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1. Introduction

1.1 Commonalities and directions for future researeh


Lim Teck Ghee and Mark J. Valencia

THE papers presented in this volume form part of the output of a larger programme of the United Nations University on 'Peace and Global Transformation'. That programme seeks to understand in a comprehensive way the underlying causes of conflict and tension as well as the diverse forms of struggle for peace. The director of the UNU's programme on 'Peace and Global Transformation' has argued that 'the control and use of natural resources lies at the heart of the deepening crisis in the world today', a crisis he describes as 'dividing the world into extremes of affluence and deprivation with concentration of poverty and seareity and unemployment and deprivation in one vast sector of mankind and of overabundance and overproduction and overconsumption in another and much smaller section of the same species' (Kothari, 1979: 6). If this is so, it is important to understand how the two-natural resources and the contemporary crisis-are connected, and to arrive eventually at alternatives that can offer a way out of this crisis. The researehers engaged in the programme are trying to relate the issue of peace to the wide range of conflicts and various manifestations of violence at a number of different levels-local, national, and international. Thus conflict over natural resources has been selected as the focus of the South-East Asian and Pacific component of the 'Peace and Global Trans-formation' programme.

There are several reasons why this topic is timely and important. First, while disputes over the control and use of natural resources have been linked to tension and violence in all parts of the world, the South-East Asian and Pacific regions are richly endowed with natural resources that are in demand in international trade and that have been the cause of many different types of conflict. It was the two regions' natural wealth that initially attracted the European powers during the period of colonial expansion and seareh for sources of raw materials in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. lust as industrialization changed the equilibrium between humankind and resources in the West, colonialism weakened indigenous cultures in South-East Asia and the Pacific, and introduced new approaches towards the environment and natural resources. The local cultures had fostered the development of life-styles that, in their essence, did not encourage competition for material gain or multiplication of possessions for their own sake, but stressed instead the aesthetic, cultural, and spiritual aspects of life. Wealth obtained was redistributed and the resources of the land were generally freely accessible to the people, whose needs were simple.

Industrialized societies, on the other hand, emphasized material needs, the maximization of production limited only by the ingenuity of science and technology, and the acquisition of material wealth for its own sake. They drew their social stratification from the unequal acquisition of material wealth. The transformation of natural resources into commodities for generating profits, and hence the control of access to natural resources, became a cornerstone of the capitalist economies that emerged in Europe. This system was transferred to states in Asia, the Pacific, and other parts of the world penetrated by colonialism. The result was a new round of conflict over the control and use of natural resources, quite different in scope and intensity from that which had existed prior to colonialism.

While competition over the sources of supply of spices, minerals, and other raw materials became the driving force of colonialism and imperialism at the regional and international levels, social classes and ethnic groups were pitted against each other for control of land, water, minerals, and other natural resources at the local level. The attainment of independence by countries in South - East Asia and the Pacific did not diminish in any substantial way the national and international conflict over natural resources. On the contrary, the burgeoning development programmes directed by the Westernized elites of the new states, and the increasing demands of the industrialized world, have imposed a new drain on natural resources, resulting in a more complicated pattern of competition among diverse groups, both local and foreign.

In the foreseeable future, the trend in South-East Asia and the Pacific is towards increased conflict over natural resources, especially those that are becoming searee. Resources engendering conflict at the international level include extractive resources that have strategic or military value, such as metals, minerals, and fuels. Some of the countries in the two regions are among the world's foremost producers of tin, bauxite, nickel, natural gas, and petroleum. These resources are already deeply embedded in regional and international political rivalry, and conflict over them appears likely to intensify. At the same time, these and resources that are non-strategic but are of economic importance in the world's markets-for example, the products of plantation agriculture such as rubber, coconut, and palm-oil are increasingly the focus of disputes over access to markets and price rivalries that are contributing to further economic tension and rivalry between states.

