What to read and where? – Unravelling the power dynamics underlying resource conflicts

Climate & Natural resources06 Nov 2013Annemarie van de Vijsel, Saskia Hollander

This dossier on ‘Power dynamics and natural resources’ contains five case-study articles and a synthesis summary on the power dynamics underlying both ‘open’ and ‘hidden’ conflicts over natural resources. The dossier also comprises a debate with the aim to identify clear policy recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in the field.

The starting point for the ‘Power dynamics and natural resources’ dossier is that resource-related disputes do not occur in isolation, but are interconnected with the global trade system and often coincide other structural socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic inequalities. These disputes arise because actors’ interests in natural resources are incompatible. Specific interests, mainly short-term national economic interests and export-led development, are often given primacy at the expense of long-term structural economic development, local wellbeing, protecting human rights, and environmental concerns. Moreover, when they arise, resource-related disputes are often portrayed in non-political terms that mask underlying power imbalances and specific national and global economic choices.

This dossier aims to unravel the power dynamics that underlie resource-related disputes and determine which interests prevail and what discourse is adopted. It has been produced in cooperation with the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research – WOTRO Science for Development (NWO-WOTRO) programme Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries (CoCooN). The CoCooN research teams have provided five articles focusing on specific case studies of resource-related disputes and their underlying power dynamics.

The articles

In ‘The tragedy of the deprived’, The Broker summarizes the main findings of the five case studies and reflects on the overall tendencies.

The five case-study articles are:

The debate

Together with the case studies, we have launched a debate on the topic, which you can find in the centre column of the dossier page. We call on our readers to further examine the main question addressed by the dossier: What are the power dynamics underlying disputes over natural resources and how can the escalation of potential conflicts be prevented? The debate, however, specifically aims to go beyond analyzing the complexities surrounding resource-related conflict resolution. By involving stakeholders in conflict-prone countries we aim to identify ‘windows of opportunity’ for change in the context of the global political economy. What can be done (globally, nationally and locally) to eradicate the root causes of natural resource conflicts? Contributions can focus on particular cases or specific conflict-prone regions, or be more general in approach.

You can send your contribution to our debate to:

We hope you enjoy reading our ‘Power Dynamics and Natural Resources’ dossier.