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13 Oct 2016

Lorenzo Cotula, International Institute for Environment and Development

Intl. investment policy exacerbates vulnerabilities of people to corporate land grabs, says expert

"‘Land Grabbing’ and International Investment Law: Toward a Global Reconfiguration of Property?", Oct 2016

This chapter discusses how transitions in the local to global legal configuration of property are accompanying the changing real-life pressures on the world’s natural resources. It explores the strong but often neglected interlinkages between evolving local land tenure systems, national legislation on land and investment, and developments in international investment arbitration and treaty-making. The central argument is that, in each of these arenas, and in the interface between arenas, historical legacies and recent developments are reconfiguring property relations, and redefining control over natural resources. As commercial pressures on resources increase, this evolving legal architecture exposes some of the world’s poorest people to the risk of dispossession...[I]nternational investment law can compound the effects of those shortcomings, by protecting rights or expectations that foreign investors may have acquired under contested circumstances...In large-scale land acquisition, much attention in accountability efforts has been focused on the companies acquiring land.  This focus is partly driven by alleged corporate malpractices (from corruption to inadequate consultation or compensation) and available pressure points for influence...