Laufende Projekte



Since the late 1950s/early 1960 the thesis of a so-called resource curse (also known as the paradox of plenty) regularly stimulated debates about a conflict-resource-nexus. Generally the term describes the empirical observation that countries with an abundance of natural resources (like fossils and certain minerals) are prone to (violent) conflict, grievances in the extractive industries, less or predatory economic growth, less democracy and limited chances for (sustainable) development than countries with fewer natural resources. In sum, there still is a vivid academic debate about theories and reasons for observed adverse outcomes. Although the resource curse might not be universal or inevitable, most experts believe that wealth of natural resources, the management of natural resource wealth more specific, affect certain types of countries or regions under certain conditions.

Especially when thinking of former war-economies the management of natural resource wealth is increasingly recognized as a risk factor for peacebuilding processes in these post-conflict societies. While the need for security-sensitive natural resource management is slowly gaining the attention of national and international policy makers, measures aiming to foster good governance in natural resource sectors rarely take into account the impacts of natural resource management on the security and well-being of conflict-affected populations. This research project takes a human security perspective on natural resource governance in post-conflict societies. In a comparative study it investigates two cases of resource sectors strongly linked to violent conflict in the West African region: The diamond markets in Sierra Leone and Liberia have been linked by violent conflict and have since undergone comparable changes in governance. Through analysis and systematic comparison of these two cases, the project will determine how resource sector governance transformation impacts human security on the micro-level of communities affected by conflict and resource extraction.

Project Directors Dr. Sascha Werthes, Dr. Nina Engwicht
Project Duration: 09/2017 - 08/2019
Project funded by: German Foundation for Peace Research

Failure of public administration in natural resource sectors is strongly linked to civil conflict and human insecurity. In recent years, acknowledgment of the security-dimension of natural resource management sparked a dramatic increase of reform measures on peacebuilding and development agendas. While the devastating effects of bad natural resource governance on human security are a major motivator for transformative efforts, studies evaluating the success of reform strategies predominantly focus on the administrative macro-level, neglecting their impact on the individual and collective security of populations affected by conflict and resource extraction/destructive exploitation. This research project aims to fill this gap by investigating resource sector reforms through the analytical framework of human security. To this aim, the research project will conduct an in-depth case study of a natural resource sector that is linked to conflict proneness and that has been subject to ambitious reforms: The forest sector in Liberia. Through extensive field research and an exploratory research design, the project aims to shed light on the direct and indirect linkages between resource sector reforms and various dimensions of human security.

Project Directors: Dr. Sascha Werthes, Dr. Nina Engwicht
Project Duration: 02/2018 - 01/2020
Project funded by: Gerda Henkel Foundation

Forests are one of Liberia’s most important resources. In addition to their economic and conservation value, forests are a vital source of food, charcoal and medicines for a large number of people in one of the poorest countries in the world. The history of forest management in Liberia has been rife with unsustainable and unaccountable practices that culminated in the funding of the Liberian civil war through the international trade in tropical timber. This project aims to enhance forest governance in Liberia by supporting communal forest management. Community forestry is a key element of present day forest governance in Liberia. The core idea of community forestry is to empower local communities to manage their forests sustainably and to ensure that they are the primary beneficiaries of the commercial use of their environmental assets. In reality, however, community forestry has been characterized by the consequences of a lack of education, corruption and unequal power relations that prevent communities from effectively protecting and profiting from their natural resources. This project is a collaboration between the Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate and the Liberian grassroots organization Foundation for Communities Initiatives. The project aims to enhance the role of women in forest governance bodies. By providing women with a comprehensive education on community forestry and enabling them to take up concrete positions in the management of their forests, the project aims to make community forestry more transparent, equitable and to broaden the scope of its beneficiaries. In addition, the project will help communities affected by large-scale forestry to develop alternative income opportunities to secure their livelihoods.

Project Directors: Dr. Nina Engwicht
Project Duration: 01/2019 - 12/2019
Project funded by: Gerda Henkel Foundation

Natural resources have been intimately tied with social conflict in Liberia. As they continue to play a central role in Liberia’s post-war economic strategy the question arises how conflicts surrounding the extraction of natural resources can be mitigated. The country’s only national park and its surrounding forest areas represent a micro-cosmos in which the conflicting dynamics of environmental conservation, the protection of local livelihoods and the economic use of natural resource deposits come together. Sapo National Park is among the most unique and most threatened ecosystems worldwide. The 700 square-mile forest is home to numerous protected and endangered species, including the pygmy hippo, forest elephants, the giant pangolin, western chimpanzees, and various rare duikers. International organizations and national agencies have put the need to conserve the park’s outstanding biodiversity high on the policy agenda. At the same time, the forest has traditionally provided a livelihood for local populations relying on its resources for meat, charcoal, medicine as well as subsistence income from chainsaw milling, hunting and mining. Though resource extraction within the park is prohibited, several large-scale concessions within the park’s vicinity increase the pressure on local populations and wildlife.

This project investigates how Liberia struggles to reconcile the need to preserve its protected forest with the needs of local communities relying on forest resources for their survival.

The project is funded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation and is part of the “Uncovering Security – Emerging Threats” programme, run by the two donor organizations and the Stanley Foundation. The programme aims to bring together journalists and academics to collaborate on emerging and underreported security threats.

Project Director at Peace Academy RLP: Dr. Nina Engwicht
Project funded by:

Thomson Reuters Foundation,

Gerda Henkel Foundation