Since the mid-1980s, 32 countries around the world have adopted community development requirements into their mining laws, while nine countries are in the midst of doing so. This new public regulation approach to addressing mining’s impact goes beyond mitigating the negative effect of mining on local communities (such as through compensation arrangements and environmental laws), to requiring firms and/or states to ensure that mining translates into real, positive social and economic gains for mining-affected communities, thereby redressing the inequitable distribution of mining’s costs and benefits. I address the question of cross-national variation in the adoption of these laws through a combination of statistical analysis and a case study of regulatory reform in Sierra Leone. I find that strong regional, organizational, and economic pressures provide material and normative incentives for states to adopt these laws, with global norms diffusing from the international to the domestic level through international institutions, actors, and financial flows. Countries with community development in mining laws are likely to influence neighboring states to adopt similar laws, while soft law initiatives like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative exert normative influences on member states to adopt new laws that benefit mining-affected local communities. States further adopt the laws to attract foreign investment into their mining sectors, as community development in mining laws serve as a signal to the international community about the quality of a country’s investment climate – in particular, the security of the investment environment.
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