Conflict Resources

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a bit. Just because I like to stir up trouble. 

All the talk about conflict resources like cobalt, diamonds, and tantalum, is making waves in Western media. We’re watching the general public start to make buying decisions based on ethics. Or are we? I mean, even before Apple gained kudos for decreasing their use of conflict minerals, the company still outsold ALL Windows PCs. Combined. 

This raises a few key questions for scholars and the public. 

First, the economics. What do companies gain by avoiding the use of conflict minerals? Is there a price difference that is being transferred to consumers? Can a jewelry store charge more for diamonds that are certified conflict-free? What is the premium on conflict-free purchases? 

Second, the consequences. Conflict-free. Great. What about other ethical qualms, like slavery? Let’s take it to another level, though. by publicizing the existence of conflict resources as goods that exist on the market, are we inadvertently advertising a form of funding to insurgent groups?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of conflict-free goods. But this is one complex ball of wax that does deserve some consideration. 

A few fun resources for further information on media and conflict, and natural resources and conflict: 

Conflict Mineral Disclosures: A mandate of the Dodd-Frank Act Lindberg and Razaki, 2012

Taming the Resource Curse: Implementing the ICGLR Certification Mechanism for Conflict-prone Minerals Blore and Smillie, 2011

Cracking Down on Conflict Minerals, Strickland, 2011

Conflict Minerals Legislation: The SEC’s New Role as Diplomatic and Humanitarian Watchdog, Woody, 2012

Lessons Learned from Addressing Conflict Minerals with a Supply Chain Strategy, Forrer, Mo, & Yeaw, 2012

Is There Blood on Your Hands-Free Device? Veale, 2012

Media Publicity and Insurgent Terrorism: A twenty-year balance sheet, Tan, 1988

The Politics and Coverage of Terrorism: From media images to public consciousness, Wittebols, 1991

Globalised Rebellion: The Darfur insurgents and the world, Jumbert and Lanz, 2013

The Spoils of Nature: Armed civil conflict and rebel access to natural resources, Lujala, 2010

Do Natural Resources Matter for Interstate and Intrastate Armed Conflict? Koubi et al, 2013

Organizing Insurgency: Networks, Resources, and Rebellion in South Asia, Staniland, 2012


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