Conceptualizing the curse: two views on our responsibility for the 'resource curse'

Nili, Shmuel
June 2011
Ethics & Global Politics;Jun2011, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p103
Academic Journal
This essay critically engages proposals by Thomas Pogge and Leif Wenar meant to combat 'the resource curse'. Pogge and Wenar call for boycotts against stealing oppressors, sharing the expectation that the boycotts will significantly contribute to economic and political reform in the target countries. In contrast, I argue that liberal democracies should indeed stop trading with dictators and civil warriors, but for inward rather than outward looking reasons. We, the citizens of liberal democracies through our elected governments, ought to boycott severely oppressive regimes for the sake of our own moral integrity—simply in order to stop being complicit in what is effectively massive scale armed robbery. This inward looking thesis is distinctive in three ways. First, it contrasts with the dominant assumption that global reform must be grounded in the achievement of better political and economic outcomes for others. Second, the inward look manages to avoid the profound empirical uncertainty associated with any attempt to predict the direct effects of global rule changes on domestic institutions. Third, by isolating each democracy's responsibility for each case of illicit trade, the inward looking strategy deals more adequately than the outward view with collective action problems, and therefore has a greater chance of grounding actual reforms, with whatever prospects for better outcomes they may entail.


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