The role of natural resource management in peace agreements is significantly understudied. This is despite the fact that natural resources often play a significant role in not only the emergence of armed conflict but the continuation of fighting as well.
OEF Research and Secure Fisheries produced a report on how peace can be sustained following civil wars. Building on key findings from fisheries management, this report focuses on the use of cooperative (or co-) management of natural resources in fostering durable settlements after intrastate armed conflicts. Co-management gives local communities some autonomy over how natural resources (including land, forestry, fisheries, and mineral wealth) are cultivated as well as how the wealth from these goods is distributed. There are critical lessons to be learned about how this tool may be used to help sustain peace.
We find that when rebels have a stated concern over how wealth is distributed in society, co-management provisions result in the following.
- Co-management reduces the risk of future fighting when both the government and the rebel group have a vested interest in managing natural resources.
- Co-management provisions allow for longer peace as compared to resource provisions that place authority over natural resources solely at the local level or solely at the national level.
- Co-management provisions should address combatant concerns about natural resources by facilitating greater transparency around the distribution of natural resource wealth and ensuring the equitable balance of authority.