UNEP’s 2009 report From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The role of natural resources and the environment identified a major gap in UN peacekeeping operational planning with regard to environment-conflict linkages. Since 1990, at least 18 violent conflicts have been fuelled by the exploitation of natural re- sources. In situations where environmental issues have the potential to re-ignite conflict or finance rebel groups, DPKO operations should begin to consider how natural resource ex- traction and management can be monitored to support peace and stabilization.
UNEP’s recent report Protecting the Environment during Armed Conflict: An Inventory and Analysis of International Law recommended that the United Nations define “conflict resources”*, articulate triggers for sanctions and monitor their enforcement. It subsequently advised that the mandate of peacekeeping operations for monitoring the illegal exploi- tation and trade of natural resources fuelling conflict as well as for protecting sensitive areas covered by international en- vironmental conventions, should be reviewed and expanded as necessary (on the model of MONUC mandates from UN Security Council Resolutions 1856 and 1906).
In Resolutions 1856 of December 2008 and 1906 of December 2009, the UN Security Council mandated the United Nations Mission in DRC (MONUC) to “use its monitoring and inspec- tion capacities to curtail the provision of support to illegal armed groups derived from illicit trade in natural resources.”
In 2009, UNEP entered into a technical cooperation with DPKO/DFS. One of the objectives of this collaboration is to examine DPKO’s options for improving its operational plan- ning to address natural resource risks using its existing re- sources, in particular within the Integrated Mission Planning Process (IMPP). UNEP together with UNDP will also assess how the use of natural resources could support Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration processes and create jobs and livelihood opportunities.
* UNEP recommends that the United Nations adopt the definition of “conflict resources” suggested by Global Witness: “Natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict con- tribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious viola- tions of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law, or violations amounting to crimes under international law.”
high number of booby traps and mines in the DRC, only a very small portion of these may affect gorillas, but those placed on ridges typically can do so, or those near outskirts of fields if raiding gorillas are common. Snares are also sometimes set deliberately for gorillas, or more often gorillas are caught in snares set for other wildlife.
The primary impact of the conflict on gorillas and other wild- life, however, is not from direct contacts with them, or from repurcussions as described in the box, but through the exploi- tation of natural resources and disruption of law enforcement in the region, as well as the creation of huge refugee camps in need of fuel. Armed militias, and even regular soldiers, are used deliberately as escort for trucks transporting minerals, timber or charcoal across the land Some of these are originat- ing from protected areas, and transported across borders with armed escort. Even in instances where border guards are not bribed, their security is seriously jeopardized if they attempt to stop the transport.
The killing of gorillas for bushmeat, instances of killing gorillas as revenge for confiscation of illegal charcoal or law enforce- ment, or the destruction of gorilla habitat as a result of log- ging, charcoal, agricultural expansion or mining are among the primary causes of habitat loss, and eventually, the decline in eastern gorilla populations.
War and instability also affects conservation resources deriving from tourism. When the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) moved into Akagera National Park in October 1990, it resulted in an immediate drop in tourism and revenues, particularly in the Virungas, which they partially occupied in 1991. The rugged for- ested borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Repub- lic of the Congo (DRC) were used as a hide-out and for smug- gling up until after the Rwandan genocide in 1994 (Kalpers 2001; Rubasha 2008). Then, some two million people – many linked directly or indirectly to the genocide – fled to Tanzania and especially to the DRC, mainly settling around the Virunga National Park, but some in South Kivu. By early 1995, around at least 720, 000 refugees were living in five camps (Katale, Ka- hindo, Kibumba, Mugunga and Lac Vert) in the DRC bordering the park. At least 80,000 refugees moved into the park daily to collect firewood, and resulted in a deforestation rate of 0.1 km2 per day, along with that of an emerging charcoal business, which the CNDP took over when they took control of the park