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The Search for Win-Win Solutions to the Natural Resource Issues in the Kachin Conflict

Located in the northern part of Myanmar and sharing borders with China and India, Kachin state is rich in numerous different types of natural resources including gold, rubies, jade and amber. The Kachin Independence Organization and its armed wing have been waging one of the world’s longest-running struggles against the central government. Aside from the political and military issues that are fueling the conflict, natural resource issues are one of the biggest drivers of this conflict.

Profits from the extraction of natural resources are not always distributed fairly to local communities, and sometimes the communities are bypassed altogether. In other cases, the planning and control of some projects does not involve local input, yet the locals are left to deal with the pollution and other negative impacts.

The Myitsone dam project is illustrative of this issue. The construction of this new dam was negotiated between China and the central government, yet nearly 12,000 people from Kachin state would be forced off their land in order to allow for the construction to occur. Additionally, the dam would supply power to China so the locals would not reap any benefits from it.

For the complete article, please see Environmental Peacebuilding.