Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2010

Too Many Resources or Too Few? What Drives International Conflicts?

Georg StrĂ¼ver

October 2010

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


International conflicts over natural resources are frequently cited as the most prominent threat to global peace in the decades ahead. However, this subject has not yet been adequately tackled in the academic literature. This paper contributes to filling the gap by, first, proposing a four-class typology of resource conflicts and by, second, testing these conflict types against data on fossil fuels and interstate conflicts derived from two major conflict datasets: the Militarized Interstate Dispute Dataset (1960-2001) and the UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflicts Dataset (1960-2008). The findings, although preliminary, suggest that resource scarcity may play a less prominent role in the aggression of belligerent countries than is often assumed and that the existence of large oil deposits and high resource-rent incomes are better predictors of conflict involvement.