Appropriating Resources: Land Claims, Law, and Illicit Business

Journal of Business Ethics 106 (4):453-466 (2012)
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Business ethicists should examine ethical issues that impinge on the perimeters of their specialized studies (Byrne 2011 ). This article addresses one peripheral issue that cries out for such consideration: the international resource privilege (IRP). After explaining briefly what the IRP involves I argue that it is unethical and should not be supported in international law. My argument is based on others’ findings as to the consequences of current IRP transactions and of their ethically indefensible historical precedents. In particular I examine arguments from political philosophy for more equitable distribution of resources and appeals to property rights as a means of achieving this; business ethicists’ critiques of contemporary resource appropriations; and legal historians’ accounts of despoliation of aboriginal peoples, especially in what is now the United States, involving acquisition via conquest, asserted jurisdiction, and religious and racial preeminence. I also consider relevant human rights’ standards; supportive views of some theorists, especially early modern realists and current supporters of group rights and multidimensional rectification; some de facto incidences of substantive restitution; and proposals for effecting further rectification
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