Foreign ?land grabs? and human rights are focus of a CHRGJ report

Photo of Olivier De Schutter, Smita NarulaOn October 28 the Law School’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) released a 118-page report examining human rights concerns raised by large-scale acquisitions of agricultural land in developing countries. CHRGJ also held a panel discussion to mark the launch of the report. Panelists were Olivier De Schutter, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food; Smita Narula, faculty director of CHRGJ and associate professor of clinical law; Colin Gillespie '11, and Sylwia Wewiora '11.

The CHRGJ report, “Foreign Land Deals and Human Rights: Case Studies on Agricultural and Biofuel Investment,” examines both the immediate and anticipated impacts of large-scale land deals on the fulfillment of human rights in host communities, and De Schutter called it a “unique contribution to the current debate on ‘land grabbing.’” The report presents four case studies, based on extensive research by Narula and students in the International Human Rights Clinic, including Gillespie, Wewiora, Geoffrey Johnson '11, Lauren DeMartini '11, David K. Deng '10, and Andrea Johansson (LL.M. '10). Three of the case studies (in Tanzania, Sudan, and Pakistan) raise serious questions about the compatibility of these land deals with the human rights duties of investors and host governments; the fourth example (in Mali) is presented as a “best practice” case. “The report is particularly welcome because it is balanced in this respect,” De Schutter said. Narula noted that many of the human rights concerns flagged in the document are prospective in nature, so she hopes its recommendations—which include a call for transparency and regulation—can be heeded now.

Posted Nomember 1, 2010