At the local level, conflict over natural resources among competing groups of users, including tribal communities, peasants, fishermen, miners, loggers, and corporations, has not only continued unabated but threatens to worsen in the coming years. This conflict is an immediate result of the dramatic increase in population and the corresponding increase in use of natural resources, the polarization of rival claimants, and the failure of many governments and authorities in the region to mediate effectively. This pessimistic assessment of likely future conflict over natural resources and the fact that events associated with the exploitation of natural resources in the two regions move so quickly make more discussion and researeh on the subject imperative. Baseline data are required to assist efforts to understand and reduce these conflicts.

Another reason for focusing on the subject of conflict over natural resources is that, in many countries in the two regions, there is a growing sense of resource nationalism and concern for the terms of resource development that are negotiated between states. From the perspective of a growing number of South-East Asian and Pacific states, the South-North trade in resources and North-South trade in manufactured products has a colonial character that is disadvantageous to the South. Resources, especially extractive minerals, are being mined or produced in large capital intensive operations with little employment effects in the producing countries and shipped to the developed countries of the West and Japan for processing and manufacturing. If the resources are returned at all, they are in the form of expensive manufactured products, trapping the former colonies in a continuing exploitative relationship that can be broken only by drastic changes in the terms of resource development.

Meanwhile, a parallel environmental controversy is emerging over whether the two regions economics should continue to be the suppliers of renewable and non-renewable resources to the developed countries. Many local environmentalists have criticized the environmental degradation and resource depletion of past development strategies and warn of an impending environmental crisis, should the natural wealth of their parts of the world be exposed to further indiscriminate exploitation. Apart from their impact on people and governments, the environmental consequences of the new phase of exploitation are likely to be severe, and could include widespread acid rain, depletion of stratospheric ozone, climatic deterioration due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, loss of tropical forests, pollution of estuaries and coastal waters, decreased supply of fresh water, species extinction, loss of valuable genetic resources, genetic defects from toxic chemicals, and spreading malnutrition and pestilence. The level of debate between the 'exploitation' and 'conservation' schools of national development as well as of that taking place between the proponents of an assertive rather than conciliatory resource nationalism can be improved by the documentation and analysis provided by this volume.

Peace is elusive and cannot be imposed or guaranteed militarily. The complexity of the subject of peace implies that fresh concepts and innovative methods are necessary to supplement the knowledge and insights provided by conventional researeh into conflict, i.e. through disarmament and military studies and international relations. This analysis of conflict through a focus on natural resources uncovers the linkages between resources and the role of the state in facilitating or preventing access to them, and the implications that the conflict over resources holds for human rights and cultural survival in the two regions. At the same time, the exploration of these and other more general linkages, such as the role of science and technology in the organization of resource extraction, distribution and utilization, and the impact of the world economic crisis on resource use, is a step towards a more holistic and integrated analysis of the root causes of conflict.

The studies contained in the volume are the results of researeh carried out at three different levels-regional, national, and local. Chapter 2 in the volume focuses on land-based resources in the ASEAN countries of the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Eduardo Tadem's study identifies some of the major conflicts over forests, agriculture, and minerals that have taken place in the region and examines the consequences. A major assumption of the study is that the conflicts are not accidents brought about by simple greed or survival instincts, but rather are the logical conclusions of historical and economic developments set into motion by social forces. Among these forces are multinational corporations and state or bureaucratic corporations on the one side, and the victims of resource exploitation-tribal communities, peasants, and workerson the other.

The second study, by Yoko Kitazawa on the Asahan aluminium project in Indonesia, provides an analysis of the strategies employed by Japan over the past twenty years to ensure its access to natural resources. She points out how, in response to criticism of Japan from Asian countries and the emerging international consensus in favour of a new economic order, Japanese enterprises launched an attempt to delineate a Japanese version of the new international division of labour. This strategy aimed at relocating some Japanese industrial sectors abroad, where utility rates and labour costs were low and where local sources of raw materials were plentiful. However, as she argues, the industrialization of the host has simply meant the creation of offshore production facilities for Japanese capital which neither the government nor the people in the country will ever own or control. Moreover, the host country is made to suffer the consequences of damage to the environment caused by pollution-intensive Japanese activities there. The study not only offers a prime example of the new Japanese role in the exploitation of natural resources in South-East Asia but also provides insights into the way in which elite political and economic interests in Japan and Indonesia converge to protect and enhance their own well-being at the expense of others.

