Human Rights and Arctic Resources
33 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 20, 2009
Because the res nullius, the unowned thing, is potentially the property of whoever successfully claims it, the scramble to claim and exploit resources deemed “unowned” has been a black chapter of human history. Cherished social and human values have been trampled in the rush for riches. The very idea of an “owned” versus an “unowned” resource, be it land, oil or living organisms, is, of course, a political construct, fraught with unspoken value judgments about the kind of use or possession worthy of that recognition. Throughout history, biases and prejudices have morphed judgments about the uses sufficient to demonstrate ownership into an assessment of whose use or possession will be dignified with the label of ownership. This latter assessment, implicit in the first whenever there are competing claims to a resource, has been wielded to systematically dispossess indigenous peoples around the world.
This article explores how the developing international human rights jurisprudence might translate into a better, more just, more environmentally responsible process for deciding the fate of Arctic resources.
Keywords: human rights, property, indigenous rights, Belize, Arctic, regulation, decisionmaking, energy, climate change, natural resources, Chukci Sea
JEL Classification: K1, K10, K23, K32, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation