Leif Wenar (King’s College London, UK), Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

On 11 September 2017, we welcomed Professor Leif Wenar, from the King’s College London and author of the book “Blood Oil: Violence and the Rules that Run the World” (2016).
Professor Wenar presented different aspects of the modern debate on oil exploitation. He emphasised the “oil curse”, centred on the validity of the 17th century “might makes right” rule. That doctrine establishes that whoever can keep control of resource rich territories will get the right to sell off those same resources. The major implication of this rule, according to Professor Wenar, is that it authorizes the acquisition of oil from countries that use force to control its natural resources.
Professor Wenar further argued that at least in a level of principle, the world has already agreed on a better rule to govern oil global trade: “a country belongs to its people”. This rule establishes that all natural resources belong to the people; that is, if any government sells oil without people’s consent, it would be selling stolen goods. The importance of this new rule, according to Professor Wenar, is that it makes the power of oil accountable. The oil curse is a problem of power and only the people can check this power.

Virgílio Afonso da Silva
Author: Virgílio Afonso da Silva

Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Sao Paulo.