Antiquities as Natural Resources

Andrew P. Morriss (University of Illinois College of Law) has posted Politics & Property in Natural Resources on SSRN. Assuming Natural Resources are analogous to antiquities, he makes some interesting arguments. Here is the abstract:

Modern discussions of natural resources focus on increasing public control over extractive industries proposing measures that range from increasing the public’s share of the gain via royalties and taxes to regulating extractive activities to prevent environmental problems to outright expropriation of private investments. This Article argues that such efforts are counterproductive because the fundamental economic problem of natural resources is producing the knowledge necessary to locate and extract resource deposits. The public benefit comes from enabling the use of the resources and the increased economic activity their discovery produces rather than from royalties or expropriation. The key question in designing natural resource laws is thus their effects on the incentive to discover and manage resources. Private property rights in natural resources are the best way to provide such incentives. Fortunately, the combination of property rights and tort law principles (trespass and nuisance) enables property rights to solve environmental problems related to natural resource extraction as well.

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2 thoughts on “Antiquities as Natural Resources”

  1. This is very interesting Derek. Are you aware of the section of the new Iraqi Constitution which explicitly mentions oil, gas, and antiquities as resources to be administered federally as the national wealth?

    From the Washington Post translation of the document:

    “Article 109:

    First: The federal government with the producing governorates and regional governments shall undertake the management of oil and gas extracted from current fields provided that it distributes oil and gas revenues in a fair manner in proportion to the population distribution in all parts of the country with a set allotment for a set time for the damaged regions that were unjustly deprived by the former regime and the regions that were damaged later on, and in a way that assures balanced development in different areas of the country, and this will be regulated by law.

    Second: The federal government with the producing regional and governorate governments shall together formulate the necessary strategic policies to develop the oil and gas wealth in a way that achieves the highest benefit to the Iraqi people using the most advanced techniques of the market principles and encourages investment.

    (Antiquities and antiquity sites, traditional constructions, manuscripts and coins are considered part of the national wealth which are the responsibility of the federal authorities. They will be administered in cooperation with the regions and governorates, and this will be regulated by law.)”

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