History has shown us that resources can become a curse rather than a blessing for many countries. Wars are caused and conflicts are fuelled by illegal exploitation and irresponsible management of resources. This means that the issue of natural resources and conflict is highly relevant to the Security Council, and we welcome the debate today.
Managing natural resources like diamonds, minerals, oil, natural gas, and timber in a fragile state with a poor population is a difficult task. Illicit extraction of resources can be enormously profitable for militant groups and international criminal networks, and weak governments often fall victim to these groups and their ambitions for power and influence.
The battle for control over mineral wealth is a problem that reaches far beyond national borders. It affects regional stability and international security. We, the members of the UN, have not sufficiently addressed this issue and its implications for peace processes around the world.
We must recognise that the battle for natural resources is a key part of our peace efforts. This means that our peacekeepers must have clear directives and resources to respond accordingly. Today, only a few peacekeeping operations on the ground have the robust mandate and capacity necessary to investigate, monitor and arrest those responsible for illicit exploitation of and trafficking in resources. The Council should seek to address this issue as a matter of priority when drafting future mandates.
Improved governance is crucial for better management of natural resources. This means checks and balances, anti-corruption programmes, and proper legislation, as well as external financial support and sustained political will by host governments.
We believe the peace building architecture created by the Commission, the Fund and the Support Office is a particularly relevant tool here, as an important step towards more sustained and coherent international efforts in post-conflict situations.
Governments of resource-rich countries bear the ultimate responsibility for translating those resources into a blessing for their people. But the international community has a responsibility to support fragile states through mediation, peacekeeping, emergency assistance and technical support. We also have a responsibility to ensure that foreign companies extracting natural resources from developing countries comply with international rules and pay attention to the needs of the local population.
We have recently seen the emergence of voluntary tools that could be important safeguards, such as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI aims to defeat the “resource curse” of poverty, corruption and conflict through transparency and accountability. This requires sound governance systems and sufficient capacity to administer and monitor the extractive industries sector.
Norway is host to the international Secretariat for the EITI, and supports the initiative politically as well as financially. We welcome the implementation efforts taking place in more than 20 countries, and call for additional partners to join the initiative.
The Norwegian Oil for Development initiative is another example. This initiative assists developing countries in managing petroleum resources in a way that generates economic growth, increases living standards, and promotes environmental sustainability.
Norway is also part of a group of countries, corporations and NGOs that have initiated another approach that is relevant for our debate here today: The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. These Principles aim to balance the need for safety and respect for human rights in conflict zones and other challenging environments where extractive companies operate.