In this issue...investment treaties, grievance mechanisms, ‘land grabbing’ and a new IIED animation on agricultural investment chains.
IIED legal tools newsletter
Legal tools newsletter is sent out every three months to keep you updated on legal tools for citizen empowerment, a collaborative initiative to strengthen local voices and benefit communities.

News and blogs

A rally protesting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) takes place in Wellington, New Zealand (Photo: Neil Ballantyne, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

The rise of civil society advocacy on investment treaties in Malaysia and the Philippines

Investment treaties can have far-reaching implications for communities, but how can citizens in low- and medium-income countries influence their content? In this blog, Thierry Berger examines the role of civil society advocacy on investment treaties in Malaysia, the Philippines and beyond.

The rich landscape of the Wolayita region in Southern Ethiopia highlights the country's huge potential (Photo: Rod Waddington, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

Why parliament should scrutinise the UK-Ethiopia BIT

The House of Commons has been debating the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). But will the UK parliament use its powers to debate a bilateral investment treaty signed with Ethiopia? In this blog, Lorenzo Cotula suggests that if TTIP is bad, the UK-Ethiopia BIT is worse.
A member of the Sekonyer community gets ready for a day on the Sekonyer river in Borneo, close to the site of recent conflict between a palm oil company and RSPO member and the local community (Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Creative Commons)

Paving a path towards redressing grievances and holding investors accountable

How can remote communities with little formal education hold investors to account and seek redress when their rights to land and resources are threatened? This blog looks at the role of grievance mechanisms.

Our work

Image showing people from a village in Mali listen to a man providing legal literacy training to raise their awareness on the law and land rights.

Legal Tools webinars

As part of our Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment initiative, IIED is organising a series of international webinars for Southern legal empowerment practitioners. The webinars provide a space for practitioners to share their experiences and learn from each other. Recent webinars discussed how CSOs can use grievance mechanisms to hold investors accountable, drawing on experience from Liberia and Cambodia; and how CSOs can scrutinise and advocate on investment treaties, based on lessons learned from Malaysia and the Philippines.

The next webinar will focus on how to activate pressure points for improved accountability in agribusiness investment chains.

Implementing the VGGT: The role of lawyers

As part of the process to develop a technical guide for legal professionals on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), IIED organised a joint workshop with FAO on 17 and 18 February. The workshop provided the opportunity to discuss a first draft of the guide and gather examples and technical contributions. It brought together legal professionals assisting diverse stakeholder groups such as governments, CSOs, community groups, private sector and development agencies.

Feeding into international processes

IIED Legal Tools Team staff attended a wide range of policy events. For example, Lorenzo Cotula, Legal Tools Team leader, recently participated in an UNCTAD expert meeting on "the Transformation of the International Investment Agreement Regime" (25-27 February); contributed to a Chatham House panel on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: TTIP: Shaping the Future of Investor−State Dispute Settlement? (4 March); contributed to a Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment executive training programme on ‘Sustainable Investments in Agriculture’, focusing on legal aspects (8-13 March); and presented the Legal Tools work at the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty 2015 (23-27 March).

Philippine Sutz, Senior Researcher in the Legal Tools Team, participated in a UNEP workshop (PDF) on ‘Integrated measures for monitoring the Post 2015 Agenda (3-5 December 2014). The purpose of the workshop was to help identify ways in which appropriate and integrated indicators can be developed to measure progress on five integrated issues including community rights to land and natural resources.

Publications and briefings

Cover image of the study "Addressing the human rights impacts of ‘land grabbing’"
Addressing the human rights impacts of ‘land grabbing’

This study discusses the human rights issues raised by large-scale land deals for plantation agriculture (‘land grabbing’) in low and middle-income countries. It proposes courses of action by which the EU, and the European Parliament in particular, can prevent or remedy human rights violations. The study was commissioned by, and presented to, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.
Cover image of the article "Do investment treaties unduly constrain regulatory space?"
Do investment treaties unduly constrain regulatory space?

This freely downloadable journal article argues that investment treaties can have far-reaching implications for regulatory space, requiring careful thinking through. Choices on whether to sign investment treaties, and in what form, are eminently political, and a key challenge ahead is increasing democratic participation in international treaty making.
Cover image of the report "Agro-industrial investments in Cameroon: Large-scale land acquisitions since 2005"
Agro-industrial investments in Cameroon: Large-scale land acquisitions since 2005

This study assesses large-scale land acquisitions by the agro-industrial sector in Cameroon between 1 January 2005 and 31 August 2013. It examines trends and drivers, the relevant legislation, and early outcomes. As demand for land intensifies and the government encourages foreign investment in agriculture, there is a risk that local communities will find it increasingly difficult to maintain their livelihoods and traditional ways of life. Also available in French.
Cover image of the report "Catalysing famers’ influence in shaping law reform: Experience from Senegal"
Catalysing famers’ influence in shaping law reform: Experience from Senegal shares practical lessons learnt from the ways farmer organisations influenced the formulation of an important framework law in Senegal between 2002 and 2004, and from subsequent initiatives to influence the development of a new land law. The paper was prepared by IPAR and is also available in French.
Cover image of the report "Legal advice for environmental justice:  Experience from eastern India"
Legal advice for environmental justice:  Experience from eastern India 

This paper distils lessons from experience with the advice and referral service model developed by the Enviro Legal Defence Firm and the Environment Law and Development Foundation (ELDF) to promote legal awareness and action to secure environmental justice in India.


Spotlight on promoting accountability in agricultural investment chains

Screen shot of the animation on investment chains
Investment chains describe the relations between the multiple actors that make an investment project possible – from lenders and end investors to service providers, subcontractors, intermediaries and ultimate buyers. Mapping an investment chain allows to identify ‘pressure points’ along the chain where public action can influence the behaviour of actors, or the nature of their relationships.

Promoting accountability in agricultural investment chains has been one of the Legal Tools Team’s strategic areas of focus over the past year.

In March 2014 we published a report entitled ‘Understanding agricultural investment chains: Lessons to improve governance’. The report shed light on the investment chains that underpin agricultural deals, and identified pressure points for effective public action to ensure that investments promote inclusive sustainable development.

Since then, our team has been working to develop learning and awareness raising materials on how to activate pressure points for improved accountability. In February 2015, IIED and Inclusive Development International (IDI) organised a regional lesson sharing workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The workshop enabled representatives from over 20 Southeast Asian civil society organisations to share experiences with activating pressure points in agricultural investment chains.

We are now finalising – still in partnership with IDI – a guide providing guidance to organisations supporting rural communities on strategies for holding actors involved in agricultural investments accountable.

As part of this stream of work, our team recently produced an animation aiming at raising awareness with grassroots organisations and individuals around the world of the concept of investment chains and how they can create opportunities to improve agricultural investment and hold actors to account.
Copyright © 2015 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), All rights reserved.

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