Natural Resources

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On the Role of Natural Resources

Academic Articles

  • Collier and Höffler (1998), their first article based on quantitative research about the role of natural resources in civil wars.
  • Collier and Höffler (2004), an interesting article which pushed the debate about greed vs. grievance further
  • Collier et al. (2009), the authors deviate from their former approaches and postulate the so-called “feasibility” hypothesis
  • Fearon (2005), the article counters findings from Collier and Höffler (2004) and highlights another important theoretical approach, namely the so-called “weak-states” hypothesis
  • Gleditsch (1998), a very important article to understand the pitfalls in research about natural resources. The author highlights cases of spurious correlation, reversed causality, etc.
  • Humphreys (2005), the author provides a good overview of many different possible causal mechanisms related to the influence of natural resources on the probability of civil war outbreak and civil war duration. He finds corroborating evidence for some hypotheses like the “sparse network” approach
  • Lujala et al. (2005), a crucial article to understand if the type of diamonds (primary vs. secondary, i.e. kimberlite vs. alluvial) has an independent effect on civil war outbreak and duration
  • Lujala (2010), important questions about the role of localization of natural resources are addressed. For instance, onshore and offshore production sites of oil seem to have a different impact on the risk of civil wars
  • Ross (2004), test of various hypotheses on thirteen selected case studies
  • Ross (2004), a summary of the state of the art about the role of natural resources in civil wars until 2004
  • Ross (2005), an introduction to the concept of “booty futures” to finance insurgencies by prospective natural resource trade with the involvement of international companies
  • Ross (2006), an indispensable study to understand the concepts of “lootabiltiy“, “obstructability” and “legality” with regard to natural resources and civil war
  • Smith (2004), this analysis investigates if boom and bust cycles in oil production seem to have an impact on the risk of civil wars
  • Snyder and Bhavnani (2005), a further analysis which includes the notion of lootable vs. non-lootable resources and enhances it by introducing the “mode of extraction” conceptualization
  • Weinstein (2005), an interesting account to understand how natural resources can have an impact on the group cohesion of insurgents


  • A documentary about the role of gold extraction in environmental degradation in Ghana. It also covers how illegal mining might be fostered through international actors. (Source: Al Jazeera)
  • A documentary about illegal timber logging in Sierra Leone. It might give a hint how logging was conducted and used during the civil war in the 90s. (Source: Al Jazeera)
  • A documentary about ruby mining in Afghanistan and how Taliban can profit from locals who engage in this extraction process. (Source: Al Jazeera)
  • A documentary about emerald mining in Afghanistan and how difficult it is to sell those on international markets. (Source: Al Jazeera)
  • A documentary about drug trafficking in Afghanistan and how Taliban profit from the trade. (Source: Al Jazeera)

International Initiatives

Other literature (e.g. NGOs, NPOs, etc.)

  • Renner (2oo2), striking analysis about the reality of natural resource trade in the world provided by Worldwatch. Especially interesting seem to be how transnational networks allow for natural resource and arms trade
  • Smillie (2002), in-depth analysis of the role of diamonds in conflicts, in particular in Sierra Leone. Among other things, the readers receives a picture about the Kimberley Process