Critically Examine The Resource Curse Thesis

Published: 2019-10-15 20:23:33
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The resource curse is one of the prominent ideas in current development discourse and policies. The theory states that countries with abundant mineral resources tend to create negative development outcomes such as poor economic performance, high levels of corruption, economic growth collapses, greater political violence and ineffective governance. Hence, natural resources are perceived to be a curse. According to Michael Klare, conflict over valuable materials is prominent in the world. The rise of the conflict is because of the manner in which developed countries are contesting the resource zones. Therefore, the competition for those areas has been singled out as the reason for potential violence. It is also imperative to state that water-based conflict is proof for resource curse (Klare, 2001, p54)

In the case study on Arctic resources, the evidence of mounting conflicts is evidence of the curse theory. For instance, in the recent years, there has been a sudden rush by first world countries to control the world seabeds. The increasing appetite of industrial economies for gas and oil drives the rush for Arctic resources. Moreover, the genesis of conflict is being fuelled by competing for jurisdictional claims by states such as Canada, Norway, Denmark, and Russia. The situation is seeing to possess a potential arm confrontation (Young, 2008, p74). According to Oran Young, such storm of conflict begun with political opportunism, high energy prices, the hidden exigencies of the international law and military muscle flexing (Young, 2008, p74).Besides, as states seek to decrease over-reliance on foreign oil, the Arctic powers is rapidly approaching a diplomatic gridlock, which could lead to military confrontations as more states continue to declare ownership of Arctic resources.

The continual acquisition and control of arctic resource areas because of the over-reliance on energy resources has also become fundamental for international relations compounded with national security. According to the U.S. National Security Council, the security of the American region relies upon securing key oil producing blocks. Such notion has resulted to the U.S. acquiring sea territories to bolster its status as an economic power. Consequently, the geopolitical ideally has also led to the U.S. forming alliances with various states as a way of securing its interests. The move has witnessed a similar spotlight on either acquisition or protection of energy supplying territories by other economic powers such as Japan, China, and the European countries. Whereas the European countries are acquiring the Arctic regions, Russia, on the other hand, is worried about their activities. Michael Klare confirms, Russia has devoted to increasing its military presence in the southern Asia and former Soviet Central Asian nations while Chinese military is shifting focus from its northern border with Russia to Xinjiang area where there is a prospect for oil resources. On the other hand, Japan has boosted its military presence by in the seas by deploying more warships (Klare, 2001, p51).

Water-related violence is also an evidence of resource curse theory. Mostly, the conflict occurs at the national level than at the international stage. It is true that international disputes regarding water do not cause violent conflict but merely interstate tensions (McNeish and Norway, 2010, p3). Such tensions have interfered with developments along the Euphrates, Amu Darya, Mekong, Gange and Nile Rivers. For instance, in 2006, Israel destroyed the irrigation Canals supplying water from River Litani to farmlands in Lebanon. It should be noted that conflict over water from river Jordan was the source of war between Arab states of Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Jordan in 1967 (Gleick, 1993, 51). It led to death and displacement of thousand of peoples. Recently, Egypt has been threatening Ethiopia with military consequences over its construction of a dam on the Blue Nile. Whereas Egypt is persistent with its threats, it should be noted that Egypt is among the states in the Middle East that possess abundant fresh water, yet it is involved in diplomatic tension with Ethiopia over water (Dabelko and Aaron, 2004,p62-63).).

At the local level, the resource curse of water -based conflict can be traced to genocide in Rwanda. The country is dependent on water for irrigating coffee. Also, in the war in Darfur, the militants focused on attacking water supplies was used to displace non-Arab inhabitant. In every case, the resource curse theory reminiscent in how countries mismanage water resources (Dannreuther 2014, p216). They exercise inadequate administration, transparency and overlapping functions. Hence, not only do the water resources become a genesis of conflicts but also we see citizens in such countries wallowing in poverty because of the persistent droughts hence, water scarcity. Examples of such incidents are rampant in african nations. Despite the mass water bodies, the countries are unable to utilize the resource. More than 70% of the African population in Africa cannot access clean water. Also, the continent experienced low food production despite the abundant water resources in the mainland (Dabelko and Aaron, 2004,p63).

