1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Identities, Conflict and Cohesion (2000 - 2009)

Transnational Governmentality and Resource Extraction: Indigenous Peoples, Mutlinational Corporations, Multinational Institutions and the State



International financial institutions (IFIs), including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have actively promoted and financed the liberalization of the hydrocarbon and mining sectors of national economies across the globe. They have also espoused the merits of public-private cooperation as a means to sensitize businesses to the problems that accompany such extraction projects. Common wisdom holds that public-private collaborations among governments, IFIs and multinational corporations (MNCs) will enhance social well-being by eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable forms of economic development, protecting the environment and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples.

A number of IFIs, as well as the United Nations, have voiced concern over the adverse impact of resource extraction activities on the livelihood and culture of indigenous communities. Numerous extractive-industry MNCs have also advocated the need to create inclusive consultative platforms that would provide indigenous groups with an avenue to participate in decisions that affect their way of life. These new institutions would afford indigenous peoples the power to veto, sanction or reformulate projects recommended by the government, international agencies or MNCs that they see as detrimental to their way of life. In response to these concerns, a number of international agencies and governments have introduced charters and legislation to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples.

Yet, the scale and scope of the problems confronting indigenous peoples as a result of mineral extraction projects endorsed and funded by governments, MNCs and IFIs is monumental, even baffling. This leads to a paradox: despite the burgeoning number of international charters, state constitutions and national laws across the world that assert and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, the majority find themselves increasingly subjected to discrimination, exploitation, dispossession and racism. This study explores this paradox by creating a dialogue among researchers examining large resource extraction projects in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chad and Cameroon, India, Nigeria, Peru and the Philippines.

The study argues that public-private partnerships studied here eventually led to institutional capture, undermining the neutrality of the state and its capacity to protect indigenous communities. It stresses the need for governments and international agencies to create inclusive consultative platforms so that indigenous groups could have a say in decisions that affect them.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 1 Sep 2008
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 1020-8194
    From: UNRISD