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Conflict

Wars need money. From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Angola to Cambodia, natural resources such as timber, diamonds and minerals have helped fund armies and militias who murder, rape and commit other human rights abuses against civilians.

Global Witness aims to break the links between natural resources and conflict by carrying out in-depth investigations, which we then use to inform and influence international, regional and national policies. Our aim is an international trade system free from natural resource-related conflict and associated environmental and human rights abuses.

Definition of a conflict resource: Conflict resources are natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict contribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law.

We work on countries where conflicts are ongoing, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting has lasted for over 10 years in the mineral-rich east of the country. We also work in countries where the potential for conflict is high, such as Sudan, where an oil revenue sharing agreement is holding together a fragile peace deal. And we work on post-conflict countries, such as Liberia, where efforts are underway to overcome corruption and ensure better management of natural resources after a war that was fuelled by revenue from timber and diamonds.

We encourage governments and institutions to recognise the role natural resources can play in incentivising, exacerbating and prolonging conflict and to put in place international frameworks and standards that help stop and prevent natural resource-fuelled conflict. We want to ensure individuals and companies do not (directly or indirectly) cause conflict, instability or human rights abuses, and to end the militarization of natural resource exploitation.

Our ultimate aim is that countries’ investment in their natural resource sector is equitable, sustainable, transparent and non-corrupt, and brings long-term benefit to the state and the population.

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