The final three studies shift the reader's attention from land-based to marine-based resources. Marine resources, including fish, seabed minerals, and petroleum within the 200-nautical mile (nmi) exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Asian and Pacific countries, are a resource frontier with possibilities for improving the life of the masses. However, they have instead been and continue to be the focus of conflict, especially international conflict. This is the subject matter of two macro studies dealing with South-East Asia and the Pacific. Mark J. Valencia's study takes, as its reference point, the extended jurisdiction by coastal nations over the 200- EEZs in the South-East Asian region which has left almost no marine area unclaimed and many areas where claims overlap. In this situation, the superimposition of national policies on transnational resources has created possibilities for international competition and conflict as well as opportunities for co-operation and community betterment. The study focuses on competition for petroleum resources, fish, the environment, and ocean space itself in the form of sea lanes, from the viewpoint of the coastal states involved as well as that of the great powers-the United States and the Soviet Union-that have a longstanding interest in the military and economic development of the. region.

There exists considerable documentation of the ways in which policy-makers in Asia and the Pacific are facing up to the politically sensitive and complex issues emanating from foreign exploitation of national natural resources, especially regarding the increasing sophistication of developing countries in negotiating the terms and conditions of oil and gas resource development. This, however, is often due not to any liberal government attitude or policy towards the release of information on national issues of importance but to a desire to mobilize local public opinion against foreign interests so as to enhance the local support base of ruling elites. Less easy to document because the political advantages of information release are considerably smaller, if not negative, is the manner in which policymakers have tried to deal with claims to natural resources by competing local groups within the nation itself. Lim Teck Ghee's contribution adopts a historical approach to the study of the exploitation of fisheries resources in Peninsular Malaysia and the ensuing conflict between various interest groups, including smallseale fishermen whose economic livelihoods as well as ways of life are dependent on the well-being of their natural resource base. Placing the role of government and various government policies towards the fisheries sector under close scrutiny, Lim shows how a succession of misguided or narrowly opportunistic government policies over a period of thirty years have, in fact, created the conditions for the existing crisis in the Malaysian fisheries industry. He also shows the importance of understanding the role of socio-economic and institutional forces (often operating over a prolonged time period) in determining the severity of what is sometimes misrepresented as a purely or wholly bio-ecological problem in the depletion or deterioration of natural resources.

Finally, James Anthony's study on the Pacific returns the reader to consideration of the involvement of outside powers in the present and future exploitation of Pacific marine resources, and assesses separately the consequences and ensuing dilemmas for small island states that do not have the strength-military, political, economic, or scientific-to contend with the outsiders, especially by themselves. A collective approach by the islanders to the management of marine resources would seem to hold the most promise in ensuring that the resources are used in the best interests of the majority of the islanders. But as the study points out, there is much actual and potential conflict within and between island states over questions such as disputed ocean boundaries, rates and terms of resource exploitation, and the allocation of responsibility for the protection of the environment.

1.1 Commonalities and directions for future researeh

What the local and national case studies stress in common is that the state has not always managed its natural resource endowment in the best interests of its people. Indeed, the state often jeopardizes or is juxtaposed against those interests by serving as a facilitator for resource exploitation by foreign and domestic elites. This volume begins to document the emergence of a state system that is predatoryeither directly through the proliferation of state institutions (the bureaucracy, military, state 'capitalist' agencies) which control access to natural resources or extract resources for the benefit of a small class-or indirectly through the aegis of a dominant foreign role in resource extraction in return for illicit payments to select national politicians and civil servants.

However, much more work is needed in this area. Much of the machinations of the state vis- -vis natural resources (and other important aspects of economic activity) remains shrouded in secrecy. Researeh that examines closely the role of the state in managing or mismanaging natural resources, the neutrality or otherwise of state mechanisms established to resolve conflict over natural resources, and the impact of state development programmes on natural resources is necessary to monitor that the involvement of the state in the field of natural resources is in the interests of the majority of the people.

