Legal Remedies for the Resource Curse

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Legal Remedies for the Resource Curse: A Digest of Experience in Using Law to Combat Natural Resource Corruption Download the complete report. 559.14 Kb, PDF Download
September 6, 2005

The Open Society Justice Initiative has released a report assessing the availability of legal remedies for addressing corrupt practices in the natural resource industries. Legal Remedies for the Resource Curse is a digest of practical experience in using law to combat corruption across jurisdictions.

When resource extraction companies can obtain oil, diamonds, gold, coltan, timber, and other natural resources through covert contacts with unaccountable government officials, the losers are the people in the communities where the wealth originates. The power of corrupt governments frequently derives from monopoly access to natural wealth, bolstered by foreign government and industry allies. Local populations suffer the effects of the "resource curse," including the destruction of their immediate environment and the social and economic devastation that follows: arbitrary eviction and dispossession, unlawful arrest or harassment, and neglect of health care, housing, and education.

This report reviews some of the main legal instruments used to date to combat natural resource corruption—as well as new, untested legal remedies that appear promising. Focusing on resource spoliation in Africa, it provides case studies to demonstrate what has and has not worked. The report treats the "home countries" of resource extraction companies separately from the "host countries" where they operate. It looks at both criminal and civil means of redress. Although corruption in transnational resource extraction is generally subject to inadequate legal safeguards, the report identifies opportunities for civil society action.

Legal Remedies for the Resource Curse is available for download. For a hard copy, please send your postal address to


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