Distribution of natural resources leading to political conflict
Types of Natural Resources
Drinkable Water :- According to the United Nations, 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water, and 3,900 children die every day from water-borne diseases. As the global population continues to rise—some predict a 40–50 percent increase within the next 50 years—water stress (when the demand for good quality water exceeds the supply) will become even more of a problem in the future
violent conflict over water resources has broken out in countries as diverse as China
(Shandong and Guangdong Provinces 2000), Ethiopia (2006), India (2004), Kenya (2005), and Yemen (1999). In the Darfur region of Sudan, for example, much of the unrest is due to water shortages. The recent discovery of an underground lake the size of Lake Erie may provide the resources to help end the conflict.
Bodies of Water
Bodies of water such as oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers can also be linked to conflict due to their roles in transportation, development, and culture. A population’s dependence on sources of income within bodies of water, such as fisheries and offshore oil fields, can lead to conflict
Jordan River Disputes
In the 1950s and 1960s, the animosity between Israel and its neighbors was heightened by disputes over the headwaters of the Jordan River. Occasionally, the friction led to armed clashes, including Israeli attacks in 1965 and 1966 on Syrian construction sites that were part of a plan to divert water from Jordan River tributaries. These disputes helped create the pretexts and climate for the regional war in 1967.
Oil and Gas
The two primary sources of fuel are oil (petroleum)—a flammable liquid that can be refined into gasoline—and natural gas, a combustible gas used for fuel and lighting. Fuel scarcity, or at least access to fuel, is one of the greatest concerns for developing and developed countries, given their dependence on energy sources. With a greater global rate of industrialization, many countries have invested in and paid particular attention to alternative types of energy such as nuclear, electrical, wind, and solar energy
Minerals are naturally occurring substances obtained usually from the ground. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), “valuable minerals become conflict minerals when their control, exploitation, trade, taxation or protection contributes to, or benefits from, armed conflict.” Conflict minerals have varied commodity values and occur in many geographical locations: for example, diamonds in Western Africa, amber in Russia, and gold in Indonesia.
The Role of Natural Resources in Conflict
Too Little or Too Much?
The neo-Malthusians argue that rapid population growth, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and unequal resource access combine to exacerbate poverty and income inequality in many of the world’s least developed countries. These deprivations are easily translated into grievances, increasing the risks of rebellion and societal conflict.
Other scholars claim that it is resource abundance, rather than scarcity, that is the bigger threat to create conflict. Some countries with abundant natural resources have experienced what has been coined the “resource curse”—corruption, economic stagnation, and violent conflict over access to revenues
Political Instability and Cultural Divides
When resources are either scarce or abundant, political instability makes countries much more vulnerable to conflict. Instability impacts not only the governance structure, but also all other infrastructures that depend on government control and oversight, such as the banking system, national oil-production facilities, highways and ports. Population growth, environmental degradation, and resource inequality can
combine to weaken an already unstable government’s capacity to address the needs of the populace and thus fuel conflicts. And abundance of natural resources can provide the incentive for increased conflict over control of the income-generating sources.
Furthermore, political conflicts that turn violent often result in destruction of the environment and infrastructure that increases the scarcity of resources, which in turn increases the potential for violent conflicts over the scarce resources. Conflicts often damage infrastructure, such as pipelines or oil fields, and decrease productivity of mining, thus furthering the downward spiral in economies affected by conflict. In addition, poor management and oversight resulting from political instability accelerate the economic decline
Maritime Disputes in the South China Sea
The South China Sea is a maritime area marked by conflicting jurisdictional claims by a number of dif erent countries—among them, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, and Japan. Through the of ices of a non-of icial organization, these countries held an informal series of workshops on pollution, regulation of piracy, and other matters of common interest. By identifying these areas of common concern, the workshops—which took place in the mid-1990s—allowed participants to manage potential conflicts in the South China Sea by preventing maritime disputes from developing into full-blown conflicts, while at the same time providing a forum to explore means of establishing better regional relations and multilateral ways of solving problems.