Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Natural resource management can no longer be ignored

Photo: Mangroves Cut in Hera, Timor-Leste/ Martine Perret

States, intergovernmental organizations and other partners need to step up efforts to better integrate natural resource management into post-conflict reintegration programmes, according to a recent UN report.

The report, "The Role of Natural Resources in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration – Addressing Risks and Seizing Opportunities",  stresses that natural resources – which, in many conflict-affected countries, can be used to fuel and finance armed groups – can also play a major role in bringing about sustainable peace.

 The report further suggests that incorporating natural resources into plans for reintegration and recovery can also help to mitigate potential conflicts, such as disputes over land or water.

The report also emphasizes that natural resources, such as minerals, oil, gas and timber, need to be properly managed in order to achieve these goals.

It notes that, despite the opportunities that they present, plans for the fair management and distribution of natural resources are usually excluded from peace negotiations and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes, which have become an integral part of the UN’s post-conflict peace consolidation over the last 20 years.

For example, in northern Uganda – where land is central to one’s economic security – lack of land access remains one of the main barriers to the reintegration of former combatants.

 “When helping former fighters and their communities to start new lives after a conflict, it is often critical to help them turn existing natural resources into economic opportunities”, said Jordan Ryan, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

“However, natural resources need to be managed properly as part of a well thought-out peace process”, he stressed. “For example, access to land needs to be taken into consideration, especially for vulnerable groups, such as women, who play a particularly important role as they are primarily responsible for providing food, water and other basic resources for households.”

The report encourages UN Member States and the international community to focus on reducing the risks posed by natural resources for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters, while offering increased opportunities for sustainable livelihoods for communities as a whole.

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