Monday, May 18, 2009


“The principle of state sovereignty over natural resources in jeopardy “
1.0 Introduction

Cultural heritage is the combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science; these are monuments: architectural works, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings . Examples in Tanzania we have among others the Stone Town, Ruins of Kilwa and Songo Mnara. Natural heritage has been defined as natural features, geological formations and natural sites consisting of physical and biological formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the scientific point of view. Examples of natural heritage sites in Tanzania are Kilimanjaro National parks, Selou Game Reserve and Ngorongoro Conservation area (NCA).

Sovereignty means each state has exclusive jurisdiction within it is territory and to adopt laws and enforce them, adminster the territory and judge dispute there in. The sovereignty rights of states include rights of states to have exclusive over their resources. This was openly provided by principle 21 of Stockholm Declaration
‘States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.’

1.2 Analytical Discussion

Article 4 of world heritage convention (supra) insists “the duty of environmental protection and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage referred to in Articles 1 and 2 and situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State. It will do all it can to this end, to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, with any international assistance and co-operation, in particular, financial, artistic, scientific and technical, which it may be able to obtain”

The United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) operate to synthesize the two global heritages (world heritage). When you construe Article 4 above, it is easily to note how much the state sovereignty over natural resources has been limited. States are required to adhere to all requirement and provisions of the convention. The UNESCO Convention basis on the recognition that parts of World Heritage of various nations are of outstanding Universal interest and need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as whole

In 1972 United Nation Conference on human environment came up with the declaration commonly called Stockholm Declaration (supra) with 26 principles on international environmental law. The link between human being and environmental protection is clearly established by principles 1,16 and 21 of the Stockholm Declaration provide a freedom of states to freely use their resources without any environmental damage and without infringing any human basic rights. Both Rio de Janeiro and Stockholm declarations advocate for permanent sovereignty over natural resources The United Nations had once vehemently spoke of the right to Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources by G.A. res. 1803 (XVII), 17 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No.17) at 15, U.N. Doc. A/5217 (1962) . Paragraph one declares that the right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well being of the people of the State concerned

The UNESCO convention when implemented it infringes some of rights of over natural resources .For instance, when a part of any state is included in the list of world heritage, then that part becomes a heritage of all nations regulated by local legislation and international conventions. For in stance in Tanzania we have world heritage sites like Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). Recently UNESCO threatens to unlist NCA from the listed World Natural Heritage. UNESCO declared that if people’s activities in Ngorongoro won’t be stopped, Ngorongoro Crater would no longer be classified as World Heritage site .

If global governance over national resources becomes reality, there will be no place for indigenous to hide. To respond to UNESCO Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ezekiel Maige surprisingly said,

"We have already directed the Ngorongoro Authority to conduct census for both human population and livestock in the areas so that we can take appropriate measures," .

This implies that UNESCO Conventions contradicts with the principle of sovereignty over natural resources. This is similar to what happen in Wyoming in September 1995 over Yellowstone Park when World Heritage Committee members from Europe and Asia appeared in Wyoming to help radical environmentalist fight the environmentally friendly mining company, they claimed and won the right to censure human activity within the entire ecosystem. In other words, "systems thinking" rather than scientific facts The international assistance has been used a weapon to weaken freedom over natural resources. Article 26 of UNESCO convention (supra) stipulates that.

“The World Heritage Committee and the recipient State shall define in the agreement they conclude the conditions in which a programme or project for which international assistance under the terms of this Convention is provided, ….., in observance of the conditions laid down by the agreement.”

What would be in the agreement? No body knows. This is deviation from national sovereignty to global governance. It is from this system of international cooperation as elaborated by Article 7 of UNESCO Convention (supra) that state sovereignty can be in jeopardy.

‘For the purpose of this Convention, international protection of the world cultural and natural heritage shall be understood to mean the establishment of a system of international co-operation and assistance designed to support States Parties to the Convention in their efforts to conserve and identify that heritage’

But we should remembers that these kind of assistance comes with hard conditions which make states to sell their sovereignty over natural resources to rich or developed countries.

1.3 Conclusion

The UNESCO convention (supra) has primarily good objectives of environmental protection by classifying and preserving the world heritage sites. But if this won’t be exercised with care, then the Principle of sovereignty over natural resources can be infringed In order to achieve a more rational management of resources and thus to improve the environment, States should adopt an integrated and coordinated approach to their development planning so as to ensure that development is compatible with the need to protect and improve environment for the benefit of their population.

No comments: