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International law, the paradox of plenty and the making of resource-driven conflict

Cusato, Eliana (2020) 'International law, the paradox of plenty and the making of resource-driven conflict.' Leiden Journal of International Law, 33 (3). pp. 649-666. ISSN 0922-1565

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Access to and distribution of natural resources have been since immemorable time at the root of violent conflict. Over the last few decades, international institutions, legal scholars and civil society started to pay attention to the dangerous liaison between resource commodities and wars. Current debates emphasize how, through sanctions, global regulatory initiatives, and legal accountability, the governance of natural resources in conflict and post-conflict countries has improved, although international law should play a greater role to support the transition to a durable peace. The aim of this article is to illuminate the biases and limitations of dominant accounts by exploring the influence of the resource curse thesis, and its hidden propositions, upon legal developments. Using the Sierra Leonean and Liberian Truth Commissions as a case study, it shows how legal practices and discourses have contributed to a narrow understanding of resource-driven wars as started by voracious rebel groups or caused by weak/authoritarian/corrupt governments. What is obscured by the current focus on greed and ineffective resource governance? What responsibilities and forms of violence are displaced? Engaging with these questions allows us to see the dynamics through which structural injustices and distributive concerns are marginalized in existing responses to these conflicts, how the status quo is perpetuated, and the more subtle ways in which external interventions in the political economy of the Global South take place.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: good governance; international law; natural resource exploitation; truth commissions; war
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2020 17:26
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:14

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