Over the last two and a half decades, extractive resources — oil, gas, and mining-- have played an important role in more than a dozen intra-state violent conflicts.
Conflicts linked to the extractive industries (EI) are both economic and political in nature. These EI conflicts may centre around control over a specific natural resource and the revenues it generates; or various social groups may use resource revenues as a source of funding for generating or promoting other types of conflicts (i.e. inter-state, intra-state, political, ethnic, religious, etc.). These conflicts may be a manifestation of a larger political struggle between various factions, including provincial and central government authorities. Such conflicts may also include issues or grievances around identity, religion, control of territory, economic asymmetries, and even a separatist agenda.
Considering the transformational potential of extractive industries projects, it is to be expected that almost any extractive project will generate some level of conflict. Conflict per se is not necessarily negative. Conflict, when managed properly, can incentivize a country’s government (central or local), and companies and communities, to be more open and responsive to citizens’ needs; demands for improved wealth sharing and social services; and better environmental safeguards.