A new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on May 1st, 2012, titled ‘Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations’, disclosed that peacekeeping operations to address conflicts fuelled by natural resources have cost the UN system about $32 billion since the 1940s. Most of the natural resources-related conflicts have also occurred in Africa, where the UN has conducted 13 different missions.
The report is part one of the findings of a two-year analysis on how peacekeeping missions around the world affect, and are affected by natural resources and the broader environment. The report further indicates that while the Security Council has incrementally improved the scope of the mandates given to peacekeeping missions in addressing natural resources, successful implementation continues to be hampered by factors such as a lack of technical and financial capacity for the missions, host-government interference, and the illegal actions of private sector actors and armed groups. The report, however, states that even though only 54% of peace agreements reached between 1989 and 2004 contained provisions on natural resources, all of the major peace agreements concluded between 2005 to 2010 included such provisions. The report add that Peacekeeping operations may need to build new capacities and partnerships to support the implementation of these provisions.
According to UNEP, natural resources can provide opportunities for emergency employment and the establishment of sustainable livelihoods for former combatants. The report divulges that on the average, over half of ex-combatants return to agriculture-based livelihoods. The report also establishes that although examples of good environmental practice have emerged across all of the main sectors of the peacekeeping infrastructure, implementation in the field has been limited because there is no system for monitoring compliance of environmental goals.
Part two of the report examines the role of peacekeeping operations in stabilising countries where conflicts have been financed by natural resources or driven by grievances over their use. It also examines the ways in which missions can capitalize on the peace building potential of natural resources through employment and livelihoods, economic recovery, confidence-building, and reconciliation. UNEP’s analysis was conducted to inform the scope of future peacekeeping mandates and to develop new peacekeeping policies and practices addressing natural resource governance in post-conflict countries.
To read the full report click here.