Many resource dependent states have to varying degrees, failed to provide for the welfare of their own populations, could threaten global energy markets, and could pose security risks for the United States and other countries. Many are in Africa, but also Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan), Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Burma, East Timor), and South America (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador) Some have only recently become – or are about to become – significant resource exporters. Many have histories of conflict and poor governance. The recent boom and decline in commodity prices – the largest price shock since the 1970s – will almost certainly cause them special difficulties. The growing role of India and China, as commodity importers and investors, makes the policy landscape even more challenging.
We believe there is much the new administration can learn from both academic research, and recent global initiatives, about how to address the challenge of poorly governed states that are dependent on oil, gas, and mineral exports. Over the last eight years there has been a wealth of new research on the special problems that resource dependence can cause in low-income countries – including violent conflict, authoritarian rule, economic volatility, and disappointing growth. The better we understand the causes of these problems, the more we can learn about how to mitigate them.
There has also been a new set of policy initiatives to address these issues: the Kimberley Process, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the World Bank’s new “EITI plus plus,” Norway’s Oil for Development initiative, and the incipient Resource Charter. NGOs have played an important role in most of these initiatives; key players include Global Witness, the Publish What You Pay campaign, the Revenue Watch Institute, Oxfam America, and an extensive network of civil society organizations in the resource-rich countries themselves.
Some of these initiatives have been remarkably successful. The campaign against ‘blood diamonds,’ through the Kimberley Process, has reduced the trade in illicit diamonds to a fraction of its former level, and may have helped curtail conflicts in Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Many other initiatives are so new they have not been have not been carefully evaluated.
This workshop is designed to bring together people in the academic and policy worlds to identify lessons from this research, and from these policy initiatives, that can inform US policy towards resource-dependent poorly states in the new administration.