Land Deals and the Law: Grievances, Human Rights, and Investor Protections
Land-based investments can create significant grievances for local individuals or communities, and host governments seeking to address those grievances must navigate a complicated landscape of legal obligations and pragmatic considerations. This briefing note, funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development, focuses on practical solutions for governments confronting grievances that arise from large-scale investments in agricultural or forestry projects. It accompanies a more in depth report on similar issues, entitled Land deal dilemmas: Grievances, human rights, and investor protections.
The briefing note considers such solutions in the context of governments’ legal obligations, particularly those imposed by international investment law, international human rights law, and investor-state contracts. Understanding the implications of this diverse range of legal obligations is particularly important in light of investors’ growing recourse to international investment arbitration, which can expose a government to liability under an international investment treaty for actions that may be in the best interest of a country and its citizens. Analyzing such obligations is a useful first step for a government seeking to protect its citizens against the negative impacts of land-based investments.