Both the ICCPR and the African Charter embody, as a primary principle, the right of a peoples' to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources (article 1(2) and article 21(1) respectively). Whilst hotly debated as to its legal and political status, operationalising a right could enable agrarian communities to contest the disposal of their mineral wealth. However, such a right ought to be embodied in the constitution, where its alterability is perhaps less subject to political change. Without constitutional standing for collectives to assert claims over land, the State could potentially lease or sell mineral rights (sometimes to multiple extractors at once) irrespective of the environmental, labour and economic considerations.
The secession of South Sudan is demonstrative of the South Sudanese peoples' active reclamation of their natural (and substantial mineral) wealth. This article is a critique of whether the new Transitional Constitution of South Sudan (TCRSS) effectively embodies and operationalises article 1(2) of the ICCPR. It concludes that the TCRSS is dedicated to articulating and protecting (competing) agrarian interests in land and natural resources and in so doing demonstrates the reality of multiple and overlapping mineral and land interests.
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