GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 1 (2011)
From Riches to Rags – the Paradox of Plenty and its Linkage to Violent Conflict
The article addresses the economic phenomenon of the so called Dutch Disease, also known as the Paradox of Plenty, as faced by countries rich in natural resources. Rendering a rough definition of this occurrence, the article continues to dwell on the linkage between violent conflict and illicit resource trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Using the example of coltan, which is a rare metallic ore essential to the power-storing parts of consumer electronic products, the article explores why the DRC has so far failed to benefit from its large deposits in this highly demanded resource. While in the case of illicit diamond trade the establishment of a certificate of origin scheme has already increased awareness for the matter, a similar certification scheme for coltan is not in place yet. The article thus reviews past experiences made with the Kimberly Certification Scheme against blood diamonds, to find whether its regulatory structures could be applied to coltan trade as well. Identifying the role of law and the Security Council within this debate, the author finally argues in favor of a model akin to the scheme for coltan, which obligates participant states to pass implementing legislation while operating on the basis of voluntariness. However the article also concludes that a certification scheme alone will not be sufficient to combat the resource curse and thus offers a brief insight into possible assisting mechanisms.
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