It is also imperative to use the resource curse theory to explain the ever-changing Arctic politics since the period of cold war to the current state. The Arctic politics has evolved from the military terms to involve the call for environmental protection. Going by the Arctic politics, it is easy to conclude that the recent call for environmental conservation is just propaganda for the major nations to continue exercising control over Arctic resources. For instance, in 2007, the worlds media reported a Russian marine vessel leading a mission to the North Pole. Later own, Russia laid claim to a vast area of the Arctic basin and planted its flag there. One of the Russian submariners was quoted saying that the whole world would be reminded that, that Russia is the greatest polar and scientific power (Dodds 2014, p1) later, Russian political figures and scientists expressed the desire to expand its Arctic territory beyond the North Pole. Canada then dismissed the intention. However, in the turn of events, Canada went head to claim that the waters were hers. Hence, because of the resource curse, Russias activities to expand its Arctic territory have triggered tension like the one that was experienced during the cold war. Canada and Denmark are now furthering their research on the geological extension of Arctic baselines with a view of delimiting Russias territory while Russia is determinant to prove them wrong.

If Russia proves its case to the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS0), the approving her research will allow coastal states to have a claim to the current 200 nautical miles to exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Also, are 150 nautical miles of rights of the seabed which, is beyond the traditional EEZ power (Dodds, 2014, p2). Therefore, the planting of the flag in the Arctic baseline is an expression of ownership, which is associated with strategic military intrigues driven by a relentless desire to search for oil. However, the scientific chase and territorial jostling for Arctic territories among Russia, U.S.A., Canada and Denmark have brought about a significant amount of military suspicion, which is causing global tension.

The successful governments of the United States have always considered oil from western Africa to be important in sufficing its oil demands. United States energy planners have since laid reserves at strategic points in Atlantic Coastline. Hence, the U.S. has secured the region by enhancing its military presence at the coastal lines under the US European commands (Sam and Doug 2001,p 908). However, the step is an indication of how Africa is considered subordinates even in its territory. Also, despite the potential of the West Africa to export billions of barrels the pipeline to the Atlantic Coastline has passed through areas where there is political instability thus, hindering the countrys economic progress. For example, despite Nigeria producing 2.2 billion barrels, only 15% is consumed locally (Sam and Doug 2001, p 905). The oil resource and its strategic coastline have only been a source of discord in the country because the central government has since controlled of oil production. Corruption has taken roots in the country sine oil companies must bribe the government to get mining permits (Dannreuther 2014, p217)not to mention political violence in Niger Delta. Despite the coasts of West Africa being referred as a frontier for the petroleum industry, Nigeria, and other West African countries have been hit with severe economic instability and high unemployment rate (Sam and Doug 2001, p 906).

On the other hand, due to the nature of mining, there is a fewer female population who find jobs in this industry. For instance, the Arctic baseline expedition is a risky venture that few women can dare participate. The technical aspect of Arctic scientific research has appealed to only a few women who are willing to join. However, most of those who have been employed Arctic sector are often paid lesser wage than their male counterparts. Also, cultural belief can be used to explain such an occurrences (Ross,2012, p97).

A countrys history can be used to explain its current situation colonization determines the type of institution a state inherits (Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson, 2000, p12). According to Acemoglu, there are two types of colonization. That is settlement colonization where colonizers chose to settle in their colonies territories because the environment favored them. On the other hand are the extractive colonies that used to exploit its colonys resources. The two types of colonization do leave behind sets of outcomes. For instance, the exploitative did not put in place strong institutions like the settled colonizers. Hence, the patterns and exploitative behaviors of the colonies were learned and passed to their colonies. For instance, Britain inherited a system that respected democracy and the rule of law (Acemoglu, Johnson, and Robinson, 2000, p12). on the other hand, it should be noted that colonies like Asia, Africa, Latin America existed before they were colonized. Before then, they had their political institutions that were later manipulated by the European colonies to fit their selfish interest.

It is the reason that we do to witness a state with vast water or fewer water experiences conflict, corruption, and poverty. The reason is that resources alone do not guarantee a nation's economic success. If a country inherits as institutions, then cases of corruption, poor management is likely to occur (Sam and Doug 2001, p 909). The leadership may not employ enough resources to distribute water to its citizens, or it may distribute resources to a section of the people while leaving other out thus, a cause for conflict. Hence, resource curse may appear as just an internal factors. A prove that a country can have abundant resources is Israel. Though it is in a desert, Israel has employed irrigation across its lands among the leading exporters of agricultural products. Israel is an evidence of a country that inherited better institutions from its colonizer, the Britain. According to Sam and Doug, it proofs that not all countries that rely on certain resources must witness corruption, political instability, and economic de...


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