Statement by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, at the thematic open debate of the UN Security Council “Conflict Prevention and Natural Resources” New York(19 June 2013)

Mr. President,

We condemn the dastardly attacks on UN compound in Mogadishu and convey our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and the Somali Government.

We thank the Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Jan Eliasson for his concise and clear briefing on a very complex subject. We also thank the Chair of Africa Progress Panel Mr. Kofi Annan, World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey and USG Rebecca Grynspan for their important statements. Africa Progress Panel's Equity in Extractives is a seminal study which should guide our future work.

Mr. President,

We thank you for this Open Debate and particularly your concept paper which clearly highlights the correlation between conflict and natural resources and outlines a practical strategy to mitigate the potential risks.

We agree with you that effective and transparent management of a country’s natural resources can be critical to preventing conflict.

Natural resources, such as oil, gas, minerals, timber are nature’s bounty. In many countries, proceeds of extractive industries have brought economic prosperity and development. But in many other countries, regrettably, natural resources have become economically corrosive. In some instances, national and international elites exploit natural resources; and government officials and mining corporate executives collude to siphon off exorbitant profits that rightfully belong to the people.

It is true that extractive resources are not the only cause of conflict. Poverty, ethnic and religious strife, and bad governance often exacerbate the tensions created by mismanagement of natural resources. High dependency on extractive industries combined with unsettled disputes lead to competition and conflict over resources.

Greater transparency enables citizens to hold governments and corporations to account and ensure that proceeds from extractive industries are used for public good.

Historically, almost all countries have experienced conflicts triggered by natural resources. But today, many resource-rich countries in Africa are convulsed by warfare .

The Council’s Presidential Statement on Conflict in Africa, adopted in April this year, expressed concern at the role played by the illegal exploitation of natural resources in fueling some past and current conflicts. In fact, because of this reason, nature’s bounty has become a cause for suffering in several countries. Elites profit off their land and fight for the spoils; but people remain poor.

The conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, initially triggered by longstanding grievances, were aggravated and prolonged by illegal exploitation of natural resources.

Experts point out that Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo suffer from the lack of capacity to effectively manage their immense natural wealth. Natural resources continue to be illegally exploited for financing militant activities, which reignite conflicts.

Mr. President,

We know that there is no panacea or short cut for addressing the distortions created by the illegal or inefficient exploitation of natural resources. What we need is a coherent strategic approach.

The United Nations is a natural partner of the countries caught in conflict over natural resources.

The Security Council’s embargoes and sanctions, experts' advice, and capacity building exercises undertaken by UN peacekeeping missions and other UN entities have helped to limit the menace. Its eradication is a long haul.

In our view, a strategic approach should include the following elements:

    • First,the Security Council should give attention to natural resources in the situations on its agenda.
    • Second,the Council should take targeted measures against those responsible for violating its embargoes and for illegally exploiting natural resources.
    • Third, more resources should be allocated to peacekeeping and special political missions to assist affected countries in building their institutional and legal capacity.
    • Fourth, regional approaches are essential where there is a cross border dimension of the illicit trade in resources. In this regard, the adoption of the African Mining Vision by the African Union in 2008 is an important step. Reform of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Kimberly Process would help.
    • Fifth, mining companies should be held accountable if they engage in illicit activities. The private sector, while entering into contracts concerning natural resources, should ensure that the land ownership and other rights of local communities are fully respected.
    • Sixth, we should use full potential of the Peace-building Commissions as they assist countries to negotiate transitions from natural-resource conflict; and encourage them to work more closely with international financial institutions to build pressures for transparency.

I thank you Mr. President.