The independent resource on global security

Global Resources and International Conflict: Environmental Factors in Strategic Policy and Action

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-829104-3
280 pp.
This book shows how the geographical distribution, availability, and degradation of the world's natural resources influence the international security perceptions that govern strategic policies and the use of military force. Global deficiencies, coupled with uneven distribution of resources, can lead to unlikely, and therefore unstable, alliances, to national rivalries, and even to war.

The contributors to this study single out for detailed analysis various key resources—oil, natural gas, and other vital minerals, fresh waters, ocean fisheries, and food crops—which are likely to lead to interstate disputes and conflicts. The effect of differential population growth on the actual and perceived availability of resources and on the resultant international behaviour of states is also examined. One of the major challenges in the world today is how to ensure access to global resources in a way that will avoid international conflict. In recognition of this challenge, the study concludes with an expanded, environmentally based concept of international security.


1. Global resources and international conflict: On overview

Arthur H. Westing

2. Oil as a factor in strategic policy and action: Past and present

Alexander A. Arbatov

3. Oil and natural gas as factors in strategic policy and action: A long-term view

Erik Solem and Anthony F. G. Scanlan

4. Minerals as a factor in strategic policy and action

Helge Hveem

5. Fresh waters as a factor in strategic policy and action

Malin Falkenmark

6. Ocean fisheries as a factor in strategic policy and action

Susan B. Peterson and John M. Teal

7. Food crops as a factor in strategic policy and action

Peter Wallensteen

8. Human population as a factor in strategic policy and action

Marcel Leroy

9. An expanded concept of international security

Arthur H. Westing


Appendix 1. Global resources and international conflict

Arthur H. Westing

Appendix 2. Wars and skirmishes involving natural resources: A selection from the twentieth century

Arthur H. Westing

Appendix 3. Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920

Appendix 4. Antarctic Treaty of 1959

Appendix 5. Outer Space Treaty of 1967

Appendix 6. Law of the Sea Convention of 1982

Appendix 7. Moon Agreement of 1979