The international community assigns a high priority to helping impoverished
societies, yet its efforts are currently lopsided. While it spends around U.S. $
100 billion on aid and provides over 100,000 UN peacekeepers, to date it has
largely neglected the potential of international codes and laws to raise
standards of economic governance. This Essay analyzes the potential
contribution of such codes and laws to increase the development impact of
natural resource revenues. The current commodity booms make this a critical
opportunity for assistance. This Essay reviews the evidence on the resource
curse and its causes, including a prognosis for the long term consequences of
the present commodity booms, concluding that where behavior patterns to stay
unaltered the present booms would be a missed opportunity of quite
staggering proportions. The Essay then anatomizes the decision process by
which valuable natural resources in the territory of the society are harnessed
for economic growth that benefits the society, delineating five key decisions
and considering, for each, whether past failures were predominantly due to
mistakes or to misaligned incentives. Next, the Essay turns to the scope for
new international voluntary codes and discusses the potential need for new
laws, the national promulgation of which would be coordinated across the
OECD analogous to anti-bribery legislation. Such laws are difficult to
introduce and so are a last-resort approach for the realignment of incentives.
"Laws and Codes for the Resource Curse,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal: Vol. 11
, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol11/iss1/2