Cursed by Resources : Can Transparency Lift the Spell? Combating the Resource Curse in South Sudan

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There are many countries that have to cope with all kind of problems related to economic growth, corruption and conflict after the discovery of natural resources. This phenomenon is known as the ‘Resource Curse’. Some states managed to escape due to the presence of strong institutions. In contract to countries with weak institutions, which are trapped and not capable of dealing with complex problems. Therefore, this study explores to what extent external actors can help to compensate for weak domestic institutions in order to combat the resource curse. It does so by examining if the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) can play a role in assisting resource-rich South Sudan. The EITI promotes revenue transparency whereby it aims to increase accountability in extractive industries. Although South Sudan could use EITI’s assistance, the current government lacks commitment to proceed with the implementation process. EITI’s possible impact is limited by the lack of capacity within the government and civil society. The corrupt system of governance in South Sudan reduces most external efforts to treating symptoms while the broader political system is left untouched. Moreover, EITI might at best mitigate some problems related to resource abundance. In general, potential impact of external help is restricted in weak institutional environments because corruption commonly serves the interests of the elites and is rather a part instead of a defect of the system. International initiatives can replace certain institutional components but they cannot change a corrupt system. Hence, this study concludes that external actors can only help to compensate for weak institutions to a limited extent.
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