Friday, July 30, 2010

Sovereignty over Natural Resources

Introduction

Every nation is bestowed with natural resources available in land, subsoil and water. Exploration and utilisation of these resources have been engaging the attention of the concerned countries and international commodities alike. The emergence of newly independent nation specially after the Second World War, which inaugurated the process of decolonisation, made these countries realise the value of the natural resources which were subject to foreign exploitation during the colonial era.

The concept of permanent sovereignty over natural resources gained prominence during early 1950s when colonial rule started receding. The newly independent nations realised the necessity of reappraising and altering uneven legal arrangements in the shape of concession inherited from the colonial period. During the spell of colonial rule, the foreign powers especially the Multinational Corporations (MNCs) were exploiting the natural resources of the colonies.

Usually the status of permanent sovereignty over natural resources is discernible in laws and regulations governing the ownership and use of land, subsoil and water resources. Principles with regard to the ownership of natural resources vary from country to country. Some countries follow the rule that ownership of lands and waters falling within the boundaries of the national territory is vested originally in the nation itself and any private property has its basis in the right of the nation to transmit title to its resources to private persons. In other countries, all un-alienated land or land which is regarded as vacant or unoccupied is considered as public property.

Natural resources available in the subsoil are treated in some countries as the property of the owner of the surface land under which they can be found. In other countries, the state assumes into itself the ownership of either all subsoil resources or of certain kinds of resource. In countries where ownership of subsoil resources is vested in the state it may either allow their development by private individuals under licences, leases or other concessions or retain for itself the exclusive right to develop some or all such resources.

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