exploitation of extractive resources.

According to Eliasson, UN has been working with different governments to prevent conflict related to resources, while working with financial institutions to develop capacity on taxation policies and regulations pertaining to extractive industries to address the impact of inflation and currency fluctuations.

"Ultimately, all parties need to recognize - and act upon - the links between poverty, inequality, conflict and sustainable development," he added.

In his capacity as chairperson of the Africa Progress Panel, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council that conflict related to extractive resources is preventing many African countries from developing their full potential.

While warning that governments must ensure the profits of the high demand for natural resources are invested in development and do not lead to tensions in the region, Annan also underlined the international community's responsibility in creating a safe and transparent environment that encourages cross-border collaboration as well as environmental protection.

At the day-long open debate, the Associate Administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP) Rebecca Grynspan outlined her agency 's efforts to help countries such as Tanzania, Liberia and Sierra Leone establish concrete action plans and best practices to manage their resources.

According to Grynspan, the UNDP is working not just with governments, but also with communities and civil society groups to diffuse tensions and address misunderstandings that could lead to conflict.

Managing Director of the World Bank Caroline Anstey also addressed the Council, and stressed the importance of transparency and collaboration with the private sector.


Originally published on chinadaily.com.

Photo by ECLAC.

More information on the debate on “Conflict Prevention and Natural Resources” can be found on the website of the UN.

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