Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States
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Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States

Edited by Graham K. Brown and Arnim Langer

The Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States brings together contributions from a multidisciplinary group of internationally renowned scholars on such important issues as the causes of violent conflicts and state fragility, the challenges of conflict resolution and mediation, and the obstacles to post-conflict reconstruction and durable peace-building.
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Chapter 8: Conflict, natural resources and development

Mohammad Zulfan Tadjoeddin


The study of the link between natural resources and conflict results from the fact that many countries with an abundance of natural resource endowments have experienced violent internal conflict, in which severe civil war occurs, although this is not the case for all resource-abundance countries. For example, ‘conflict diamond’ has become a well-known terminology referring to a diamond mined in a (civil) war zone and internationally sold to finance an insurgency, as in Sierra Leone, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); while in contrast, diamond abundance in Botswana does not lead to any civil war. Oil in countries such as Nigeria and Sudan fuelled secessionist civil wars, while oil in Norway and Malaysia does not. Such variations in terms of the presence of natural resource endowments and the presence/absence of civil conflict have led to investigation (systematic large-sample or in-depth case studies) of why the presence of natural resources might create a context for, be an underlying cause of, or act as a trigger for conflict. However such a discourse has to be placed within the previously established literature on the natural resource curse hypothesis that draws links between natural resource dependence/abundance, on one hand, and bad macroeconomic outcomes, on the other. This chapter discusses the link between natural resources and conflict within the broader context of socioeconomic development. It starts from the well-known resource curse hypothesis relating natural resource abundance and growth failure. Then it proceeds with the discussion on the possible relationship between natural resource and conflict, by which the hypothesized resource curse mechanism is embedded in it. The process has also been popularly viewed from the framework of greed and grievance (and their inter-linkage) complemented by the breakdown of social contract as ultimately an enabling environment for conflict to take place.

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