Contemporary Land Grabbing: Research Sources and Bibliography

107 Law Library Journal 259-285 (Spring 2015)

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 216-2015

27 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2015 Last revised: 15 Oct 2015

See all articles by Jootaek Lee

Jootaek Lee

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School; Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: November 25, 2014


Contemporary land grabbing issues often include large-scale land acquisitions by foreign and/or non-indigenous investors, land alienation from local communities, and the protection of rights, livelihoods, and culture of indigenous and local people in connection with their traditional usage of arable land, forest, and water. This new contemporary land grabbing was stimulated by many complicated reasons, such as the 2008 price spikes in food and fuel prices, the motivation of states and investors to secure food supplies under market volatility, safe investment alternatives under land and commodity price increases, the search for alternative energy sources such as biofuels, and expected compensation for carbon sequestration. Investors, consisting of multinational and transnational business entities and various types of investment banks and funds normally backed by investing countries and international financial institutions (“IFIs”) such as the World Bank, have also been supported and protected by the governments of target countries, putting local and indigenous people in a weaker position.

Researching contemporary land grabbing issues is complicated and more difficult than traditional land grabbing research which covered between the colonial period and the early twenty-first century. Contemporary land grabbing research is difficult for researchers because of the complex reasons and motivations behind the contemporary land grabbing, the number of stakeholders involved, the interdisciplinary nature of research, the many different types of legal sources to search — international treaties, custom, jurisprudence, soft law, and domestic statutes and customary law — lack of empirical evidence, and scattered resources in many different places. The research is a mixture of international and domestic legal research and legal and non-legal research. In this article, the author first investigates the contemporary land grabbing and land alienation and their definitions and identify the difficulties of research. Next, the article delineates various mechanisms and international principles which can be useful for the protection of the rights of indigenous and local people from the attack of State and non-State actors. Finally, the author selectively reviews several books and articles with annotations which provide great starting points for contemporary land grabbing research.

Keywords: land, grabbing, land grabbing, contemporary, legal research, bibliography, interdisciplinary, international law, human rights, indigenous people, Asia, Africa, Latin America, transnational corporations, Guiding Principle,Maastricht Principles,extraterritorial obligations,PRAI,Voluntary Guidelines

JEL Classification: K00, K11, K33, K20, K22

Suggested Citation

Lee, Jootaek, Contemporary Land Grabbing: Research Sources and Bibliography (November 25, 2014). 107 Law Library Journal 259-285 (Spring 2015), Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 216-2015, Available at SSRN:

Jootaek Lee (Contact Author)

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School ( email )

123 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07120
United States

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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