Regimes around natural resource governance are of recent vintage, germinating in the inhospitable environments of civil wars, war-lordism, and state collapse. The targets of these regimes have overwhelmingly been African states, as well-intentioned international actors have tried to restrain the behaviors of both governments and international actors in extractive industries.
Over time, however, regimes of restraint are incrementally transforming into universal, global, and normalized regimes of responsibility. This transformation is still contested and may take decades to take a definitive shape. With time, such transformation will proceed from the assumption that states have to wean themselves from the legacy restraints as they invest in broad institutions of participation, accountability, and transparency.
Moreover, the separation of participation from accountability and transparency is no longer tenable because undemocratic regimes ultimately cannot be restrained or constrained by transparency norms alone. This is why future debates on natural resource governance should return to the agenda of participation and democratization at national and regional levels.
As they have done before, international actors can prescribe, but not force the pace of change around questions of ownership, national and regional responsibility.