Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 09/2012

Natural resources and conflict: a new security challenge for the European Union

Nicholas Garrett, Anna Piccinni

June 2012

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute


Conflict over natural resources is likely to pose significant threats to European security, and the European Union therefore needs to elaborate a comprehensive strategy to meet and overcome these threats. This strategy should combine existing instruments and approaches more effectively, while also finding new ways to balance the imperatives of access to natural resources, regulation of markets and conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution. Such an approach requires a better understanding of natural resource-related security and conflict challenges, as well as an analysis of how current policies affect these challenges. The strategy should therefore be based on comprehensive research into the connection between natural resources and conflict financing; the shifting nature of state effectiveness in the context of natural resource agreements; the link between resource conflict and climate change; and the impact of conflict over natural resources on the multipolar global economy.