New Training Programme Supports Peacekeeping Operations in Countries where Conflict Over Natural Resources Threatens Peace and Security Wed, Jun 4, 2014

A new training programme to help UN peacekeeping operations restore governance over natural resources has been launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)and the International Institute for Sustainable Development(IISD)

UN peacekeeping missions are increasingly helping governments to protect natural resources

Currently, over 20 per cent of the world's population lives in conflict-affected areas and in many of these places poor governance of natural resources has been a key driver of conflict and instability. Revenue from high value natural resources such as timber, diamonds and other minerals have helped finance armed groups.

"Addressing the risks and opportunities presented by natural resources has become increasingly critical to the success of many UN peacekeeping efforts and does not need to be seen as distinct from the maintenance of peace and security," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.

"This course explores the various measures that peacekeeping missions can take to ensure natural resources contribute to peace rather than finance or fuel further conflict," he added.

Increasingly, UN peacekeeping missions are being mandated to help post-conflict governments reassert state authority over key natural resources, particularly in resource rich areas that have become militarized. This also involves protecting critical infrastructure and stepping up action to stem illicit and illegal exploitation and trade.

In Sierra Leone, where the illegal trade of diamonds previously accounted for US$25-125 million per year in conflict financing, UN peacekeepers worked with local law enforcement to support police patrols in key diamond zones, and in Cambodia they also supported efforts enforce a national ban on the export of raw logs.

While only six peacekeeping missions have had a direct mandate to work on natural resources to date, a quarter of all peacekeeping operations - representing half of the total peacekeeping budget - have been deployed to address conflicts that have clear links to natural resources.

To ensure peacekeeping missions can effectively address the peace and security challenges posed by natural resources and the environment, UNEP, UNITAR and IISD teamed up in 2012 to develop a comprehensive training programme. The first module of the training programme, introducing the links between environment, natural resources, and UN peacekeeping, was released on the International Peace Day in September 2012.

The second module of the training programme focuses on how to restore governance over natural resources and provides guidance on the range of different actions that can be taken by a peacekeeping mission.

"This highly interactive and stimulating module is the result of a successful partnership between UNITAR and UNEP," said Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Acting Head and Executive Director of UNITAR.

"It is unique in that it creates a bridge between the knowledge and skills acquired by UNEP in the area of governance of natural resources and the practitioners on the ground," she added.

By examining the links between natural resources, environmental change, conflict and peace consolidation, this training programme demonstrates how natural resources have been addressed within the UN's peace and security work and outlines the main approaches and tools that can be used to restore natural resource governance in a peacekeeping setting.

It is designed for civilian staff of peacekeeping missions as well as for any international staff working in a conflict-affected country where natural resources are threatening peace and security. Its launch coincides with the 12th anniversary of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, which is being commemorated this year under the theme "UN Peacekeeping: A force for the future."

Notes to Editors:

  • Targeted sanctions by the UN Security Council have been applied in seven countries to curtail conflict financing from natural resources. In addition to this, currently UN sanctions are applied in two cases on those providing support to armed groups or criminal networks through the illicit exploitation of natural resources: concerning diamonds and wildlife in the Central African Republic and gold and wildlife in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The new training module can be accessed here:

  • In 2012, UNEP launched "Greening the Blue Helmets: Environment, Natural Resources and UN Peacekeeping Operations." The opportunities identified in the report form the basis of this training programme. The report can be accessed here:

  • A new community of practice on natural resources, conflict and peacebuilding can be accessed here:

For more information, please contact:

UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on Tel. +254 20 7625022, email:

Cassidy Travis, Communications Advisor, UNEP Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, Tel. +41 22 917 8839, email:

David Jensen, Head, Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding, Tel. +41 22 917 8167, email:

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