A proposal to create a specialized UN agency for strategic minerals


An international body specializing in strategic minerals is necessary for overseeing the environmental, economical, and labor issues associated with the commerce of these materials. This agency must act as a central body that addresses each of these important but distinct issues effectively and in a timely manner. We call this agency the Strategic Mineral Association (SMA).


The United Nations' specialized agendas are autonomous organizations that are funded by both voluntary and assessed contributions (United Nations, 2012). There are currently seventeen existing specialized agencies established under the UN, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the World Bank. The SMA will work in a similar manner to these established agencies. Like the existing organizations, the SMA will be structured according to the UN Charter.

These specialized agencies have proven to be extremely effective on the international scale. For example, the efforts of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) have greatly benefited small and developing nations, including Angola, Sierra Leone, and Darfur (U.N., 2012). Indeed, the UN and its agencies, including the World Bank and the UN Development Programme, are dedicated to furthering the development of poorer countries, providing a generous 30 billion USD worth of assistance per year.


The following is a brief outline of the SMA's proposed functions:

  • Ensuring mining safety and the implementation of health regulations for the mining workforce
  • Supporting the application and development of new technologies in the strategic mineral industry
  • Providing loans and subsidies for new corporations to emerge the markets for strategic minerals, thereby encouraging competition
  • Providing loans for the implementation of new technologies that promote sustainable resource management.
  • Monitoring of international supply chains
  • Endorsing developing countries by providing education and free classes on the importance of REEs as a commodity in the world market
  • Providing immediate action for international conflict over strategic minerals
  • Providing transparency of trade, information for member nations
  • Publishing periodicals that educate the public about the growing issue of strategic minerals

Through the establishment of the SMA, the world will be offered access to a plethora of resources, including mining technologies and greater transparency for the trade of strategic minerals. This will work in conjunction with the WTO, which aims first and foremost to maintain a free market.

For more details regarding the implementation of the SMA, please visit the trade regulation, refinement, providing for the safety of miners, awareness of conflict mining pages.

Failure for corporations in member countries to comply with these measures will result in fines and possible termination of a company's operations until issues are addressed. UN sanctions may be taken through the Security Council, as stated in Chapter VII of the UN Charter (United Nations, n.d.). Such actions may include the placing of bans on financial or trade transactions.

Like other UN bodies, the SMA can only make "recommendations." However, influential bodies, especially the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank, can make offers to developing countries which can serve as strong incentives. According to the UN Intellectual History Project, one of the main institutional tactics of addressing non-compliance is "embarrassment," which can be achieved when either UN secretariats or non-governmental organizations generate data about non-compliance (UN Intellectual History Project, 2009). The SMA can depend on this method to convince members to follow rules and regulations.

Implementation Details

The proposed Strategic Minerals Association will be structured around the UN charter, which has been the working frame for its other specialized agencies such as the World Health Organization, a living proof of the charter's success.

It is stated in the United Nations Charter that a specialized agency can be created under one of the UN's five organs to carry out that organ's main agenda (United Nations, 1945). The SMA will be created under the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) . As stipulated under the Chapter IX of the United Nations Charter, the SMA, like all specialized agencies, "established by intergovernmental agreement and having wide international responsibilities, as defined in their basic instruments, in economic, social, cultural, educational, health, and related fields, shall be brought into relationship with the United Nation accordance with the provisions of Article 63." (United Nations, 1945).

Article 63 allows the Economic and Social Council to enter agreements with specialized agencies and defines the terms on which the agency can be brought into relationship with the UN (United Nations, 1945). These agreements are subject to approval by the General Assembly (United Nations, 1945).

The SMA, like other specialized agencies, will not receive any funds from the UN regular budget, but will mainly rely on trust funds and voluntary funding to supplement core funding. This core funding is calculated through assessed contributions based on the UN rating system and based on the countries' national incomes (The Consultative Group of Ministers or High-level Representatives on Broader International Environmental Governance Reform, 2010).

The SMA will invite all members in the United Nations to take part in the agency so that there is a fair representation. Countries without strategic minerals should not be excluded from the decision making process of strategic mineral disputes because this is a global issue that will directly affect people all over the world.

Representatives for mining, resources, and industry for each member nation should be included in body meetings. For countries that lack a designated leader for mining, the a representative for environmental affairs or the comparable position will be invited instead.

These leaders will meet twice yearly. When there are pressing matters that need a quick resolution, such as the 2012 joint complaint that the European Union, United States, and Japan created against China, the SMA will convene within a week's notice to draw up plans on how to address the issue.

The meetings of the SMA will take place in the United Nations Economic and Social Council room found in United Nations headquarters in New York. Sharing space will ultimately help to lower the budget, and there is no harm in doing such since there the SMA is considered an organ of the ECOSOC.

Similarly to the way that the WTO assists developing nations, the SMA will institute programs specifically for developing nations and countries that do not have the infrastructure or economically viable reserves to obtain strategic minerals. They will include education programs on the Earth's geology as well as technical assistance programs that will provide direct support and vital information regarding strategic metals for the public. These courses will be instituted with the intent of encouraging developing nations to integrate into the global market, so as to expand the world's resources and to hopefully provide a stimulus for their economies.


The projected total cost for the setup of the SMA is approximately between 1 billion and 5 billion USD. The estimated budget is based upon similar UN agencies, including the Food and Agricultural Organization, which has a proposed biennial budget (2012-2013) of about 1 billion USD and expected contributions of 1.4 billion USD (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2011), and the World Health Organization, whose proposed 2012-2013 budget was found to be around 4 billion USD (Member States, 2012).

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