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Report finds investment treaties limit govts' ability to respond to corporate abuses of land rights

Author: Lorenzo Cotula, Intl. Institute for Environment & Development, Published on: 27 October 2015

“Land rights and investment treaties: Exploring the interface”, 1 Jun 2015

As pressures on land and natural resources increase, disadvantaged groups risk losing out, particularly where their rights are insecure, their capacity to assert these rights is limited, and major power imbalances shape relations with governments and companies…Over the past few years, investors have relied on investment treaties to…[challenge] the legality of state conduct linked to land governance, and sought significant amounts in compensation.  The measures challenged included land reform programmes, handling of farm occupations and termination of land transactions…This report sheds light on how investment treaties can affect land rights…The report finds that investment treaties can have far-reaching implications for land reform, for public action to address “land grabbing” and more generally for land governance frameworks.  As pressures on the world’s natural resources bring competing land claims into contest, imbalances in the law regulating foreign investment raise probing questions about whose rights are being protected and how.  Land rights are essential in realising human rights in many contexts, so addressing these imbalances is not just a matter of policy choice, but a human rights imperative…

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