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Legal Opinion Validates KRG's Constitutional Authority in Oil Sector

In a landmark legal analysis, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel provides a resounding endorsement of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) constitutional rights in oil and gas production and management. This opinion, rooted in a deep understanding of international and Iraqi constitutional law, underscores the KRG's legitimate, legal, and constitutional claim to manage its oil and gas resources.

Schwebel's analysis meticulously dissects the 2005 Iraqi Constitution, affirming that the distribution of power heavily favours regional governments, like the KRG, over the Federal Government in matters of natural resource management. Central to his argument is the interpretation of Articles 110, 114, 115, and 121, which collectively do not grant the Federal Government exclusive authority over oil and gas resources. Instead, these articles empower regions to manage the production of oil and gas within their territories.

Judge Schweble offers an extensive review of the 2022 ruling by the so called Federal Supreme Court, which deemed the KRG Oil and Gas Law of 2007 unconstitutional. His perspective significantly contests the court’s verdict and outlines the KRG's authority to create legislation and engage in agreements for oil and gas advancement within the boundaries of the constitution.

Furthermore, Schwebel's opinion aligns with the late Professor James Crawford's analysis, emphasising that the KRG's authority extends to decisions on new oil exploration and exploitation, thereby reinforcing the region's autonomy.

In conclusion, Judge Schwebel's legal opinion serves as a pivotal affirmation of the KRG's constitutional rights, paving the way for a more empowered and autonomous regional governance in managing its vital oil and gas resources.

Stephen M. Schwebel is an American jurist and international judge, counsel and arbitrator. He previously served as judge of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal (2010–2017), as a member of the U.S. National Group at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as president of the International Monetary Fund Administrative Tribunal (1993–2010), as president of the International Court of Justice (1997–2000), as vice president of the International Court of Justice (1994–1997), and as Judge of the International Court of Justice (1981–2000). Prior to his tenure on the ICJ, Schwebel served as deputy legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State (1974–1981) and as assistant legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State (1961–1967). He also served as a professor of law at Harvard Law School (1959–1961) and Johns Hopkins University (1967–1981).

Here is the full text of Judge Schwebel’s analysis, titled “The Authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government Over Oil and Gas Under the Constitution of Iraq"

Kurdistan Opinion Signed