The Clean Trade Declaration


This Declaration on Trade in Natural Resources has been drafted by an international team of lawyers and academics.

It sets out the people’s rights, and what our governments should do to respect those rights.

By signing the Declaration, you’re telling your government what you want it to do to NOW to make the world a better place.

Declaration on Trade in Natural Resources

We, the Signers of this Declaration,

I. Concerned that

A. The people of many resource-rich states suffer political repression, civil war, grand corruption, and slower, non-inclusive growth;

B. Resource-rich states risk especially serious conflicts, involving extensive death and injury, widespread sexual violence, the displacement of populations, and large-scale humanitarian emergencies including refugee crises that threaten international stability;

C. Resource revenues provide very substantial funding for political repression and armed conflict, as well as for international terrorism and the spread of extreme ideologies worldwide;

D. Poor public accountability over natural resources is both a cause and an effect of these disorders in resource-rich states;

II. Observing that there is a causal link between the trade policies of resource-importing states and these disorders in resource-exporting states:

A. Trade policies which allow resources that are coercively extracted from exporting states to become legally owned in importing states encourages and rewards publicly unaccountable control over resources.

B. This trade policy of “might makes right” for resources is the most harmful of several policies of resource-importing states that undermine public accountability over resources in exporting states;

III. Hereby affirm the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty, defined as the principle that all peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural resources; and all peoples have the inherent right freely to enjoy and utilize their resource wealth.

IV. And celebrating the facts that

A.  “Might makes right” has already been abolished in many areas of international affairs, by replacing rules that legitimated the slave trade, colonialism, conquest, and apartheid with laws that further peace, self-determination and universal human rights;

B. The overwhelming majority of states are already party to at least one major treaty that proclaims that “All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources,” and which affirms “the inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources”;

C. The concepts at the foundation of the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty are embedded in many international instruments, as well as in many national constitutions and laws, and by national leaders worldwide;

D. Several initiatives that promote Popular Resource Sovereignty, by furthering transparency, anti-corruption, certification and more, have gained widespread international acceptance;

E. Popular Resource Sovereignty is a principle that promotes peace, regard for which can develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

V. Hereby resolve to make the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty the basis of international trade in natural resources, in accordance with the following further principles.

Principle 1. A state’s natural resources are the birthright of its people. Each state should be the trustee of its citizens in the management of their natural resources.

Principle 2. Management of resources may take many forms: conservation, privatization, sale by state-owned enterprises, and more.

Principle 3. Resource-exporting states should secure the minimal conditions for public accountability over natural resources within their own jurisdictions:

A. By providing their citizens with the information that will enable them to understand fully how their resources are being managed, who is getting how much money and other benefits from public resource sales, and how public resource revenues are being spent;

B. By ensuring that citizens can freely discuss and peacefully protest resource management without reasonable fear of serious harms; and

C. By empowering their citizens to be decisive in resource management decisions through free and fair representative procedures based on universal and equal participation.

Principle 4. Resource-importing states should respect the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty.

A. Resource-importing states should treat as stolen any natural resources exported from states in which the minimal conditions for public accountability are not met. This includes resources that have been processed or transformed;

B. States should prohibit the ownership of stolen resources by persons within their jurisdictions, and take legal measures to end the importation of stolen resources into their jurisdictions;

C. States should take measures compatible with international law to discourage other states from importing stolen resources.

Principle 5. States should support and promote the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty in exporting states. This includes:

A. Closing their home markets to foreign persons in possession of resource revenues obtained without adequate public accountability;

B. Requiring high standards of conduct from their home resource corporations doing business abroad, in areas such as transparency, anti-corruption, and respect for basic human rights;

C. Offering incentives for exporting states to achieve greater public accountability over resources.

Principle 6. States should coordinate their laws and policies for respecting, supporting and promoting the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty in exporting states. This includes:

A. Agreeing on objective, transparent and independent metrics for measuring the level of public accountability over resources in all states;

B. Harmonizing their laws and policies so as to establish greater security and predictability in the rules of global resource trade.

Principle 7. States should respect the resource rights of indigenous peoples and minority groups under international law.

VI. States should recognize the principle of Popular Resource Sovereignty as a common standard of achievement for all nations, and to that end should promote this principle so as to secure its universal realization.


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