Enhancing EU Resource Governance Interventions: A Call for Prioritizing Human Security

In response to resource-fuelled conflicts in producer countries, EU foreign policy initiatives have sought to enhance ‘good governance’ throughout the value chain for an increasing number of primary commodities. EU-supported reforms of natural resource sectors are centrally informed by the concept of formalisation. Using the cases of diamond sector reform in Sierra Leone and timber sector reform in Liberia, this briefing aims to highlight the shortcomings inherent in formalisation-oriented approaches. We suggest that the notion of human security is better suited to guide EU intervention in natural resource sectors and their evaluation. Formalisation approaches tend to favour activities – and red tape – that have yet to be linked to lasting benefits for producer societies. In contrast, a human security approach promotes policies that focus on tangible results at the local level of society, especially for those most affected by natural resource extraction.