Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources: An Analysis
Volume IV, Issue I, 2021
The principle of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources (“PSNR”) ensures that a state has ultimate control over its own natural wealth and resources and the development, utilization, and exploitation of such resources shall be subject to the state’s national laws. The development of this principle can be attributed to the newly independent states in the early 1950s who sought to gain control over their resources after decades of exploitation by their colonizers. The first resolution on PSNR was the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 626 (VII) which recognized that countries have the right to freely use and exploit their natural resources for their economic development and progress. The most important instrument on PSNR came in the form of resolution 1803 (XVII) which guaranteed the right of PSNR to states and peoples. In 2007, with the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations (“UN”) also recognized the right of indigenous people over their traditionally owned or occupied land. However, despite these legal instruments, there is still debate on if this right accrues to the people as well. This paper examines the concept, history, and instruments on PSNR and ultimately answers this question in the affirmative.
Keywords: natural resources, sovereignty, permanent sovereignty over natural resources, international law, United Nations, right to development