oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources and the nationalisation of foreign interests

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



The principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources forms part of the general principles of public international law, and is on a par with, for instance, the principle of self-determination. The development of the modalities of the principle have however changed considerably over the years, and in this process economic cooperation towards development has been substituted for absolute economic sovereignty as part of the economic self determination of states. It is precisely because of this shift in emphasis, that the legal status of the most important modalities of this principle, namely those concerning the nationalisation of foreign interests, remain unclear. Although resolution 1803 (XVII) was not seen to be a departure from accepted public international law principles at the time of its adoption, the same cannot be said of the provisions of later resolutions. In those resolutions the international principle of compensation was attacked and finally abandoned in art 2(2)(c) of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States (CERDS). This development is now proclaimed especially by socialist and Third World countries to refelct either current public international law or public international law leges ferenda.

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