Sustainable Energy Governance and the Notion of State Failure

Peter Bekker, James W. Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intractable sovereignty disputes and outside interventions driven by geo-political calculations challenge the rules-based global order and undermine sustainable development and governance, including of energy resources. States facing chronic conflict and instability, and falling short of fundamental norms of international law as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, are labelled as ‘failed States’ without recognising the deterioration of the global order. This article submits that the one-dimensional notion of a ‘failed State’ is problematic and unhelpful. It advocates a more nuanced, sustainability-based approach of State failure in addressing problems associated with governance of energy resources. It does so with reference to two examples from State practice: Russia’s position in the Arctic region in light of the receding ice cap and estimated hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic Ocean, and the recent US-brokered maritime boundary agreement between Lebanon and Israel enabling Lebanon to gain access to disputed offshore resources without Russian involvement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-221
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal Energy Law and Sustainability
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2023


  • Sustainability
  • Governance
  • International law


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