Large-scale land deals and social conflict

A new GIGA Publication about evidence and policy Implications of large scale land deals
29. Mai 2022

"Responsible investments should do no harm, safeguard against dispossession of legitimate tenure right holders and environmental damage, and should respect human rights.” Compliance with these principles of the UN VGGT would massively reduce the considerable risk of conflict. The authors have derived a couple of policy recommendations that could bring the common practise considerably closer to the UN Guidline.

How do large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) increase the risk of conflict, and what kind of policies can mitigate this effect? We address these questions with a systematic and policy-oriented synthesis of prior research. First, we suggest a simple conceptual framework linking LSLAs to social conflict through relative deprivation. Second, we present empirical evidence on the associations between land investments and social conflict, drawing on pre-existing quantitative and qualitative studies as well as on own descriptive analyses and case studies. Taken together, this evidence suggests that conflicts accompany a substantive share of LSLAs (10 to 20 percent). Specifically, contentious dynamics often start with violations of community interests, which spur largely peaceful community protests that trigger coercion and violence at the hands of armed actors associated with national governments and investors. Third, we develop a set of policy recommendations in high-lighting the need for thorough regulatory frameworks, meaningful consultation, and full transparency.

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