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Land Rights

The purchase and lease of vast tracts of land from poor, developing countries by wealthier nations and international private investors has led to debate about whether land investment is a tool for development or force of displacement.

Overview

Over the last eight years, there has been a significant increase in land-based investment, both in terms of the number of investment projects and the total land area allocated. Industrialized nations and private foreign investors have driven demand for arable land in developing regions, particularly in Africa, but also in South America, and Asia-Pacific.

The lands offered to investors are frequently in use although occupants lack legal claims to the land and access to legal institutions. As demand for land assets increases and governments and multilateral institutions promote land investment, displacement and impact on livelihoods have become serious sources of concern.

What we are doing about it

The Oakland Institute is committed to increasing transparency about land deals including the terms of the deals, the actors involved, and the impact on people and the environment.

Publications

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In King Leopold’s Steps: The Investors Bankrolling the PHC Oil Palm Plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo

As community efforts to reclaim 100,000 hectares of their ancestral land, initially seized over a century ago for oil palm plantations, are met with violent repression, unlawful arrests, and murder, In King Leopold’s Steps: The Investors Bankrolling the PHC Oil Palm Plantations in the Democratic Republic of Congo unveils the names of the investors financing the plantations in the DRC. Communities in Lokutu, Yaligimba, and Boteka in the DRC...

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Endless War: The Destroyed Land, Life, and Identity of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka

Endless War: The Destroyed Land, Life, and Identity of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka , brings forth shocking new evidence on the extent of the continued persecution of the minority Tamil population in the North and East of the country. Under the guise of “development projects,” government driven Sinhalese colonization is growing within Tamil areas with the intent to change demographics and deny Tamil communities access to their land...

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This Is Our Land: Why Reject the Privatization of Customary Land

This Is Our Land: Why Reject the Privatization of Customary Land , is an educational resource that debunks myths used for privatizing land around the world, while providing facts on how customary tenure systems are critical to protecting livelihoods and ensuring sustainable development for the people and the planet. The privatization of land consistently serves the interests of private investors and multinational corporations at the expense of...

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Nicaragua's Failed Revolution: The Indigenous Struggle for Saneamiento

Nicaragua’s Failed Revolution details the incessant violence facing the Indigenous communities in the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions, as evidenced by recent attacks against the Alal, Wasakin, and Miskitu communities, and provides in depth information about the actors involved — foreign gold mining firms, national and international actors in logging and cattle ranching industry, as well as prominent Nicaraguan officials. Whereas...

Is Nicaragua For Sale?

In May 2020, the Oakland Institute published an independent report that documented the incessant violence facing the Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN) and provided in depth information about the actors involved — foreign gold mining firms, national and international actors in logging and cattle ranching industries, as well as prominent Nicaraguan officials.

Pages

Blog

Farmers lead protest against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, January, 9th 2021.

Fuel on the Fire: The World Bank’s Complicity in Duterte’s War on Farmers in the Philippines

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 Andy Currier

The government’s development strategy prioritizes a "modern" export-oriented commercial agriculture system that directly threatens farmers' and Indigenous Peoples' right to land and life. Those who organize and resist are killed or imprisoned with impunity in President Rodrigo Duterte's Philippines.

USAID project mapping and titling land in Petauke, Zambia in July 2018. Photo: Sandra Coburn

Land Unchained?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 Andy Currier

Shifting land registries onto blockchain is a part of the broader move to "unlock the economic potential of land" in order to put more land and natural resources into exploitation by private interests.

SAL palm nursery

Who pays the price of King Leopold’s Bugatti?

Friday, September 4, 2020 Frederic Mousseau

On September 5, 2020, a private collection of some of the world’s fanciest cars, belonging to Hubert Fabri, a Belgian millionaire, will be auctioned at a sale at the Hampton Court Palace in London.

Maungdaw, Myanmar - Farm laborers and livestock in a paddy field. Image: FAO / Hkun La

New Laws Threaten Family Farmers and Ethnic Communities in Myanmar

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 Katherine O'Neill

The VFV Law, the Farmland Act, and the LAAR Law are designed to encourage the legal takeover of lands that millions of farmers and Indigenous people rely on for their livelihoods. The three laws are a potent combination which ensure that the practice of land grabbing – widespread in Myanmar under its previous military dictatorship – can continue, now concealed by false promises of 'economic development.'

Sigiriya fortress in the northern Matale District. Photo: The Oakland Institute

Land Privatization: Why Sri Lanka Must Reject the MCC Compact

Monday, August 17, 2020 Janhavi Mittal

A recent report by the Oakland Institute examines the MCC compact with Sri Lanka and raises alarm over the irreversible consequences of embarking on land privatization – when most of the land is public in the country.

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