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CSSN Scholar Publications

Proxy-led accountability for natural resource extraction in rentier states

March 7, 2022

By analyzing research on mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, CSSN Scholar Teresa Kramarz co-develops a conceptual framework for investigating proxy-led accountability for natural resource extraction in rentier states.

The resource curse literature suggests that, in fragile states dependent on natural resource rents, structures of public accountability are weak because of an elite-controlled political economy indifferent to social and ecological interests. We examine accountability claims made by non-domestic proxy actors, holding governments and corporations accountable on behalf of communities adversely affected by natural resources extraction. This conceptualization is suggested by proxy-led transnational mobilization against mining-related damage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We identify an ‘hourglass’ structure of proxy actor engagement with affected communities: In a first phase, proxies rely on public mechanisms to define standards remotely. In a second phase, proxies ‘narrow’ the gap by seeking compliance information from affected communities. However, in a third phase, this gap ‘widens’ again when proxies remotely seek sanctions against responsible actors. We discuss the applicability of this heuristic framework to proxy-led accountability practices in other natural resource-dependent rentier states.

Image Credit: Unsplash/ Shane McLendon