Legal empowerment for local resource control: Securing local resource rights within foreign investment projects in Africa

September 2007
Lorenzo Cotula (IIED)

This report draws lessons from experience of using legal processes to secure local resource rights within the context of foreign investment projects in Africa. Security of local resource rights is a major challenge in many parts of Africa. The analysis of relevant law reveals that resource rights associated with more powerful interests (foreign investment) tend to enjoy greater legal protection compared to those held by local resource users. However, legal tools accompanied by adequate capacity-building efforts can help redress this imbalance and strengthen protection of local resource rights. By increasing local resource control, effective use of these tools can help disadvantaged groups gain greater control over their lives (‘legal empowerment’).