International Soft-law Instruments and Global Resource Governance: Reflections on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure

 

Lorenzo Cotula
PhD, Principal Researcher Law and Sustainable
Development / Team Leader Legal Tools,
Natural Resources Group,
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED),
4 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EN, UK
lorenzo.cotula@iied.org

 

Covering issues long considered to be within the exclusive preserve of national jurisdiction, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure have created hopes among those working towards more just and effective resource governance. They have also raised questions about the place of international soft-law instruments in contemporary global governance, the processes through which these instruments are developed and implemented, and ultimately their effectiveness in influencing policy and practice. This article reflects on the Tenure Guidelines as a tool for addressing resource governance challenges. It argues that, while the Tenure Guidelines are not legally binding, they nonetheless have legal significance in both national and international spheres. The article also explores the multi-site, multi-actor and contested nature of efforts to implement the Tenure Guidelines – from national law reform to support for active citizenship and bottom-up governance – and the implications that this has for the role of law, and of lawyers, in implementing the Tenure Guidelines. 

 

 

 

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