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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Natural resources and conflicts




Statement by Hjálmar W. Hannesson

Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

Open Debate in the Security Council

Natural resources and conflicts

25th June 2007.

Mr. President,

At the outset I would like to thank the Belgian Presidency of the Security Council for convening this open debate and giving us the opportunity to participate in the discussion on the complex relationship between natural resources and conflicts. As other speakers have pointed out before me the theme of today´s debate is a cross-cutting issue that includes prevention of conflict and crises management, UN Security Council sanctions, peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding to name a few. We believe that a thematic debate by the Security Council on this issue is indeed timely.

The concept paper prepared by the Belgian Presidency provides an excellent basis for our discussion, underlining the complex link between natural resources and conflict and how effective and responsible management of resources can contribute to post-conflict recovery. In too many cases we have seen how exploitation of natural resources, even fish stocks, and high value commodities has become a direct or indirect cause of conflict, as well as the financial means for maintaining it. Good and transparent governance of natural resources is an essential ingredient in maintaining stability.

In this context, we recognize the impact and value of the Kimberley process on the exploitation of ,,blood diamonds". Access to water is in some parts of the world also increasingly becoming a source of conflicts that we need to address with a more integrated approach. As fossil fuels will become less accessable in the future we need to ensure access to alternate energy.

In a broader context, I would also like to mention clear threats to security and democracy such as poverty, debt and environmental pollution. One of the biggest threats to stability and democracy in the future will be unsustainable use of the world´s resources and irreversible pollution. Iceland participated in and welcomed the timely open debate in the Security Council on 17 April this year on Climate Change and Security, organised by the British Presidency of the Council.

Mr. President,

Peacekeeping operations are one of the most important areas of UN activities with a growing number of operations. We need to ensure that the current UN´s peacekeeping and peacebuilding work places sufficient attention to responsible and effective resource management. The Peacebuilding Commission should also be an effective and flexible instrument in this context. We would favour a stronger role for the Peacebuilding Commission to post-conflict utilization of natural resources and environmental preservation. We need to address how the Security Council and other UN institutions can be better equipped to tackle this issue, but the Council has a key role to play as outlined in resolution 1625 (2005). There is a need to further enhance and promote systematic international cooperation on resource related security, including regional cooperation.

This debate will help to advance greater focus on this increasingly important issue.

Thank you Mr. President



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