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Ongoing wars and conflict resolution, international agreements or lack thereof. Nationhood, secessionist movements, national 'home' government versus internationalist trends and globalisation.

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In Sudan, there is evidence that Russia and China have supplied arms, ammunition and related equipment to the authoritarian government of Sudan which has been in civil war with the non-Arab minorities of the Darfur region since 2003. This is because China has commercial interests in the oil of Sudan, owning a very substantial percentage of Sudan’s total oil production. As a result, Sudan has purchased $100m in arms from China and used these weapons against civilians in Darfur.

A key source of income for ISIS is revenue generated exporting oil from captured oilfields in North Syria. Some of this is sold illegally in Turkey, some of it is sold back to the Syrian government. This is thought to bring in 10s of millions of dollars (see US treasury officials). ISIS also captured Kirkuk, an oil rich city in Iraq.

When coalition troops arrived in Iraq, among their first assaults were to secure the oil field on the Al-Faw peninsula and southern Iraq.

Russian Annexation of Crimea
A possible motive for the annexation of Crimea by Russia was that the associated control of an area of Black Sea more than three times its land area gives it access to oil and gas reserves potentially worth trillions of dollars.

All of this proves the powers that be will support authoritarian rule abroad in favour of oil. This is true also of western powers but to a lesser extent. Also, having oil rich supplies can help fund authoritarian governments and terrorist organisations like ISIS. Saudi Arabia in particular have a very large monopoly on crude oil, and this is thought to affect western foreign policy.

In short, oil poses a severe risk to the environment and the international economy has become over-dependent on a finite resource that also requires GDP expenditure on mining and drilling. This is opposed to renewable energy sources like solar energy which only require cost expenditures on initial construction and maintenance and allow individual households to have an independent source of energy. Besides this, it also seems that international dependency on oil has had a severe impact on the stability of authoritarian governments and foreign policy with regards to eradicating authoritarianism abroad in favour of liberal democratic nations.

In light of the success of democracy and the welfare state in the western world, I think we need to identify the fact that energy resources play a key role in the failure to spread human rights to the developing world. Perhaps more so, even, than other factors such as ethnic and religious division. In the western world, we need to develop energy alternatives in order to ensure an international balance of the powers that be. The UN needs to take more measures in this regard and natural resource governance ought to be one of the main focusses of 21st Century.

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