Energy and Conflict Prevention

Policy Report | October 02, 2007

This publication, released with the Anna Lindh Programme on Conflict Prevention, reflects major discussions and recommendations about energy and conflict prevention from the EU, Norway, Russia, and the Asia Pacific region.

Among the major issues addressed in the book and the presentation were:

  • Energy security is a core part of national sovereignty for many states.
  • There is a need to depoliticize and to de-securitize energy.
  • All actors concerned—whether energy-exporting or energy-importing—are interested in a stable and predictable energy markets and physical continuity of energy flows.
  • All parties concerned should work on resolving the overall general sense of insecurity and correct the misperceptions about the real intentions of the major global energy actors.
  • Transit and importing countries consider energy as an issue of strategic importance. For example, not only Turkey wants to be a major West Asia’s energy hub, Ankara also sees itself as a rising global energy player. Similar to Turkey, India does not hide its ambitions to become South Asia’s top energy actor.
  • Closer cooperation between different international and regional energy regimes is essential. The United Nations can play a more significant role in fostering trust and cooperation in this matter.
  • In Europe, the trend towards a common energy policy lies in intense consultations between member states. National governments and not EU institutions should have a decisive influence on the development of EU’s common energy vision.

The Lindh Programme book was able to delve in more depth into some specific threats to the global energy security. Among the most pressing issues are:

  • Internal unrest/instability in the energy-producing and the transit countries—especially Iraq and Iran;
  • Intra-state tensions on the global scale and the energy-producing and transit regions;
  • Terrorist attacks against energy installations, pipelines and maritime energy routes;
  • Political and diplomatic mistrust between energy exporters, energy importers, and transit countries;
  • Real and perceived scarcity of the hydrocarbon resources;
  • Rarity of new large-scale discoveries;
  • Territorial disputes;
  • Use of energy as a political tool;
  • Selection of the transport corridors and conflicts between importers, exporters and transit countries.

To address these very real threats to global energy security, governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society should work together to mitigate existing threats and prevent the emergence of new challenges. These actors should use multilateral frameworks, preferably under UN auspices, with a number of binding rules, and take into account the interests of all stakeholders involved. This universal framework should also integrate all positive results achieved by existing global and regional energy institutions such as the Energy Charter Treaty, the International Energy Agency, and the International Energy Forum.

Among the next steps that concerned energy stakeholders should undertake include:

  • Diversifying energy systems on the global, national, and regional levels;
  • Developing and implementing advanced energy saving and energy efficiency measures;
  • Build up of emergency fuel stocks;
  • Promotion of R&D activities to spread efficient and environment-friendly technological options;
  • Development of traditional and new domestic energy sources;
  • Strengthen multilateral energy cooperation;
  • Promote an institute of ‘energy diplomats’ on the global and regional levels.

EWI will continue to undertake research and develop recommendations on the pressing issue of global energy security through its work in energy and conflict prevention, including planned work in 2008 on integrating Iran in binding regional frameworks through energy cooperation.