Environmental Peacebuilding in Liberia

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Environmental Studies



Publication Title

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Conflict and Peacebuilding


Natural resources and the environment have emerged as an important part of the peacebuilding agenda. This is no coincidence. As this book highlights, a significant body of research suggests that natural resources can, under certain conditions, stimulate, aggravate or lengthen violent conflicts. For example, high-profile work has argued that renewable resources like water and arable land, made scarce by growing populations and elite "resource capture," trigger instability (Homer-Dixon 1994, 1999). Other work found that a country's dependence on high-value natural resources, such as oil, timber, minerals, oil and diamonds, can undermine economic progress, intensify poverty and foster corruption in ways that increase the odds of armed conflict (de Soysa 2002; Ross 2004). And finally, prominent and often-cited research has argued that rebel groups, and their warlord leaders, loot natural resources to fund rebellion and are motivated to fight for economic reasons related to personal enrichment, rather than any political reasoning (Collier and Hoeffler 2004).
Although the precise causal links between natural resources and armed conflict remain ambiguous and contested, a range of international interventions developed to end and mitigate conflicts perceived to be linked to natural resources, and more specifically, to resource-derived revenue (Le Bilon 212). The future spoils of natural resources have been used by negotiators to broker peace agreements. UN sanctions have been enacted by the Security Council to disrupt and curtail the trade of so-called "conflict resources" to deprive rebel groups of the funds that can fuel war. International mechanisms have also been established to help track and regulate the trading of natural resources believed to finance conflict and beget violence. The most advanced in this regard is the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which was designed in 2003 to regulate the global trade in rough diamonds (Grant 2012).


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