Community Participation in Development

61 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2017 Last revised: 23 Feb 2018

See all articles by George K. Foster

George K. Foster

Lewis & Clark College Paul L Boley Library

Date Written: June 21, 2017


A remarkable series of legal reforms and private innovations has given municipalities, indigenous peoples, and other local groups vital opportunities to influence development projects and secure economic benefits. This Article demonstrates the existence of this global trend and offers a model for explaining how and why it has manifested, as well as why—despite impressive gains—many communities still lack what they would consider sufficient influence or benefits. First, the Article argues that all of the formal rights and powers that local interests have secured in recent years result from pressure by communities and their supporters and are designed to address specific deficiencies in higher-level decision making. Second, while higher authorities have made a number of concessions, they have consistently tailored any new community rights and powers to avoid giving local interests outright control over development, for reasons both self-interested and grounded in legitimate public policy concerns.Third, communities are increasingly turning to private mechanisms to supplement their formal rights and powers. These mechanisms offer a number of advantages, but their viability ultimately depends on communities possessing—and effectively leveraging—robust public sources of influence.

Keywords: international law, foreign investment, indigenous rights, environmental impact assessment, land use, regulatory powers, community development agreements

JEL Classification: K20, K23, K32, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Foster, George K., Community Participation in Development (June 21, 2017). 51 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 39 (2018), Available at SSRN: or

George K. Foster (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark College Paul L Boley Library ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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