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Reconsidering Sovereignty, Ownership and Consent in Natural Resource Contracts: From Concepts to Practice

Lorenzo Cotula

Book chapter, 32 pages

A wave of commercial investments in the natural resource sectors has rekindled debates about the place of contracts in the interface between economic governance and control over natural resources.

This chapter interrogates the parameters on which resource-related contracting rests. It examines, based on the foundations of natural resource contracts, focusing on the notions of sovereignty, ownership and consent. This conceptual exploration highlights that, while consent underpins the contract, the legal construction of (state) sovereignty and (resource) ownership sets parameters for the expression of consent.

The chapter then distils practical implications for natural resource contracts, focusing on illustrative issues relating to the substantive and procedural dimensions of investor-state contracts, and to reframing the contracting process around a wider range of resource right holders and affected actors.

The findings provide pointers for piecing together the possibly conflicting commercial and non-commercial interests that are at stake in natural resource contracts.

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