Support in Analyzing Contracts

Contracts play a critical role in governing many agriculture and land investments. We work with civil society, governments, and others to understand, assess, and improve contracts and contracting processes. Our work includes directly supporting civil society in assessing contracts, providing trainings to government officials and others, and developing research and resources that support improved contracts and better understanding of them.

Analyzing contracts
CCSI assists civil society organizations in analyzing agricultural contracts and other resource contracts for human rights, fiscal, sustainable development, and environmental implications. Examples of this work include: 

  • Reviewing an existing investor-state contract to help a civil society organization understand what requests it might make for the government to re-negotiate in order to improve human rights and environmental impacts. 
  • Reviewing a draft model investor-state contract for human rights and fiscal implications, to support civil society input into the draft. 
  • Providing input into a model oil palm lease drafted by a civil society organization to be used as a starting point in negotiations between communities and investors. The model lease includes safeguards against harmful social and environmental impacts of investment and aims to support the conclusion of more equitable agreements.

Training on contracts
CCSI trains government officials, lawyers, civil society representatives, and community members on understanding agriculture and land contracts, and on integrating responsible practices into contract design. This includes trainings hosted by CCSI, as well as trainings organized by others.

Resources and guides
CCSI also develops resources that help governments, civil society, communities, lawyers, and others access and assess existing contracts. Examples include:, which collects publicly available investor-state contracts and provides plain-language summaries of key contractual provisions.

Guide to Land Contracts in Agricultural Projects. Agricultural investment contracts are complex. This Guide was developed to assist non-lawyers in better understanding agricultural investment contracts, such as those available on The Guide provides explanations for a range of common provisions. It was prepared by International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) staff and volunteers in collaboration with CCSI.

Guide to Land Contracts in Forestry Projects. This guide assists users in understanding the technical provisions and language typically found in forestry contracts in order to better understand the contracts and the potential implications of specific provisions. It was also prepared by ISLP staff and volunteers in collaboration with CCSI.

Briefing for grass-roots organizations – Bridging the information gap: How access to land contracts can serve community rights. This short briefing note explains how local organizations can use land contracts and to support communities to protect their rights. With these tools, organizations can help communities to:

  • Understand company and government obligations related to a company project.
  • Monitor whether those obligations are being fulfilled.
  • Hold companies and the government to account for bad contracts or for failing to deliver on commitments that are important to communities.

CCSI also offers Self-Study Training Modules, which help users of to learn more about the repository and land contracts more generally, including how to analyze land contracts using 

Research to support better contracts
CCSI undertakes research that aims to: (1) enhance understanding of existing contracting practices and (2) improve contracting approaches so that contracts are better aligned with responsible practices. Examples include: 

  • Research on current practices around community-industry agreements tied to land investments. In March 2017, CCSI presented a paper on community-investor agreements tied to agricultural and forestry investments, highlighting the “state of play” around such agreements, and providing concrete recommendations on how the agreements, and practices around them, can be improved. In drafting the paper, CCSI collected and analyzed more than 40 community-investor agreements. A final version of the paper was published as a chapter in  Indigenous-Industry Agreements, Natural Resources and the Law (Routledge 2020)
  • Research on how consultation and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) can be integrated into investor-state contract negotiations, to better safeguard the land rights and human rights of project-affected community members.