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International Law, Natural Resources and Post-conflict Peacebuilding: From Rio to Rio+20 and Beyond



Since the end of the Cold War, peacebuilding efforts and international environmental law have developed independently and in very different manners. Experiences in managing natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding in dozens of countries over the past twenty years, however, highlight the critical role that natural resources often play. The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) provides an opportunity to consider the lessons from these experiences and provide a vision for future consolidation of approaches. This article reviews the development of peacebuilding, highlighting the importance of natural resources. It then surveys the status of international law governing post-conflict peacebuilding, including international environmental law. Looking forward, it considers the likely directions of international law in governing post-conflict peacebuilding, concluding with thoughts on how to capitalize on Rio+20 to advance more effective approaches.