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Title: A critical review of the role of natural resources in the conflict in Darfur and UNEP's response on post-conflict recovery programming, 2007-2013
Author: Bromwich, Brendan Colin
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 2741
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The conflict in Darfur received a high level of public attention in North America and Europe during the 2004‐2010 period in public debates that generated two competing narratives. The first portrayed climate change and population growth as the driver of conflict. The second argued that the government backed ethnic genocide as a counterinsurgency strategy in Darfur. The first reading is frequently presented as a simplistic alternative to a political framing. The second is frequently presented in opposition to the first in an oversimplified way that fails to address the political significance of natural resources and of the impacts of drought at all. This thesis shows how these two narratives have been instrumentalised either to legitimise, or to delegitimise, international policy options towards the government of Sudan. The purpose of the thesis is to re‐examine the question of natural resources in the Darfur conflict and to investigate a case study of the UNEP response on natural resources in light of both the political context and a theoretical understanding of environmental institutions. UNEP constructed a rationale for their response in Darfur that was not explicit in its political positionality or its academic foundations regarding environmental governance and conflict. This study assesses, retrospectively, the political context and UNEP's responses against theories of social institutions and cultural theory. Given that I worked for UNEP during the period considered, 2007‐2013, the study draws on personal observation in addition to the material UNEP has published relating to Darfur. Consequently, scrutiny of my own positionality with respect to the conflict and to political perspectives on environmental governance is provided in detail. The study analyses the Darfur conflict with a new framework of three subdivided levels and shows that the contested nature of Darfur's social, customary and formal institutions is routinely neglected in the political geography literature on Darfur. Conflict represents a traumatic acceleration of Darfur's environment related institutional bricolage and exhibits a complex interplay between solidarities of livelihood (which downplay ethnic divisions) and solidarities of ethnicity (which feature highly in conflict). Trajectories to peace will see a detraumatisation of Darfur's institutional bricolage and a re‐establishment of livelihood‐based solidarities that bridge ethnic divides. UNEP framed its responses in terms of livelihoods and rebuilding relationships. It foregrounded narratives of collaboration and backgrounded narratives of ethnic conflict. In attempting to mitigate insecurity and trauma this strategy offered a somewhat depoliticised articulation of environmental stress, but it did allow exploration of institutional options for the post conflict circumstances. UNEP's Integrated Water Resources Management intervention is critiqued with a cultural theory lens, which revealed an important interaction between hierarchical, rules‐based perspectives and the egalitarian dissatisfaction with new organisational proposals. This outcome shows how, in Darfur, the interaction between conventional and critical institutional perspectives can be reconciled and is indeed an essential dynamic in institutional bricolage. The thesis concludes by identifying recurring weaknesses in the egalitarian critiques both in the Darfur conflict literature and in the water security literature. The egalitarian critiques are important in exposing weaknesses of hierarchical orthodoxies, but exhibit, at times, an alternative reductionism equally as problematic as those that they expose. What manifests as a mild but persistent technophobia in the water security discourse, can be seen reflected in the recurring technical deficiency of the humanitarian programme in Darfur, characterised by failures in conventional hydrology and engineering. The thesis demonstrates that a genuine plurality of perspectives provides a better basis for the analysis of, and response to, the conflicted environmental problems Darfur faces.
Supervisor: Mulligan, Mark ; Allan, John Anthony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available