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Addressing the human rights impacts of ‘land grabbing’

Lorenzo COTULA


This Study discusses the human rights issues raised by large-scale land deals for plantation agriculture (‘land grabbing’) in low and middle-income countries. Firstly, the Study takes stock of available data on large land deals, their features and their driving forces. It finds that ‘land grabbing’ is a serious issue requiring urgent attention. Secondly, the Study conceptualises the link between land deals and human rights, reviews relevant international human rights law and discusses evidence on actual and potential human rights impacts. It finds that important human rights dimensions are at stake, and that compressions of human rights have been documented in some contexts. Thirdly, the Study identifies the areas of EU policy that are most directly relevant to addressing the human rights impacts of ‘land grabbing’, and in so doing it also briefly discusses developments in home and host countries as well as internationally. Fourthly, the Study proposes courses of action by which the EU, and the European Parliament in particular, can further prevent or remedy human rights violations linked to large-scale land deals.

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

Publication information

  • External: X00131
  • Published: Dec 2014 - European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights, Brussels
  • Area: Africa, Asia, South America
  • Theme: Land acquisitions and rights
  • Source pub: Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, Directorate B Policy Department - Study
  • Language: English

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Land is central to livelihoods, culture and identity for millions of people across the developing world. But there is growing concern that people's connection to their land is being undermined, due to large-scale land deals for agricultural investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

More at www.iied.org:
Understanding growing pressures on land: 'Land grabbing' and beyond