Regulating Land Grabs: Third Party States, Social Activism and International Law
Rethinking Food Systems: Structural Challenges, New Strategies and the Law (Lea Brilmayer et al. eds., Springer 2014)
24 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 13, 2014
This chapter explores how international law may regulate large-scale leases and acquisitions of land (“land grab”) that have accelerated in pace and scope in recent years. We start by identifying why the land grab phenomenon concerns food security. In particular, we observe that the lessor countries (those where the land is located) are almost invariably states plagued by corruption, lack of democracy, dependence on food aid, and weak property rights. Where agents (state leaders) have conflicts of interests with their principals (citizens) it cannot be assumed that these transactions will work to the local population’s advantage. After examining why international investment law is not equipped to police these transactions, we turn to sources within trade law. Because trade law concerns the cross border flow of products, it has the potential to de-incentivize food from leaving land grabbed states and deter similar transactions in the future. The central question, then, is whether World Trade Organization (WTO) law accommodates strategies that are designed specifically to discourage particular categories of free trade. Drawing on recent WTO jurisprudence, we propose labeling laws and import restrictions as potential regulations that may be adopted by third party states.
Keywords: Land grabs, International Law, Social Activism, WTO law, GATT Article XX, Labeling law, Famine, Import Restrictions, International Investment Agreements
JEL Classification: F02, F15, F21, K33, K12, K42, O19, Q17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation