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.

The Facts

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

Peru, The Poster Child For the World Bank in Latin America

Peru has remained in the good grace of the World Bank. In 2015, it ranks 35th in the Bank’s Doing Business survey, with the second highest score in Latin America, indicating that the government has “created a regulatory environment conducive to business.” In 2008, Peru requested help from the Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) advisory services for the design of a new reform agenda launched in 2009. As a result, the World Bank’s...

Irresponsible Investment report cover

Irresponsible Investment: Agrica's Broken Development Model in Tanzania

This report presents the findings of an investigation carried out in Tanzania between 2011 and 2015 of KPL’s investment venture, focusing on the impacts experienced by surrounding communities.

The Long Shadow of War: The Struggle for Justice in Postwar Sri Lanka

The bloody civil war that ravaged Sri Lanka for 26 years officially ended in 2009 with the defeat of the minority Tamil separatists, led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The conflict, in which the LTTE opposed the government led by the majority Sinhalese Buddhists, killed around 200,000, led to the displacement of more than a million people, destroyed infrastructure across the country, and took a heavy toll on the lives and...

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I Speak without Fear: Where Are Our Loved Ones Who Have Been Abducted, Arrested, and Disappeared?

In December 2014, the Oakland Institute carried out research and fieldwork in Sri Lanka in order to understand and document the state of land conflicts and displacement amid accusations of land grabs experienced by the Tamils and other minorities at the hands of the Sri Lankan army and the government. While investigating the land grabs, the research team witnessed discrimination, harassment by the police, and horrors of the civil war that...

My Home My Land cover

My Home My Land

My Home, My Land is a graphic representation of much of the Oakland Institute's work on land grabs. Illustrated by the Institute's Intern Scholar, Abner Hauge, this publication dismantles the many myths promoted by so-called donor countries, development agencies, and corporations about the positive effects of foreign direct investments through large-scale land acquisitions.

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Blog

Ethiopian army soldiers monitoring Suri people during a festival in Kibish. Credit: Oakland Institute.

Trump, Ethiopia: Neither is Normal

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser

In the weeks since Donald Trump was elected, many have focused on the need to not normalize the man, his words, or his actions. 1 This call is vital. We cannot normalize having someone in the White House who has become the very face of bigotry, islamophobia, white supremacy, misogyny, and contempt for the environment. Ethiopian army soldiers monitoring Suri people during a festival in Kibish. Credit: Oakland Institute. This call has also got me...

A poster of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa at a protest in Oakland, California. Making the crossed arm gesture is now a criminal offense under Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Credit: Elizabeth Fraser

Ethiopia’s State of Emergency: Authorizing Oppression

Thursday, October 20, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser, Anuradha Mittal

The government of Ethiopia has responded to a groundswell of protests, which are calling for democracy and human rights for all, by imposing a six-month long state of emergency, effective October 8.

Ethiopia: Rising African Lion Or Broken Dictatorship?

Thursday, September 29, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

Earlier this year, the World Bank, in an enthusiastic account, praised “The Ethiopian Way” as an exceptional model, responsible for the country’s “successful development performance.” This accolade appears to be a case of amnesia, ignoring the severe political crisis that the country has plunged into since last year. Protests, stay-at-home strikes, and many other acts of resistance – including Olympic medallist Feyisa Lilesa’s widely broadcasted...

Ethiopia: The Time for Change is Now!

Thursday, September 15, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser

This is a critical moment for Ethiopia. The US Government, United Nations leaders, and the international media are all paying attention to the abuses taking place, and finally giving these atrocities the attention they deserve. Now, more than ever, the international community needs to follow through on its responsibility. We must not accept the introduction of a bill or the pardoning of 1,000 as enough. Instead, we must continue to call for...

Growing Protests Bring Ethiopia to the Tipping Point

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 Anuradha Mittal

The past weeks have seen an escalation of ongoing protests across Ethiopia--including widespread acts of resistance like citizens shaving their heads in solidarity with jailed opposition leader Bekele Gerba and stay-at-home protests that have turned bustling cities into near ghost-towns. Despite the undeniable peacefulness of these actions, state violence and repression has continued. Earlier this month, Ethiopia's Prime Minister authorized the...

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