The practice of pillage
Since the end of the Cold War, the illegal exploitation of natural resources has become a key source of funding for armed conflicts around the globe.
The trade in looted raw materials (gold, tungsten, coltane, diamonds, precious wood, etc.) has provided warring parties with the financial means to commit atrocities in some of the worst war zones in recent history, including:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- East Timor
- Sierra Leone
The illicit trade in these raw materials depends on commercial actors (traders, companies, refineries) to purchase, transport, and market the illegally acquired resources. The involvement of these corporate actors enables the violence and perpetuation of human rights abuses.
International law condemns looting in the context of an armed conflict and considers pillage a war crime. Nevertheless, looting and the laundering of these illicitly obtained natural resources continue in numerous regions around the world.
Pillage will stop only when the corporate actors involved in this predatory economy are held accountable for their actions.