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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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Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent

Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent , authored by lawyers from leading international law firms, provides an in-depth and damning analysis of Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The report examines how the law, enacted in 2009, is a tool of repression, designed and used by the Ethiopian Government to silence its critics.

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...

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Blog

Logging camp in Fergusson Island, Milne Bay. Credit: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace.

Laundering Illegal Timber: How Tropical Wood Stolen Through Land Grab Makes its Way to the Furniture Store

Thursday, June 8, 2017 Frederic Mousseau

With 3.1 million cubic meters of tropical wood exported, primarily to China, Papua New Guinea (PNG) became in recent years the world’s largest exporter of tropical wood, surpassing Malaysia, which had held the top spot for the past decades. PNG reached the coveted first place after expanding the exploitation of its forest resources through a legal mechanism called Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs). According to a government...

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Justice Denied: Government and International Community Fail to Bring Justice to Sri Lanka

Thursday, March 23, 2017 Elizabeth Fraser

For the past two months, protests have erupted across Sri Lanka’s North and East. Communities have launched rolling hunger strikes , insisting that their land be returned. Relatives of the missing have held sit-ins , demanding answers about their loved ones fates and whereabouts. And in numerous cities and towns people have marched, calling for the creation of a court with international judges to prosecute war crimes committed during the...

The World Bank’s Land Conference: Pro-Poor Bluff to Serve Neo-Colonialism

Monday, March 20, 2017 Alice Martin-Prével

This March 20, 2017, the World Bank’s 18th Annual Land and Poverty Conference begins, featuring a session where Bank specialists will deliver their assessment on the “quality” of land regulations globally. In particular, the Bank’s staff will comment on the implementation and findings of the Doing Business (DB) and the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA), two projects that rank countries’ regulatory...

Credit: Donald Trump photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0. Maithripala Sirisena photo by Mr Sudath Silva / Maithripala Sirisena Official [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Image cropped, and color adjusted.

This Human Rights Day, Stand Up for Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Thursday, December 8, 2016 Elizabeth Fraser, Anuradha Mittal

December 10, 2016. This International Human Rights Day – themed “ Stand up for someone’s rights ” – there’s a lot to stand up for. In the weeks since Trump won the US Presidential election, hate crimes against Muslims, people of color, and immigrants have spiked; white nationalists have been appointed to top positions in the White House; and many of Trump’s election pledges – from deporting...

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...

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