Table of Contents

International Investment Law and Development

International Investment Law and Development

Bridging the Gap

Frankfurt Investment and Economic Law series

Edited by Stephan W. Schill, Christian J. Tams and Rainer Hofmann

Foreign investment is meant to contribute to the host country’s development, and yet international investment law has often been seen as an obstacle to (sustainable) development. So are investment and development friends or foes? Combining critical reflection and detailed analysis, this timely volume explores the relationship between the two concepts and explores options of harnessing investment for development.

Chapter 9: International (investment) law and distribution conflicts over natural resources

Isabel Feichtner

Subjects: development studies, law and development, law - academic, international economic law, trade law, international investment law, law and development


Natural resources – such as minerals or hydrocarbons – constitute the basis of our economies; they provide us with energy and the raw materials for infrastructure and industrial production. Extractive resources – which are the focus of this chapter – are exhaustible and distributed unequally over the globe. Their territoriality, scarcity and uneven geographical distribution lead to conflicts over access to natural resources. Due to the potentially large gains that can be reaped from natural resource exploitation and extensive social and environmental costs involved conflicts not only arise over access, but also with respect to the questions whether to extract or not, the modalities and the sharing of the costs and benefits of natural resource exploitation.Many poor countries in the Global South have historically been and remain today the site of large scale projects for the extraction of raw materials frequently destined for export to countries in the Global North. Under colonialism, international law was instrumental for the metropolitan powers to secure access to natural resource wealth in the colonies and dependent territories. With decolonization and the inclusion of the former colonies into the international community as sovereign States access could no longer be safeguarded through formal domination. Yet, international law continued to play an important role with respect to the distribution of access to natural resources between States, a role that continues to change over time.

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