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Keywords:

  • resource rights;
  • territory;
  • nationalism;
  • self-determination;
  • global justice

Despite the fact that it is often taken for granted that political units and/or peoples have rights over the resources within their territory, it is not clear why political authority over persons should give rise to claims over resources, what those claims should be, or how they could be justified. In an attempt to bring some clarity to these issues, I focus on resource rights as a theoretical meeting point between political authority and rights over goods. Because self-government rights are rights of collectives, my aim is to provide a theory of collective resource rights. The theory advanced here provides an account of the how, what and why of collective rights over resources. In the final section I argue that this theory also provides theoretical tools for addressing competing collective and individual claims over resources. I examine two leading conceptions of collective resource rights in the political theory literature: (1) the democratic account; and (2) the liberal nationalist account. I argue that both of these conceptions are wanting. I then argue on behalf of my own theory, political legitimacy over resources, that it provides a coherent normative foundation for resource rights.