The Role of International Law in Intrastate Natural Resource Allocation: Sovereignty, Human Rights, and Peoples-Based Development
State natural resource development projects have become sites of intense political, social, and cultural contestation among a diversity of actors. In particular, such projects often lead to detrimental consequences for the empowerment, livelihood, and cultural and economic development of historically marginalized communities. This Article fills a gap in the existing literature by identifying and analyzing emerging international law approaches that impact the intrastate allocation of land and natural resources to historically marginalized communities, and thereby, carve away at states’ top-down decision-making authority over development. It argues that while international law may have only been originally concerned with the allocation of land and natural resources in an interstate context, it plays a distributive role today in an intrastate context. Ultimately, this Article proposes that an emerging human rights approach to the allocation of land and natural resources supports a peoples-based development model potentially capable of more readily alleviating conditions of inequity and continued subordination for historically marginalized communities.