The politics of land deals - a comparative analysis of global land policies on large-scale land acquisition

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

1021 Downloads (Pure)


Due to current crises, large-scale land acquisition is becoming a topic of growing concern. Public data from the ‘Land Matrix Global Observatory’ project demonstrates that in low- and middle-income countries, since 2000, 1,419 large-scale land deals (transnational and domestic) have been concluded, covering an area of almost 40 million hectares. The majority of these land transactions, also referred to as ‘land grabs’, took place between 2008 and 2010, peaking in 2009. The global land grab is largely driven by emerging economies in search for alternative ways to secure food and fuel supply in the nearby future. Large-scale land acquisitions often go hand in hand with issues of displacement, weak governance structures, corruption, conflicts, and environmental damages.
Global land policies on large-scale land acquisition could be a solution to regulate the global land grab. Several international institutions have taken the initiative in developing ‘voluntary' principles and guidelines, also known as 'codes of conduct' to combat the global land grab. The effectiveness of these so-called ‘soft law' instruments is however increasingly being questioned.
This paper therefore offers an in-depth institutional analysis on the effectiveness of global land policies on large-scale land acquisition, as developed by the European Union, the World Bank Group and consortium, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the African Union.
Based on theories of soft law, and interrelations with transparency, accountability and legitimacy, twelve hypotheses were tested on a 5-point scale dependently as well as independently. The research implies that the African Union Framework and Guidelines, and the FAO Voluntary Guidelines, are theoretically most likely to succeed in effectively regulating large-scale land transactions in the near future.
With this presentation / my research I would like to open the debate on the effectiveness of these Global Land Policies on Large-Scale Land Transactions ‘from theory to practice’. My research is purely theoretical and I would like to discuss how these Global Land Policies, as established by four major institutions, could actually be translated into practice. Research for example shows that in Africa most land deals are initiated and facilitated by the African governments themselves.
Another interesting subject of discussion is whether these voluntary guidelines have ‘teeth’, in other words do these principles need to have sanctions on non-performance?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Global Land Project 2nd Open Science Meeting, Berlin, March 19-21, 2014.
EditorsGlobal Land Project Amsterdam/Berlin/Sao Paulo
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherGlobal Land Project
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2014
EventGlobal Land Project 2nd Open Science Meeting: Land Transformations: Between Global Challenges and Local Realities - Humboldt University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 19 Mar 201421 Mar 2014


ConferenceGlobal Land Project 2nd Open Science Meeting

Bibliographical note

Abstract no.: 0686
Session: The land-water-energy nexus: governance challenges, approaches and experiences


Dive into the research topics of 'The politics of land deals - a comparative analysis of global land policies on large-scale land acquisition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this