In Ghana and across many African States, the people—through the instrumentality of law or their respective Constitutions— have constituted their presidents trustees of the natural resources to be held in trust for the benefit of the people. With a few exceptions, mineral resource governance in Africa has been horrendous: Many African States have failed to leverage their natural resource endowments as a catalyst for much-needed socioeconomic development.

This Article analyzes the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana which provides that all public lands and natural resources in Ghana shall be vested in the President on behalf of, and in trust for, the people of Ghana. The question of whether the vesting of the ownership of all natural resources in the President designates the President as a fiduciary in the utilization and management of these resources was addressed in the 1994 case Adjaye v. Attorney General. The Adjaye Court held that the trust created by the Constitution concerning natural resources was not an enforceable trust and that citizens of Ghana lacked locus standi to sue the government on the basis of that trust.

This Article argues that contrary to the decision in Adjaye, the 1992 Constitution does require the President of Ghana to act as trustee having a heightened and enforceable fiduciary duty to manage the people’s trust. This Article will further explore institutional innovations for streamlining mineral resource governance, specifically how and to what extent the Public Trust Doctrine (“PTD”) developed by U.S. courts could be used to promote and enhance mineral resource governance in Ghana.



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