For hundreds of years, wars have been conducted to obtain access to scarce resources such as land, water or minerals. Such conflicts are among the gravest dangers in today’s world, especially given that most of the world’s big powers possess nuclear weapons. They not only threaten the countries possessing key natural resources such as diamonds or oil, and their neighbours. In a globalised economy, all resources are potentially a target for exploitation by actors from afar, be they transnational conglomerates, sovereign wealth funds, or armed gangs.
Given the dwindling resources of our planet (peak oil, climate change…) and the growing consumption due to an increasing population and a rapacious economic system, new resource conflicts are likely to appear on a much larger scale. The danger is that states will boost their military spending to prepare for eventual clashes with rivals. It is therefore urgent to develop diplomatic and legal structures through which such conflicts can be mediated without bloodshed.