Africa extended and strengthened its status as a maker of international
law by spearheading the creation and implementation of the norm of “shared
sovereignty” in international criminal adjudication and the management of petroleum
resources through the Special Court for Sierra Leone that was established
to prosecute the principal actors in a devastating war in West Africa in
the 1990s and through the Chad–Cameroon Oil Pipeline Project that created a
model for effective production and utilization of natural resources for national
development. This article argues that by situating itself at the forefront of the
shared sovereignty experience, Africa is making significant contributions to the
development of international law and, despite an initial setback, Africa’s effort
represents a firm foundation upon which major progress can be established.
This article highlights the key challenges that orchestrated the failure of the
Chad project, focusing on the inability of international financial institutions
such as the World Bank Group and state actors to successfully manage complex
shared sovereignty arrangements, particularly in weak states in unstable regions.
The paper further identifies the specific socio-political, economic, structural,
and legal mechanisms that are imperative to ensuring the successful implementation
of oil revenue management or natural-resource-based shared
sovereignty systems in developing nations grappling with sustainable economic
development and democratization.