The studies also show that when conflict over natural resources occurs, it has its greatest and most immediate impact on small fishermen, tribal people, and peasants who draw their physical and cultural sustenance directly from these resources. Indeed, these groups often, in all too rapid succession, lose their livelihood, are physically displaced, and become, in effect, 'deculturalized'. This is especially true of aboriginal peoples who have been the hardest hit in the conflict over natural resources, and are, in addition, often dominated and colonized by the major ethnic group, as in Timor, Kalimantan, and Malaysia.

What has not been explicitly indicated by the studies is that a turning point is often reached in the wake of conflict over natural resources when there is growth of the state's armed forces and the relegation of civilian officials (even corrupt and inefficient ones) to a subordinate role vis-...-vis military officials. Military involvement takes two, not necessarily exclusive, forms. One is to act as the state agent of suppression against those sectors of the population which resist government programmes on the utilization of resources. Secondly, once entrenched in a particular area of conflict, the military often becomes legally or illegally involved in economic activities. In this second instance, its physical presence sometimes becomes a mere cover for its business activities in the affected locality.

Of course, increased militarization occurs because government policies and programmes often run counter to the interests of the very people they are presumed to benefit. Mass resistance to forced dislocation without adequate provision for the economic and social well-being of the displaced is an understandable response of communities. Such resistance is usually initially peaceful and legal, such as village meetings, refusal to vacate houses and land, petitions, delegations to the capital, and rallies and demonstrations. If government representatives or agents of the private concern are unable to convince the people to move, the next step is to bring in the armed forces. The presence of the military and the inevitable occurrences of abuse against the civilian population often compel the people to take violent countermeasures. The process is repeated in a seemingly never-ending cycle, since more often than not, resource-based development projects of the state or private corporations are undertaken without consultation with the people resident in the area affected, and the main beneficiaries generally are an outside elite group. This hypothesis cries out for examination and documentation.

Natural resource exploitation in Asia and the Pacific is now entering a new phase of conflict with new actors and new mechanisms rising to the fore. In addition to renewed attention from the wellentrenched former colonial powers-the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands-business and commercial interests from natural resource-poor Newly Industrializing Countries (NlCs) like Korea and Taiwan are now entering the fray. The most prominent resource exploiter in the region-Japan- is, with the co-operation of many of the region's governments, taking advantage of cheaper costs by transferring resource- (and pollution-) intensive industries to South-East Asian countries. In this connection, the changing economic relationship betweenJapan and the United States is an important factor. Driven by its high yen and protectionist tendencies in the United States, Japanese interests are likely to intensify their efforts to move some of their key export industries to South-East Asia.

On the other hand, foreign (mainly Western) ownership and control of some major land- and mineral-rich companies operating in the region, such as Harrisons & Crosfield, Sime Darby, Guthrie, East Asiatic, and London Tin, is passing to Third World governments. But national control of these giants does not necessarily mean equitable distribution of benefits. Indeed, if the transfer of ownership and control is only from a group of foreign shareholders to a local elite, it will merely further pit the state against its own people. Finally, new marine resources, such as strategic straits, petroleum, and fish, have come under national control, although the local interests have not been clearly identified.

Thus, the next generation of resource exploitation in South- East Asia and the Pacific might also see the rise of the NlCs to preeminence as natural resource exploiters; the environmental 'cannibalism' of some countries as the holders of state power continue to reject ecodevelopment and pursue growth without equity and sustainability; the solidarity of the great powers in insistence on resource access to fish or sea lanes; and a breakdown of North-South divisions as Northern resource-extracting multinational corporations become ever more entwined with ruling elites from the South. This pattern of exploitation may intensify conflict between rich and poor, within and between countries and extend offshore into the new resource frontier-the oceans.

