Engine of War: Resources, Greed and the Predatory State

Arvind Ganesan , Alex Vines

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Internal armed conflict in resource-rich countries is a major cause of human rights violations around the world. An influential World Bank thesis states that the availability of portable, high-value resources is an important reason that rebel groups form and civil wars break out, and that to end the abuses one needs to target rebel group financing. The focus is on rebel groups, and the thesis is that greed, rather than grievance alone, impels peoples toward internal armed conflict.

Although examination of the nexus between resources, revenues, and civil war is critically important, the picture as presented in the just-described “greed vs. grievance” theory is distorted by an overemphasis on the impact of resources on rebel group behavior and insufficient attention to how government mismanagement of resources and revenues fuels conflict and human rights abuses. As argued here, if the international community is serious about curbing conflict and related rights abuses in resource-rich countries, it should insist on greater transparency in government revenues and expenditures and more rigorous enforcement of punitive measures against governments that seek to profit from conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Rights Watch World Report 2004
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherHuman Rights Watch
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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