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New BICC Database Service
Natural Resource Wealth and Conflict
12 March 2008
On 12 March 2008, BICC presented a new English data base service, the Resource Conflict Monitor (RCM). With the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BICC experts have been able to develop a data base on 90 resource-rich countries, which over the past eleven years gives an insight into the effects of resource governance on the relationship between natural resources and violent conflict. This website can from now on be directly accessed at www.resource-conflict-monitor.org.
?Conflicts are by no means the logical consequence of the existence of natural resources and their use by different parties. Greater efforts are needed to test how a better understanding of the way in which natural resources are governed could contribute to conflict prevention and transformation measures. This is exactly where the BICC Resource Conflict Monitor steps in,? stresses Peter J. Croll, Director of BICC.
The importance of resource governance for the resource-conflict dynamic can be shown with two examples: The export of timber, diamonds and minerals supplies Botswana with the necessary funds for the development of the country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) shows a totally different picture. Here, the wealth of natural resources can indeed be called a curse, as it contributed to the financing of bloody conflicts, while the population suffered from extreme poverty, corruption and the failure of its government.
One look at the Resource Conflict Monitor provides more facts. Charts give a direct overview of conflicts, resource governance and the involvement in international control and protection regimes. We learn about the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): From 1997 to 2005, a highly violent conflict raged across the country (source: Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research) which only abated in 2005 and 2006. Resource governance comprises indicators such as regime type, civil liberties, freedom of assembly and association, workers? rights as well as the compliance with international agreements (source: Freedom House, World Bank, BICC, etc.). The rate here lies between 2 and 3 on a scale of 10 points. The compliance with international regimes is measured with the Resource Regime Compliance Index (RRCI) in an independent curve, which indicates the commitment to twenty international agreements, amongst which are the Convention of the Safety and Health in Mines, the Convention against Child Labor, but also the Kyoto-Protocol on ecological questions and the Kimberley Process for the trade with conflict-free diamonds. The curve moves between 2 and 8 and shows that commitment to international control regimes has apparently received very low priority during the war in the DRC.
In Botswana, there is a totally different picture: no conflict in the past eleven years; resource governance lies at an average of 6.29, and the curve of the Resource Regime Compliance Index lies between 7 and 9.
The Resource Conflict Monitor combines secondary data on natural resources, conflict and resource governance for 90 countries. ?The data base provides an empirical measure of resource governance with the aim to contribute to discussions on new policy options and instruments to improve and support good resource governance in conflict prone developing countries,? BICC expert, Jolien Schure, explains. Based on the evaluation of the comprehensive data, BICC concludes that improving resource governance, including the integration of international control regimes and conventions, should be a key focus of development assistance. Resource governance, good governance and transparency are fostered by the cooperation on the international, regional, national and local level.