In the early 2000s in Senegal, 75 percent of animal protein consumed comes from marine fisheries. Yet Russian, European, and Asian firms are increasingly overfishing in the country’s territory and threatening the sustainability of marine stocks as well as the livelihoods and food security of local Senegalese. Some of this fishing is illegal. More troublingly, some has been enabled by improper political influence and possible bribery and corruption. Addressing fishery crime then is not just a matter of maritime enforcement, but will also require political reforms that strengthen democratic governance and transparency.
Surging demand for ivory and rhino horn, mainly in Asia, has put wild African elephants and rhinoceroses on the path to extinction. More than an environmental tragedy, however, wildlife poaching and trafficking has exacerbated other security threats and led to the co-option of certain African security units. African states need to develop a broad range of law enforcement capabilities to tackle what is effectively a transnational organized crime challenge. Asian and other international partners, meanwhile, must take action to reduce runaway demand for wildlife products.
Recent oil and gas discoveries from Ethiopia to Mozambique will likely generate billions of dollars in new revenues for East Africa’s governments. However, numerous red flags have emerged as Uganda steadily progresses toward production. The government has yet to enact sufficient regulatory frameworks, the president wields a heavy hand over the oil sector, and signs of corruption are clear. Working with investors, East African governments will need to avoid such missteps to ensure that new revenues do not become a source of political instability.
Resource-rich African countries experience comparatively higher levels of illicit financial flows, which often weaken the state through substantial losses of revenues. The concentration of authority over the extractive sector, poorly negotiated contracts, and weakly regulated integration into the global economy that are common in Africa facilitate these illicit flows. New international initiatives intended to improve transparency and recover assets and revenues are filling these gaps, but more work to strengthen African tax and revenue governance can further minimize the destabilizing effects of illicit financial flows.
The Chad-Cameroon pipeline was a novel World Bank-sponsored consortium intended to generate a revenue windfall and ensure it was spent responsibly. In September 2008 the World Bank ended its role after Chad diverted oil revenues. Rather than breaking the “resource curse,” the pipeline is now cited as another cautionary example of how improper resource management subverts development and stability.
Migration, extractive industry investments, and disputes over land tenure have for decades complicated dynamics within Tuareg communities and their relations with governments in the Sahel. As this region undergoes immense changes and many Tuaregs once again move across borders, conflicts are reemerging. Initiatives that integrate Tuareg concerns over land and livelihood opportunities through inclusive political engagement will be necessary to address these recurring regional conflict drivers.
The seemingly paradoxical outcome of resource-rich countries being development-poor is, in fact, quite predictable given that autocratic governments often rule resource-rich states. Addressing the resource curse requires changing the incentives facing political leaders so that they are rewarded for transparency and confront robust international legal penalties when they do not.
U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have laid bare deficiencies in U.S. policies and capacities for fostering development and stabilization in conflict-affected contexts. This has led to greater integration of U.S. military and civilian efforts to overcome these challenges. While progress has been made, significant imbalances between development and security assistance remain.
Security Topics: Natural Resources and Conflict