The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) suggests that in the last 60 years, at least 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts have a link to natural resources, and that this link doubles the risk of a conflict relapse in the first five years. Since 1990, at least 18 violent conflicts have been fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources, whether ‘high-value’ resources like timber, diamonds, gold, minerals and oil, or scarce ones like fertile land and water.
Climate change is also seen as a ‘threat multiplier’, exacerbating threats caused by persistent poverty or weak resource management. The Security Council recognized the possible security implications of climate change.
However, only a few peacekeeping missions have been clearly mandated to help the host country better manage its natural resources:
- UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)
- UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
Every 6 November, the UN celebrates the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The UN and the Secretary-General also recognize the need to integrate questions of natural resource allocation, ownership and access into peacebuilding strategies in the immediate aftermath of conflict.