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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Role of UN in Sovereignty over Natural Resources

Friday, July 30, 2010 - 0 Comments

By the late 1950s, the Third World Countries had fully realized the significance of exercising permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources and started adopting a well concerted approach to safeguard their interests. They realized that though they had gained political independence the imperialist powers were still exploiting them and treating their raw materials and natural resources as appendages of the imperialist powers resulting in backwardness of their economies. Therefore they decided to press for the recognition of their sovereignty over their natural resources on account of this feeling of their Third World countries on 21 December 1952 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution asserting “the right of peoples to sue and exploit their natural wealth and resources is inherent in their sovereignty.” The UN Covenant on Human Rights adopted in 1955 also incorporated this right in Article 1 which provided. “The peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligation arising out of international economic co-operation based up to the principle of mutual benefit and international law. In no case may a people by deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

The developing countries made full use of the UN mechanism in their struggle. In view of the growing pressure from the developing countries on 12 December 1958 the UN General Assembly adopted resolution No. 1314 which recommended the setting up of a commission to examine the status of permanent sovereignty of states over their natural wealth and resources. In pursuance of the above resolution in December 1958 the UN General Assembly established a Commission on Permanent Sovereignty over natural wealth and resources ‘to conduct a full survey of the permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources as a basic constituent of the right of self-determination’. Two years later in December 1960 the UN General Assembly further recommended that the ‘sovereign right of every state to dispose of its wealth and natural resources be respected’. In 1962 the General Assembly on the recommendations of the Commission on Permanent Sovereignty adopted resolution 1803 (XVII) in the form of a Declaration on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. The Declaration dealt comprehensively with the inalienable and inherent right of developing nations to exercise permanent sovereignty over their natural resources and recorded the fundamental principles of sovereignty of states over their natural resources. The Declaration was of immense significance because it was negotiated within the framework of the respects conflicting, interests of capital-importing countries-the owners of natural resources, and capital exporting developed countries.

The principles outlined in the Declaration on Permanent Sovereignty. Over Natural Resources were complemented and Nations. One of the reports of the UN Secretary General observed that the sovereignty includes the right of every state to dispose all of natural resources and to determine what economic structures ____ make its best use possible, and to determine the sphere and character of direct foreign investment and their conditions:

The assertion of the principle of permanent s sovereignty over natural resources was of immense significance for the developing countries because it provided a basis on which these countries could claim to change the inequitable and uneven legal arrangements under which foreign investors enjoyed right to exploit natural resources available within the territorial boundaries of developing countries. Such an alteration could be facilitated through an exercise of (i) the right to nationalise i.e. to acquire the rights enjoyed by the foreign investors of (ii) the right to envisage changes particular terms of the arrangements including the right to repudiate an arrangement already made with the foreign investors.

Sovereignty over Natural Resources


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.

Foreign Policy of the United States (Short Note)

Americans like to think of their country as the goddess of liberty, holding high the torch of freedom as a beacon light to all the peoples of the world. Communist propagandists point to that same America as a ruthless imperialist power trying to prop up her rotten system by exporting her trouble to the rest of the world and to force all other nations to accept her dictates. Some friendlier critics speak of her as a reluctant dragon with brute strength but with little mind or imagination. All these images are stereotypes. The interesting thing about them is not that they misrepresent or obscure the real United States but that they all appraise her in terms of foreign policy.

By history and by experience, by temperament and by inclination, Americans are ill-prepared to accept the heavy responsibilities and commitments in world affairs which their country has assumed in recent years. The transition has been made too suddenly, and the tempo of events has accelerated too rapidly, for the evolution of a satisfactory policy for the “long pull”. Moreover, the state of the world has been such that a really satisfactory foreign policy is probably impossible.

After some preliminary observations, we shall center our discussion on the period since 1945. But first something must be said about the factors conditioning American foreign policy, the basic principles of that policy, and the nature of the national interest.

Factors Conditioning American Foreign Policy

The foreign policy of the United States, like that of any state, is shaped largely by geographical and historical considerations, by her political and social system, by her economic strength and military power, by her relative power position, by the policies of other states, and by the world environment. The following observations on American foreign policy, made in 1949 by an anonymous but important United States statesmen who has much to do with shaping this policy,” point to its basic setting and nature:

United States foreign policy is the sum total of the aspirations.

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