Global Land Grabbing: A European Self-Critique

36 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2013 Last revised: 7 Aug 2013

See all articles by Tomaso Ferrando

Tomaso Ferrando

University of Antwerp Law and Development Research Group and Institute of Policy Development

Date Written: July 5, 2013


Global land grabbing, the contemporary great transformation from small-scale farming to large-scale agroindustry, has been analyzed from different legal perspective and by adopting a plurality of points of view. In particular, scholars and non governmental organizations (NGOs) have amply discussed the use of international law and international human rights as countermeasures for the widely known negative effects of the enclosure of public resources. Among the various proposals brought on the table, it has been suggested to trigger the Alien Tort Statute, to made reference to the accountability of recipient states on the basis of international conventions, and it has been affirmed the existence of a duty for the home countries to control the actions of their citizens beyond their territorial boundaries, as their jurisdiction extended beyond the territorial borders. In this paper, I confront the various attempts to curb land grabbing by means of international legal intervention, but try to go beyond the fragmented vision adopted by certain academic groups and global NGOs. In particular, I combine the 'introspective call' launched by Steve Biko in the 1970s with Susan Marks' insightful invitation not to stop at the bilateral relationship between perpetrators and victims but to look at the hidden beneficiaries, and look at Europe, the place where I come from. As for magic, through this change of perspective, from looking outside to looking within, I expose the internal inconsistencies of European law and policies, together with the role of each individual consumer. It is never easy to be self-critique and understand our responsibility, but only in that way we can tackle the fundaments of a transnational economic system which operates as a connector between every European citizen and locally produced human rights' violations.

Keywords: land grabbing, Europe, European Union, ethanol, root causes, Africa, boycott, divest, sanction

Suggested Citation

Ferrando, Tomaso, Global Land Grabbing: A European Self-Critique (July 5, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Tomaso Ferrando (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp Law and Development Research Group and Institute of Policy Development ( email )

Venusstraat 23
Antwerp, 2000

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