Skip to main content

Peoples-Based Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources: Toward Functional Distributive Justice?

Abstract

The international law principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources posits that governments bear the sovereign rights to manage natural resources on behalf of citizens. That citizens have rights over natural resources at all however detaches from governance realities showcasing citizen marginalization. This necessitates revisiting the issue of what rights citizens actually have over natural resources. Qualitatively investigating this issue reveals rights of citizens over natural resources now embedded in the doctrine of peoples-based permanent sovereignty over natural resources (PPSNR). However, this doctrine appears to be subject to international law limitations and might not be effective within domestic jurisdictions. Alternatively, PPSNR may be domestically driven by common ownership and environmental justice claims. These two drivers may be able to advance distributive justice rights of citizens to returns from natural resources exploitation within domestic jurisdictions. These rights could be actuated through rent distribution practices. This results in functional distributive justice.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Åhren M, Scheinin M, Henriksen JB (2007) The Nordic Sami convention: international human rights, self-determination and other central provisions. Resource Centre for the Right of Indigenous People, Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino.

  2. Akinbola BR, Onifade TT (2013) Legal and administrative remedies in environmental law in Nigeria: Reform proposition. Afe Babalola Univ. Ado-Ekiti Law J. 1(1): 320–352.

  3. Allingham M (2014) Distributive Justice. Routledge, Newyork.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Armstrong C (2013) Sovereign wealth funds and global justice. Ethics and Int. Aff. 27(04): 413–428.

  5. Armstrong C (2015) Against ‘permanent sovereignty’ over natural resources. Polit., Philos. and Econ. 14(2): 129–151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Banzhaf S (2011) Regulatory impact analyses of environmental justice effects. J. of L. Use and Environ. Law 27(1): 1–30.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Barma NH, Kaiser K, Le TM, Vinuela L (2012) Rent to riches : The political economy of natural resource-led development. The World Bank, Washington.

  8. Bernstein S, Lerner J, Schoar A (2013) The investment strategies of sovereign wealth funds. J. of Econom. Perspect. 27(2): 219–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Boxill B (2014) Compensation and past injustice. In Cohen AI, Wellman CH (eds) Contemporary debates in applied ethics, 2nd edn. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford and Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, pp.191-202.

  10. Bullard RD, Johnson GS (2000) Environmental justice: grassroots activism and its impact on public policy decision making. J. of Soc. Issues 56(3): 555–578.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cambou D, Smis S (2013) Permanent sovereignty over natural resources from a human right perspective: Natural resources exploitation and indigenous peoples’ rights in the artic. Mich. State Int. Law Rev. 22(1): 347–376.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Castellino J, Gilbert J (2003) Self-determination, indigenous peoples and minorities. Macquarie Law J. 3: 155–178.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cilliers P, Biggs HC, Blignaut S, Choles AG, Hofmeyr JS, Jewitt GPW, Roux DJ (2013) Complexity, modeling, and natural resource management. Ecol. and Soc. 18(3): Article 1. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol18/iss3/art1/. Accessed on 16 July 2015.

  14. Coelho M, Filipe J, Ferreira M (2009) Tragedies on natural resources: A commons and anticommons approach. School of Economics and Management of the Technical University of Lisborn, Liborn.

  15. Collier P (2010) The political economy of natural resources. Soc. Res. 77(4): 1105–1132.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Cornell S (2006) Indigenous peoples, poverty and self-determination in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Tucson.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Corntassel J (2012) Cultural restorations in international law: Pathway to indigenous self-determination. Can. J. of Hum. Rights 1(1): 93–125.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Davis GA, Tilton JE (2005) The resources curse. Nat. Resour. Forum 29: 233–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Demkiv A (2012) Political instability in petrostates: The myth or reality of oil revenue as petrostate stabilizer. Dissertation, The State University of New Jersey.

  20. Drache D (2009) Canada’s resource curse: too much of a good thing. Norteam 4(1): 15–53.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Dülger F, Lopcu K, Burgaç A, Ballı E (2013). Is Russia suffering from Dutch Disease? Cointegration with structural break. Resour. Policy 38(4): 605–612.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Duruigbo E (2005) The World Bank, multinational oil corporations, and the resource curse in Africa. Univ. of Pa. J. of Int. Econ. Law 26(1): 1–67.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Frankel JA (2012) The natural resource curse: A survey of diagnoses and some prescriptions. Havard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Paper Series. http://wcfia.harvard.edu/files/wcfia/files/jfrankel_natural_resource_curse.pdf. Accessed 20 December 2014.

