n Institute for Security Studies Papers - Besides greed and grievances - natural resource characteristics and conflicts in Africa

Volume 2013, Issue 243
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



This paper addresses the debate on natural resources and conflict from the point that conceptualisations of the linkages between conflicts and natural resources have generally concentrated on the human aspects of the relationship. By so doing, the nature of natural resources and the influence their inherent and locational characteristics have on the roles they play in conflicts are seldom taken into account. Drawing on African conflict experience, the paper adduces evidence to establish an argument that this approach is one-sided for a proper understanding of the issues involved, and maintains that a more holistic understanding and conceptualisation should appreciate the role of natural resource characteristics. It posits that a given resource has a higher chance of fuelling conflict when it has characteristics that require less specialised skills for its exploitation and refinement, has high liquidity, and is easily portable and therefore 'smugglable'.

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