Vol. 4, No. 3 (2012)
The Need to Alleviate the Human Rights Implications of Large-scale Land Acquisitions in Sub-Saharan Africa
Semahagn Gashu Abebe
In the last few years, large agricultural investment ventures in Sub-Saharan Africa have brought their own opportunities and risks. On the one hand, large-scale land investments can offer opportunities for development, given their potential for creating infrastructures and employment, transfer of capital and technology as well as improving food security in the region. On the other hand, uncontrolled agricultural investment ventures primarily undermine the rights related to rural livelihood such as the right to property, development, and the right to self-determination as well as having adverse impacts on the environment. Though there is no easy way out of the paradox related to international agricultural investment ventures, there are a number of things to be done to alleviate the problem. At the international level, international human rights groups and organizations need to highlight the importance of access to land as a human right, work on the coming into effect of an international agreement that stipulates standards and obligations with respect to international agricultural investment ventures, as well as exposing illicit land dealings and making an effort to promote the rights of indigenous groups that have been threatened by ‘land grab’ activities. At the national level, the most important steps that need to be undertaken to minimize the impact of land grab activities include improving good governance, ensuring the security of rural communities to land entitlement, payment of appropriate compensation, and allowing freedom of association at local the level.
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