  24. Gilbert J (2013) The right to freely dispose of natural resources: Utopia or forgotten right?. Neth.Q. of Hum. Rights 31(2): 314–341.

  25. Griffin Jr. CL (2012) The Alaska permanent fund dividend and membership in the state’s political community. Alsk. Law Rev. 29(1): 79–92.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Hardin G (1968) The tragedy of the commons. Sci. 162(3859): 1243–1248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hartzok, A (2004) Citizen dividends and oil resource rents: A focus on Alaska, Norway and Nigeria. Earth Rights. http://www.earthrights.net/docs/oilrent.html. Accessed 21 July 2015.

  28. Haugen HM (2007) The right to self-determination and natural resources: The case of western Sahara. Law of Environ. and Dev. J. 3(1): 72–81.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Haugen HM (2014) People’s right to self-determination and self-governance over natural resources: Possible and desirable? Nordic J. of Appl. Ethics 8(1): 3–21.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Hildebrand PM (2008) The challenge of sovereign wealth funds. VOX. http://www.voxeu.org/article/challenge-sovereign-wealth-funds. Accessed 21 July 2015.

  31. Ivanova MH, Esty DE (2012) Globalisation and environmental stewardship: A global governance perspective. In: Wijen F et al. (ed) A handbook of globalisation and environmental policy: national government interventions in a global arena, 2nd edn. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp.549-580.

  32. Karl TL (1997) The paradox of plenty: Oil booms and petro-states. University of California Press, Berkeley.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Karl TL (1998) The paradox of plenty: Oil booms and petro-states. The J. of Mod. Afr. Stud. 36(02): 333.

  34. Kelley J (2012) China in Africa: Curing the resource curse with infrastructure and modernisation. Sustain. Dev. Law and Policy 12(3): 35–41, 57–60.

  35. Kennedy E (2014) From Petro-States to ‘new realities’: Perspectives on the geographies of oil. Geogr. Compass 8(4): 262–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Klyuev NN (2014) Natural resources complex of Russia: An unsustainable development trajectory. Reg. Res. of Russia 4(4): 382–389.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Kolstad I, Wiig A (2011). Natural resources, corruption and trust: A complex relationship. U4 Issue 14: 1–21.

  38. Larsen ER (2004) Escaping the resource curse and the Dutch disease? When and why Norway caught up with and forged ahead of its neighbours. Statistics Norway Discussion Papers. http://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp377.pdf. Accessed on 12 October 2014.

  39. Lawson-Remer T, Greenstein J (2012) Beating the resource curse in Africa: A global effort. Africa in Fact. http://www.cfr.org/africa-sub-saharan/beating-resource-curse-africa-global-effort/p28780. Accessed on 16 July 2015.

  40. Libecap GD (2009) The tragedy of the commons: Property rights and markets as solutions to resource and environmental problems. The Aust. J. of Agric. and Resour. Econ. 53: 129–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. McCorquodale R, Pangalangan R (2001) Pushing back the limitations of territorial boundaries. Eur. J. of Int. Law 12(5): 867–888.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Mehlum H, Moene K, Torvik R (2006) Institutions and the resource curse. The Econ. J. 116 (508): 1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Mehlum H., Moene K, Torvik R (2008) Mineral rents and social development in Norway. University of Oslo. https://ideas.repec.org/p/hhs/osloec/2011_014.html. Accessed 29 July 2015.

  44. Miranda LA (2012) The role of international law in intrastate natural resource allocation: Sovereignty, human rights, and peoples-based development. Vanderbilt J. of Transnatl. Law 45: 785–840

    Google Scholar 

  45. Mohai P, Pellow D, Roberts JT (2009) Environmental justice. Ann. Rev of Environ. and Resour. 34: 405–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Otaha JI (2012) Dutch disease and Nigeria oil economy. Afr. Res. Rev. 6(1): 82–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Özden M, Golay C (2010) The rights of peoples to self-determination: And to permanent sovereignty over their natural resources seen from a human rights perspective. Europe Third World Centre, Geneva.

  48. Perez N (2014a) Libertarianism, Rectification and Property Rights: A Reevaluation. The Can. J. of Law and Jurisprud. XXVII(1): 123–143.

