Re-politicizing State Sovereignty in Global Governance: A Political Economy of Transparency in the Oil Sectors of Gabon and Ghana

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Compaore, Nadege
Postcolonial States , State , Third World , Oil , Sovereignty , Transparency , Global Governance
In the last two decades, the study of transnational corporations (TNCs) and other non-state actors has gained an undisputed momentum in the fields of International Political Economy (IPE) and global governance, thus challenging realist notions of the state as the main actor in International Relations (IR). This dissertation argues that along with this paradigm shift, IPE and global governance scholars have increasingly understated the role that sate actors –especially those from the global south– play within global governance structures. My dissertation undertakes an in-depth examination of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a voluntary global governance initiative launched in 2002, which aims to foster transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors. The dissertation asks why some African states have complied with the EITI requirements, while others have not. I focus on the primary cases of Ghana and Gabon, two key illustrations of oil-rich African countries that have, in respective order, complied with, and failed to comply with, the EITI Standard. To explain this puzzle, dominant theories in African Politics and in IR focus on 1) “good” or “bad” governance within host states as an aid or challenge to compliance; 2) corporate behaviour as a hindrance, or as a boost, to host state compliance; or on 3) the voluntary nature of the initiative as a challenge to compliance. Based on in-person interviews and participant observations from fieldwork, as well as extensive primary document analysis, I argue that African postcolonial states, through their continued negotiations for equality in the current world order, place a top value on their sovereignty, which affects their behaviour on the global stage. My argument theorizes the role of postcolonial states in global governance, and addresses limitations in the extant literature, which I suggest is marked by both a technocratic and Eurocentric approach to the study of voluntary regulation. My analysis draws upon Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) scholarship and de-colonial critiques of IR, to unpack the design and governance process of the EITI, as well as its implementation in Gabon and Ghana. The analysis also considers South Africa’s non-adherence to the EITI, in order to further make sense of findings in Ghana and Gabon. This dissertation has key implications for the relevance of contemporary IR theory in explaining postcolonial state behaviour in the international system, and points to the need to recognize the active role that postcolonial states play in shaping global governance structures.
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