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Agricultural investments in Southeast Asia: Legal tools for public accountability

As trade and investment flows rapidly increase across Southeast Asia, several countries have experienced a surge in large land deals for plantation agriculture. Against this backdrop, civil society organisations have been using a wider range of legal tools to promote public accountability in investment processes. These include scrutinising the negotiation of international treaties, challenging national legal frameworks, raising local awareness about rights, and testing approaches for local consultation and redress.

This report distils key lessons gathered from a regional workshop where legal practitioners, civil society groups and academics shared experiences of using different legal tools for accountability in agricultural investments. Together, these experiences illustrate how working across scales and arenas of law, bridging legal and political strategies, and forming strategic alliances can legally empower citizens, build accountability and shape investments for sustainable development.

This report has been produced under IIED’s Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

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In recent years, a wave of large-scale acquisitions of farmland for plantation agriculture has taken place in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A complex picture of actors involved up and down the chains of investment in agricultural ventures means that understanding and improving opportunities for accountability at every level is critical in ensuring that investment processes respond to local needs and aspirations.

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Accountability in agricultural investment chains

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