SMNR: African Law: Human Rights and Natural Resources
Semester: Spring 2016
Class Unique: 28716
Course ID: 397S
Credit Hours: 3
The United States has historically imported large quantities of petroleum from Africa. Most of us use electronic devices that are powered by minerals originating in Africa. We wear or give jewelry made of stones mined in Africa. However, most Americans do not realize that our daily activities are tied so closely to Africa. This course will consider the human rights and environmental consequences of resource exploration and extraction in Africa. Other States, such as China, are also huge importers of African resources, playing a role in U.S.-Sino relations.
It is ironic that most of the States in mineral rich Africa are not prosperous. In fact, many African States have very low standards of living. The mineral wealth of African States often does not lead to prosperity; instead, we will see that resources bring corruption, war, environmental degradation, decreasing development. This mix has tragic consequences for Africans, and has an impact on international peace and security.
This course will explore these issues, looking at how inadequate legal protection and/or failure of existing law has been part of these problems. We will also look at how existing law and legal institutions could be used more effectively. We will examine the layers of law in Africa, starting with African customary law, State law, new constitutional developments in African States, African Regional law, and international law. We will explore the utility of the proposed International Anti-Corruption Courts. Finally, we will also explore U.S. law that may apply to the situations we will be discussing, such as banking laws and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
We will be using a variety of materials, both legal and non-legal to examine or topic, including fiction and film.