Global Policy Forum

NGO Proposals on Natural Resources and Conflict


NGOs present at the meeting: Global Policy Forum, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, International Peace Academy, Save the Children Alliance

November 2003

Link to:
NGO Letter on Natural Resources and Conflict to the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change

  1. Definition of "Conflict Resources"

    As a first step in its action, the Council should adopt a definition of conflict resources with clear criteria for determining when resources become conflict resources. Suggested definition: "Conflict resources are resources that have been traded in a way that drives violent armed conflict and threatens national and regional security."

  2. Enforcement

    The Council should strengthen enforcement of existing Council resolutions and other instruments of international law in order to curb the threat to international peace and security caused by links between resource trading, arms trafficking and violent armed conflict.

    The Council should consider using the technical assistance model developed by the CTC to assist member states to develop institutional, legal, and intelligence capacities to implement certification schemes and targeted sanctions.

    The Council should explore opportunities to support on-going initiatives of AU-Nepad (the Peace And Security provisions of NEPAD, the AU Memorandum of Understanding on the CSSDCA).

    The Council should work towards implementing recommendations emerging from the Stockholm Process about commodity, aviation and arms embargos, travel bans, certification regimes, conventions against money-laundering and bribery, trafficking in stolen goods, etc.

    The Council should encourage member states to fulfill their responsibilities in implementing sanctions and other conventions - by ensuring appropriate legislation is in place and by bringing legal action.

    The Council should make special efforts to end the impunity of well-known persons and companies that have been regularly involved in sanctions busting and flagrant cases of natural resource conflict trade. Such impunity undermines the credibility of the Council and of all enforcement efforts.

  3. Recognition of natural resource plunder/pillage as a war crime

    The Council should specifically recognize the pillage and plunder of natural resources during a war as a war crime while recalling member-states to their obligations under the laws of war and international humanitarian law, which prohibit plunder, pillage and spoliation. International law does not specifically recognize the pillage and/or plunder of natural resources during a war as a war crime. The Council should also encourage support for the ICC Chief Prosecutors' investigations into war profiteering and plunder in the DRC.

  4. Crisis prevention

    The Council should see crisis prevention as central to this initiative, not just peacemaking and post-crisis peace-building, to head off future crises that lurk in every resource-rich country or region. A World Bank study has shown that access to natural resources is directly linked to the likelihood of eruption and/or escalation of violent armed conflict. Increased mapping of resources in potential conflict countries and/or regions would be key in developing methods of crisis prevention.

  5. Industry initiatives

    The Council should take steps to promote binding, industry-wide rules in such sectors as oil, timber, and valuable minerals like copper, coltan and uranium. Special attention should be directed at arms trafficking, where arms are traded in direct exchange for resources. Broad accountability measures can be strengthened by such industry-specific initiatives, which can draw on the diamond experience and the Kimberly process.

  6. Transparency and accountability

    The Council should take initiatives to insure broad transparency and accountability generally in the natural resources trade, by all actors, including especially governments and transnational corporations. The Council should consider action to establish international norms, agreements and binding rules in this area. The "publish what you pay" initiative could be strengthened and made binding as part of such a program. The World Bank and the OECD could be usefully involved in this process.

  7. Additional Capacity in the Secretariat
  8. The Council should strengthen its action and institutional memory by establishing a focal point on Natural Resources and Conflict in the Secretariat. The focal point would, inter alia, maintain a unified database of UN Expert Panel documentation, accessible to Sanctions Committees and to members of Experts Panels. It would also maintain a roster of experts for service in future Expert Panels. And it would assist with cooperation and coordination efforts.

  9. Coordination.
  10. The Council should improve coordination among UN bodies and UN system agencies, funds and programs, including coordination with bodies such as ECOSOC, DPKO, OCHA, UNDP, UNEP and UNICEF.

    The work being undertaken by the Informal Working Group on the Political Economy of Armed Conflict, newly established by the UN's Senior Management Group, should also be utilized. Links should be established also with work on the topic that is taking place at the World Bank, the OECD and other inter-governmental agencies. The Secretariat focal point could assist in this process.

    The Council should also consider synergy with regional efforts that can strengthen the Council's work and complement international action by building regional momentum for action, notably through AU-NEPAD in Africa.

  11. Lessons learned, Actions taken, Best practices.

    The Council should compile lessons learned as well as actions it has previously taken, with the help of the Secretariat, NGOs and think tanks, so as to promote best practices. These chould be incorporated into the Council's work by means of an aide memoire.

  12. Standardization, a CTC-type committee

    The Council should promote standardization of applicable legal instruments in all countries, though a Council resolution. A Council working group or committee, ideally a robust CTC-type committee, could be used to promote and monitor compliance.

  13. Informal group of like-minded delegations.

    Advocates of action on Natural Resources and Conflict should form an informal group, including delegations on the Council as well as others who could coordinate action (and financial support) for initiatives in this area. An informal group of like-minded NGOs could work with this group and act as consultants and mobilizers of public opinion as appropriate.

Link to:
NGO Letter on Natural Resources and Conflict to the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change



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