Authorization Of Resource Rights Essay

1745 words - 7 pages

The issue of resource rights within a particular territory has been addressed by many political philosophers, among who are Leif Wenar and Cara Nine. Both philosophers try to determine and argue to whom this right over resources justly belongs. Wenar argues that resources within a particular geography belong to people of that territory. However, current global commerce can be characterized as failure of institutions to enforce these property rights. Particularly, it gives rise to brutal authoritarians, who take over country resources and capture revenue from selling these resources in the market (Wenar, p.9). So, according to Wenar ownership rights determine resource rights, and because people of a country own its resources, those people have a just right over the resources. On the other hand, Nine argues that the definition of resource rights as ownership lacks an important aspect, which is the self-government of resources (Nine, p. 233). Nine goes on considering three theories that might justify resource rights. Particularly, the author examines the democratic account, liberal nationalism and the theory of legitimate political authority over resources. According to Nine, fist two theories face serious obstacles in justifying resource rights. However, the last theory, proposed by the author, provides a normative foundation for a collective to have a right over resources.
The aim of the paper is to critically assess the arguments of Leif Wenar and Cara Nine on justifications of resource rights within a given geography, and to provide an objective summary.
To begin with, Wenar claims that a country’s natural resources belong to its people Wenar, p. 10). Next, the author argues that national ownership, a case when a state owns country resources, requires that people of that country should have a full awareness of how resources are managed, and should be able to influence the management (Wenar, p 11). Therefore, according to the author, no one has a right to sell these resources without valid authorization. Further, Wenar argues that currently the legal right to sell country resources is equivalent to the capacity for violence. The author writes: “In current international practice all that is necessary for a group to acquire the legal right to sell off a territory’s resources is the power to inflict violence on the territory’s people (Wenar, p. 12). Therefore, any political unit that is able to establish a coercive control over people in a territory acquires an international recognition of legal authority to sell the resources of the territory. Wenar argues: “The property rights of a people are violated, as any owner’s rights would be, whenever someone gains control of this property through deception, force, or extreme manipulation (Wenar, p. 16). Thus, according to Wenar, citizens of Equatorial Guinea, for example, could not give legal authority to the dictator Obiang to sell the country’s resources. There is no transparency in deals that...

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