Natural-resources can be a major cause of internal strife if mismanaged or shared unfairly. This is especially the case in divided societies where the uneven geographic distribution of natural resources corresponds to ethnic or religious divides.

In an increasing number of countries, natural-resources have become a focus of efforts to end civil wars and establish new national compacts. In this context, the challenge is to balance the tensions that arise between strong local feelings of ownership over «their resources» against the overall importance of natural resources to national development.

In «Negotiating Natural Resources for Peace: Ownership, Control and Wealth-Sharing» Nicholas Haysom and Sean Kane argue that this trend makes it important to broaden knowledge and understanding of governing arrangements for natural-resources, a subject which has not traditionally received extensive treatment in constitutions and peace agreements. According to Mr. Haysom: «Natural-resource bargaining may not be the most glamorous or sexy subject, but if the parties get it wrong it can be fatal to a social compact, constitution or peace treaty.»