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The Network on International Law, Natural; Resources and Sustainable Development is a research network of scholars, policymakers, research centres and policy and non-governmental organisations with interests in the governance and international law relating to natural resources and sustainable development. The Network aims to foster research and policy collaboration, particularly between academic institutions in the north and institutions in the south and involving policymakers and practitioners from different parts of the world. Researchers in the Network consider, among other things, the national and international approaches to the regulation of natural resources in developing countries and the impact of such approaches on sustainable development and on the evolution of international law.

The Network emerged from a Workshop on International Law, Natural; Resources and Sustainable Development held at the University of Warwick in September 2013. A follow-up workshop will be held in Amsterdam in January 2015.

An important and novel feature of this Network is our objective of bringing together legal and policy expertise from a diverse range of academic and practitioner base. We are bringing together legal scholars, practitioners, campaigners and policymakers from a wide range of specialisms, from trade and investment law to sovereign debt to tax to human rights and environmental law, to consider how their area of research has been affected or are being affected by the conflicts and tensions relating to natural resources.

The aim of the Network is to provide a platform to explore the complex issues surrounding the governance and international legal framework relating to natural resources and sustainable development. We aim to develop a broad, multi-stakeholder international network for research collaboration, research dissemination and knowledge transfer on the issue of international natural resource governance and management.

We believe that the issue of international governance and management of natural resources will become a key area for international research, law and policymaking in the coming years as the contestation and conflict over their ownership and use become more acute. The current economic and ecological climate calls for a reappraisal of the international legal and political framework governing natural resources, defined broadly to include materials and organisms naturally occurring in the environment, such as water, mineral and fossil fuels, and cultivated resources, such as food crops, both renewable and exhaustible. This reappraisal is urgent because the governance and management of natural resources have formed a pivotal backdrop to the evolution of international economic law in the postwar period and have been critical components of the process of economic globalization. Importantly, the burgeoning maelstrom of multiple crises – financial, food, climate and energy – facing the international community calls for a holistic review of the challenges and dilemmas structuring the legal, regulatory and policy framework governing natural resources.

The centrality of natural resources to global economic growth has meant that the ownership and control over natural resources have been at the forefront of legal, territorial and political disputes between states, particularly between the north and south. At the same time, the links between natural resource depletion and environmental degradation, impoverishment and human rights violations mean that the governance and management of natural resources remains a critical arena for local and transnational contestation. In particular, tensions between the economic drivers of natural resource extraction and exploitation, the ecological concerns of resource conservation and the socio-economic imperatives of poverty alleviation and equity in wealth distribution have long structured international relations and relations between states and civil society. It is critical that these issues be addressed in a comprehensive and holistic manner with prominence given to voices from the south, where these tensions and conflicts are realised in the most acute and often devastating ways.

For further information, please contact us at: ilnrsd at warwick dot ac dot uk