Natural Resources and Conflict: A guide for Mediation Practitioners

Short Description

Mediation is a valuable, effective tool for resolving natural resources disputes, though it has been underutilized across sectors in the international system. The reasons that mediation is underutilized are because the technical nature of the conflicts requiring the mediator to have expensive expertise which may not be available or fully trusted by one or more of the parties in conflict, or the international system lags behind in identifying opportunities for proactive use of mediation, and the political dimension of natural resource disputes is often overlooked. By examining sector-specific challenges, this guide demonstrates the value and effectiveness of mediation as a tool for resolving disputes around natural resources. The key findings in this guide are:

  • Context is extremely important.
  • Effective mediation requires a clear but nuanced mapping of actors and interests.
  • Equal access to impartial scientific and technical information about the resource in dispute is key.
  • Careful attention is needed to identify the stakeholders that should be engaged in the mediation process.
  • Mediation should aim for collaboration over shared benefits, which can generate the trust needed to tackle other issues.
  • Mediation techniques are available to overcome critical impasses and entrenched positions.
  • Natural resource issues in peace negotiations are frequently addressed to lay the foundation for future reforms, and not necessarily to resolve problems immediately.

Suggested Citation

UN DPA & UNEP (2015). Natural Resources and Conflict: A Guide for Mediation Practitioners. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme, New York: United Nations Department of Political Affairs.