Collier and Hoeffler - Resource Rents, Governance and Conflict

Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A., Resource Rents, Governance and Conflict in The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 625-633 (August 2005)

This paper addresses the relationship between natural resource wealth and violent conflict. Specifically, it considers the idea that opportunistic rebellion as a result of lack of economic growth may crowd out ideological rebellion. The authors of the paper proceed from the thesis of Weinstein (2005) that where resources permit, opportunistic rebel leaders crowd out ideological leaders. They explained that a rebellion started out by idealists in the context of valuable natural resources becomes swamped by opportunists as it expands. The eventual outcomes of this situation, they argue, may birth more dangerous outcomes than conflicts ideologically conceived. The authors therefore call for a renewed policy concern over such situations leading to brutal civil wars.

The authors briefly examine whether resource rents matter in this regard and why resource rents tend to be looted. They posit that as a result of the characteristics of many resource-rich low-income societies, harnessing resource wealth is the only technically feasible option for growth and where this is not politically feasible, the conditions in such countries make them prone to conflict.

The authors conclude by noting the need for increased policy initiatives in this area. In this regard, they highlight the Kimberley process, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and smoothing of price shocks.

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