  49. Perez N (2014b) Must we provide material redress for past wrongs? In Cohen AI, Wellman CH (eds) Contemporary debates in applied ethics, 2nd edn. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Oxford and Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, pp.203–215.

  50. Persily L (2011) Norway’s different approach to oil and gas development. Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects Office of the Federal Coordinator. http://www.arcticgas.gov/norway%E2%80%99s-different-approach-to-oil-and-gas-development. Accessed on 29 July 2015.

  51. Pogge TW (1994) An egalitarian law of peoples. Philos. and Public Aff. 23(3): 195–224.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Pogge TW (1998) A global resources dividend. In Crocker DA, Linden T (eds) Ethics of consumption: The good life, justice, and global stewardship. Rowman and Littlefield, Pennsylvania, pp 501–526.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Risse, M (2008) Common ownership of the earth as a non-parochial standpoint: A contingent derivation of human rights. Eur. J. of Philos. 17(2): 277–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Robilant A (2011) The virtues of common ownership. Boston Univ. Law Rev. 91: 1359–1347.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Robilant A (2012) Common ownership and equality of autonomy. McGill Law J. 58 (2): 263–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Robinson JA, Torvik R, Verdier T (2006) Political foundations of the resource curse. J of Dev. Econ.79: 447–468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Ross ML (1999) The political economy of the resource curse. World Polit. 51: 297–322.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Ross ML (2001) Does oil hinder democracy. World Polit. 53:325–361.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Rosser A (2006) The political economy of the resource curse: A literature survey. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Sabonis-Helf T (2004) The rise of the post-Soviet petro-States: energy exports and domestic governance in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. In: Burghart D, Sabonis-Helf T (eds) The Tracks of Tamerlane. Institute for National Strategic Studies, Washington DC, pp 159–185.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Schrijver N (1997) Sovereignty over natural resources: Balancing rights and duties. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  62. Segal P (2011) Resource rents, redistribution, and Halving global poverty: The resource dividend. World Dev. 39(4):475–489.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Segal P (2012) How to spend it: Resource wealth and the distribution of resource rents. Energy Policy 51: 340–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Simpson T (1997) Indigenous heritage and self-determination: The cultural and intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples. The Forest Peoples Programme, Moreton-in-Marsh and IWGIA, Copenhagen.

  65. Tarzi SM, Schackow N (2012) Oil and political freedom in third world petro states: Do oil prices and dependence on petroleum exports foster authoritarianism? (2012) J. of Third World Stud. 29(2): 231.

  66. The Editors (2014) Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and global justice: An exchange. Ethics and International Affairs 27(04): Online Exclusive. http://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2014/norways-sovereign-wealth-fund-and-global-justice-an-exchange/. Accessed on 29 July 2015.

  67. The Economist Explains (2014) What Dutch disease is, and why it’s bad. The Econ. http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/11/economist-explains-2. Accessed on 16 July 2015.

  68. Wantchekon L (2002) Why do resource dependent countries have authoritarian governments? J of Afr. Financ. and Econ. Dev. 5(2): 57–77.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Warner M (2001). Complex problems…negotiated solutions: The practical applications of chaos and complexity theory to community-based natural resource management. Overseas Development Institute, London.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  70. Watts M (2010) Resource curse? governmentality, oil and power in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Geopolit. 9(1): 50–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Wenar L (2013) Fighting the resource curse. Glob. Policy 4(3): 298–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Widerquist K (2013) The Alaska model: A citizen’s income in practice. Open Democracy. Retrieved from https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/karl-widerquist/alaska-model-citizens-income-in-practice. Accessed on 29 July 2015.

  73. Zucker R (2000) Democratic distributive justice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The author is grateful to Drs. Gabriela Sabau, Andreas Klinke, Jose Lam, Jackeline Walsh, Stephen Blackwood, Paul Foley, and Barr. Femi Aborisade for commenting on previous drafts of this article. Thanks to the Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Steven D. Roper, and other editors of the journal as well as the three anonymous referees for their helpful comments. Errors are entirely those of the author.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Temitope Tunbi Onifade.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Onifade, T.T. Peoples-Based Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources: Toward Functional Distributive Justice?. Hum Rights Rev 16, 343–368 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12142-015-0375-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Peoples
  • Permanent sovereignty over natural resources
  • Common ownership
  • Environmental justice
  • Distributive justice
  • Resource rent distribution