Conducting resource extraction in failed states, conflict zones, and

countries with poor human rights records (collectively, "regions of

concern") raises a number of profound moral and ethical concerns. Not

only might human rights abuses be committed in the resource recovery

process (such as by the displacement of local populations or the use of

forced labor), but royalty payments by extractive industry corporations

might also bankroll oppressive governments and their military machines.

In their article, Matthew F. Smith and Naing Htoo document the many

abuses committed by the military juntas that have ruled Burma since

1962-both in their efforts to cling to power, as well as in exploiting the

country's significant hydrocarbon reserves. Energy royalties contributed at

least U.S. $ 1 billion to the junta's coffers in 2006; and incidents of forced

labor and forced migration along the route of the Yadana gas pipeline are

well documented. Similar dilemmas confront energy companies doing

business in Sudan, where royalty payments are widely suspected of fueling

the atrocities in Darfur.