Section 19. Resources Diplomacy


1. International resources situation


When great powers contended for supremacy in the past, it was those countries backed by strong military power who controlled natural resources through a resources diplomacy. After World War II, this direct approach to resources abroad was replaced by diplomatic measures supported by economic power, being intertwined with the East-West and the North-South problems under a world system centering on the United Nations' peace-keeping function, A small number of international natural resources-developing companies called majors, which had secured their positions in the field of resources of the world economy since the colonial age of the past, established a monopolistic and powerful system of supplying resources by taking advantage of their abundant capital, technological power and experience gained through many years of operation, However, the situation is undergoing a drastic change.

The developing countries possessing natural resources, in seeking not only political independence but also economic independence, have launched a vigorous offensive against the international majors on the strength of the U.N. resolution on permanent sovereignty over natural resources. Moves of this kind sometimes take the form of joint action through OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and CIPEC (Conseil Intergouvernemental de Pays Exportateurs de Cuvire) or the form of individual action by producing countries, as in the case of a series of nationalizations of international petroleum companies and copper interests. In any event, the system of control of resources by the majors is being disrupted and it is expected to undergo changes gradually. It seems that the control of resources will shift from the present three-way transitional control system of producing countries, majors and consuming countries to a control system of resources chiefly by the producing countries.


2. Resources problems in international organizations


(1) Moves of the Committee on Natural Resources

After World War II, such international organizations as the IMF in the monetary field and GATT in the trade field were established to solve international problems in their respective fields. However, it can be said that sufficient efforts have not been made to establish a system of international cooperation in which both producing countries and consuming countries participate so far as resources problems are concerned. In this context, moves of the Committee on Natural Resources, established in 1970 as a subordinate agency of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, are noteworthy.

After holding meetings in New York and Nairobi, the Committee held its third meeting in New Delhi in February 1973. The fields covered by the Committee are many. Discussions in the Committee tend to take the form of debates on problems such as permanent sovereignty over natural resources and requests for aid from the developed countries for the development of resources and industrialization in the developing countries and the Committee rather has a character similar to that of UNCTAD in that the developed countries often stand on the defensive. However, recently the Committee has begun to show such notable moves as the U.N. Revolving Fund for Natural Resources Exploitation, which will lead to concrete action, and research and survey activities including long-term supply and demand estimates. It is expected to carry out activities in the future as the only agency for consultation on the resources problems.

In addition to the Committee, the United Nations has other agencies that handle the problems of developing resources in the developing countries, such as the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), ECAFE and other regional economic commissions. It is hoped that these agencies will be utilized effectively.

(2) International organizations for specific resources

There are a number of international organizations for specific resources. The International Tin Council, the International Lead and Zinc Study Group and UNCTAD's Committee on Tungsten are organizations made up of producing and consuming countries and are primarily intended to regulate the balance between demand and supply. Besides OPEC and CIPEC, conferences of producing countries including developed countries on sulfur, uranium and other resources, which were organized recently, are organizations designed to regulate supply through discussion among the producing countries.

(3) Activities of OECD

On the other hand, the activities of OECD -an organization of developed countries which consume resources-in the field of energy are taking on greater importance, The OECD's Ministerial Council meeting in May 1972 agreed to study the energy problem of the developed countries from a long-term and overall point of view and decided to undertake studies on this subject from all angles in cooperation with its committee on energy, petroleum, environment, and scientific and technological policy, and the NEA. Its Petroleum Committee has come to play a greater role in the field of policymaking, such as the stockpiling of petroleum, regulation of consumption of petroleum and arrangements to accommodate member countries with petroleum in case of an emergency.


3. New phase of resources diplomacy


There is a complicated interrelationship between the international resources problem and international economic problems, such as trade and investment in resources, international political and diplomatic problems, such as the North-South problem, the East-West problem and the conflict between the Arabs and Israelis, and problems of international law, such as those in the field of the development of resources on the seabed and the ocean floor. It is also closely related to the problem of environmental disruption caused by the development and utilization of resources, which was taken up at the recent U.N. Conference on the 'Human Environment, the utilization of resources left unused, and innovation. How to solve these international resources problems among the countries concerned, by overcoming the clash of interests among them, will become a global problem in the future.


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