Whether South-East Asian and Pacific states will, in the future, become more sensitive to natural resource exploitation and its effect on the have-nots will depend on the growth of collective pressure and a collective conscience transcending narrow economic interests in each of the states. It will also demand imaginative approaches by concerned scholars, public-interest groups, and a vigilant mass media to define public rights and to dilute the notion of private property rights that have facilitated the inequitable exploitation of resources.

Among these new approaches could be the extension of the original common-heritage concept-that the resources in a particular area belong to all and should be used for the common good-to resource exploitation, management, and conservation on a national, subregional, or regional basis. The application of this idea to marine-based resources-that is, that all marine resources beyond national jurisdiction be administered by an international organization for the benefit of all mankind but particularly the peoples of developing countries-has already received widespread support from Third World nations, including those in South-East Asia. It would not be inconsistent to apply the same concept to natural resources at the local or national level by using the revenue from such newly gained resources to redress socio-economic inequities within the nation.

Another concept that may be directly applicable is compensation to those segments of society displaced, marginalized, or otherwise injured by developments adversely affecting their environment or natural resources. Thus, when a combination of industrial pollution, habitat destruction, and overly efficient foreign and domestic trawling deprives small fishermen of their livelihood, they could be compensated from the profits of the industries, land developers, and trawler fishermen. There is also a critical need to explore means to empower the poor to avoid and resist such deprivation. Such compensation should include education as to the causes and consequences of their dilemma and help in making the necessary adjustments.

For example, because of changes that follow 'development' of marine resources, it is clear that not all fishermen who want to continue fishing can make a living from Direct compensation to displaced fishermen may not be as drastic or as costly as a total ban on trawling, such as in Indonesia, or as strict and costly regulations and enforcement against industrial effluents and for coastal land use. Similarly, developers of coastal land for tourism could directly compensate displaced villagers with acceptable new land and a long-term percentage of the profits from the tourism development.

In the First World, schemes to compensate victims of onshore impact of offshore oil development are now commonplace and such suggestions would not be new to multinational corporations operating in the regions. Indeed, several companies have funded indigenously staffed environmental baseline surveys in the regions with the motive that, in the event of environmental damage caused by their operations, there will be evidence for a limit to their liability. Nowhere might this compensatory approach be more necessary and direct but also controversial as in the case of possible tolls for use of straits and sea lanes, particularly by oil-tankers and carriers of other potential pollutants. These tolls could be used to enhance safe navigation in the seas and to directly compensate coastal peoples for chronic pollution of their fishing grounds and shorelines.

The foregoing are preliminary suggestions on how to mediate in some instances of conflict over natural resources. Obviously, the wiser recourse is to prevent these conflicts from taking place through the implementation of prudent policies. However, when they do occur, there is a need to determine who might have to pay how much to whom and how. Not only should amounts and processes be researehed, but the institutions and mechanisms for implementing more progressive management of natural resources at national and international levels should also be closely examined. In the field of ocean space, for example, studies could focus on the costs to coastal people of pollution, coastal land development, and overfishing in particular areas of South-East Asia and the Pacific, delineating feasible fees for users, compensatory amounts for those affected, and possible systems for efficient and equitable allocation of revenues among coastal groups. In this and other fields of natural resources, studies would be needed to identify which conflicts are important and what data are needed to quantitatively assess them, and suggest management options for equitable and sustainable development of the regions' natural resources. Also needed is exploration of realistic options implementing ecodevelopment, which, when pursued by the First and Third Worlds, would alleviate the unequal relationship of resource utilization and reduce the potential for conflict.. Pressure has to be brought to bear at the national and international levels for changes that would lead towards a life-style and economic system which conserves the environment, protects human health, produces durable and recyclable products and provides for the welfare of the masses of the people. Both developed and developing countries alike are beginning to grasp that responsibility for conservation and development and for a better balance between people and natural resources is very much a shared responsibility. Hopefully this new consciousness will lead to action that can bring about the sustainable and equitable development that alone can guarantee peace and thus the future of humankind.


Kothari, Rajni, 'The North-South Issue', Mazingira, No. 10, 1979.
UNU Focus, United Nations Information Services, No. 8, November 1985.

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