How investment treaties protect ‘land grab’ deals

IIED | 17 February 2016
by Lorenzo Cotula
Number of land deals for agribusiness investments covered by investment treaties (Sources: Land Matrix; UNCTAD IIA Navigator)
New research examining the geographical coverage of international investment treaties raises concern about how they might affect public action to address ‘land grabbing’.

It is increasingly clear that the international legal arrangements governing the global economy can have direct implications for land governance. 

Take a recent case from Ethiopia, a country where large-scale land deals for agribusiness investments attracted high levels of public attention. In December, the government terminated a 100,000-hectare farmland lease with an Indian investor, alleging lack of progress with land development. 

A few weeks ago, the Indian investor was quoted as saying he was “prepared to seek international arbitration on the matter“, claiming that the cancellation violated a bilateral treaty on the protection of foreign investment that the governments of India and Ethiopia signed in 2007. 

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