The public health implications of resource wars

Am J Public Health. 2011 Sep;101(9):1615-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300267. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


Competition for resources between or within nations is likely to become an increasingly common cause of armed conflict. Competition for petroleum is especially likely to trigger armed conflict because petroleum is a highly valuable resource whose supply is destined to contract. Wars fought over petroleum and other resources can create public health concerns by causing morbidity and mortality, damaging societal infrastructure, diverting resources, uprooting people, and violating human rights. Public health workers and the organizations with which they are affiliated can help prevent resource wars and minimize their consequences by (1) promoting renewable energy and conservation, (2) documenting the impact of past and potential future resource wars, (3) protecting the human rights of affected noncombatant civilian populations during armed conflict, and (4) developing and advocating for policies that promote peaceful dispute resolution.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Petroleum / supply & distribution*
  • Policy
  • Public Health*
  • Warfare*


  • Petroleum