The growth of the extractive industry worldwide has greatly benefited from the deregulation of this economic sector in the countries where it proliferates. In order to attract foreign investment, states that host natural resource extraction projects often demonstrate "selective absence" (Szablowski 2007), entrusting the regulation of this industry to the laws of the market, voluntary codes of conduct adopted by the private sector, as well as contractual agreements signed between project proponents and affected communities (Campbell et al 2012, Kirsh 2014, Rodon, Lévesque and Blais 2013, Simons and Macklin 2014). Some authors examine the withdrawal of the state as something that benefits local communities and enables them to negotiate directly with extractive firms (Prno and Slocombe 2012). Alternatively, some authors see the withdrawal of the state as something that limits the ability of communities to defend their interests, as they no longer benefit from state support and are therefore vulnerable to power imbalances and the good will of the companies (Cameron and Levitan 2014). This line of research is therefore concerned with the governance challenges raised by the deregulation of the activities of the extractive industry and the parallel emergence of new modes of regulation, particularly codes of voluntary conduct and contractual agreements between communities and companies. We explore how this new politico-legal context contributes (or doesn’t) to the rebalancing of historically unequal power relations between extractive industries and local communities (Armitage & Plummer 2010). 

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