Natural resources and rights

Why are people in countries rich in natural resources suffering in poverty?

What's wrong

Many poor countries face a resource curse: They should be rich, but because they rely heavily on resources like oil and gold, they suffer from poverty, corruption, social unrest, and human rights violations. Too often, local communities have no say in the extraction of resources from their land and receive few benefits from these projects.

Making it right

Oxfam seeks to ensure that communities have a right to say if, and therefore how, oil, gas, and mining projects are carried out. These projects should not add to poverty and powerlessness; they should help communities overcome these challenges as part of an environmentally and socially responsible form of development.

Nii Anyatei, 46 (also known as "Accra Man"). In background is Kwame Appiah, 42, both from Dumasi.

Join the Right to Know, Right to Decide campaign

Oxfam’s Right to Know Right to Decide campaign challenges international governments and companies to respect the right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of communities affected by oil, gas, and mining operations. As a consumer, your voice matters to companies. As a global citizen, you can speak out in solidarity with people whose lives are affected.

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Stories & updates

Story

Is El Salvador independent?

Independence Day in San Isidro features a fiesta, and concerns about mining and its effects on future generations in El Salvador.

The resource curse

When countries rely too heavily on oil, gas, and minerals, they don't invest enough in manufacturing and agriculture—which can distribute jobs and income more widely across society. When community lands are seized for pipelines or mines, farming and fishing communities suffer. Indigenous people are particularly vulnerable—governments and companies tend to overlook their concerns. And once committed to exploiting nonrenewable resources, governments do not always distribute revenues back to communities.

Communities have a...

Right to know: information on the social, environmental, and economic effects of oil, gas, and mining projects, and how much companies are paying governments.

Right to decide: Free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) for all communities affected by oil, gas, and mining operations. For indigenous people, respect for FPIC is critical for protecting sacred lands and cultural identity.

Featured publications

  1. Fact sheet

    Protect Community Rights and Resources Fact Sheet

    Over 60 percent of the world's poorest people live in countries rich in natural resources—but they rarely share in the wealth. Too often, poor communities have no say in the extraction of resources from their land and receive little information about these projects.

  2. Research

    Extractive Sectors and the Poor