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The Lake Home: International Law and the Global Land Grab

  • Henrietta ZEFFERT (a1)

Home is not a familiar concept in international law. This paper looks at land grabbing and international law from the perspective of home. Through a case-study of a land grab in the context of a World Bank development project at Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it argues that international law is involved in profound transformations of home. By making visible how experiences of loss, suffering, and struggle, as well as radical engagement, emerge from international law’s “homemaking” work, it also argues that the concept of home opens up a terrain of experience that cannot be captured or expressed in international law. The perspective from home in the land-grabbing debate is particularly important where not only is land at risk of capture for economic gain, but so too are the personal lifeworlds that homes represent.

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Lecturer, Centre for Law and Social Justice, School of Law, University of Leeds. I am grateful to Boeung Kak Lake residents, the Housing Rights Task Force in Phnom Penh, Susan Marks, Linda Mulcahy, Nehal Bhuta, and Joseph Spooner for assistance and comments on this paper. The paper was also enriched by discussions with my colleagues on the Max Weber Postdoctoral Programme, European University Institute, Florence, 2016-17.

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1. A Khmer folk tale says that even while a bird has wings to fly, it still needs a nest to keep itself above floodwaters.

2. This paper draws from fieldwork conducted by the author at Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

3. On the history of Phnom Penh, see Osborne, Milton, Phnom Penh: A Cultural and Literary History (Oxford: Signal Books, 2008).

4. Tuktuks are cycle rickshaws.

5. Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, “Boeung Kak Area Drainage and Flooding Assessment”, Report, 2008; Cambodia Development Watch, “Boeung Kak Lake Lease Agreement Discussion Paper”, Discussion Paper, 2007 [Lease Agreement].

6. Municipality of Phnom Penh, “City Development Strategy” (2005), online: CAEXPO <>. See also Cambodian Society of Architects, “Master Plan of Phnom Penh by 2020” (2009), online: Cambodian Society of Architects <>.

7. Lease Agreement, supra note 5 at 5.

8. See, among others, MARGULIS, Matias, MCKEON, Nora, and BORRAS, Saturnino, Land Grabbing and Global Governance (New York: Routledge, 2016); EDELMAN, Marc, OYA, Carlos, and BORRAS, Saturnino, Global Land Grabs: History, Theory and Method (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016); CARTER, Connie and HARDING, Andrew, eds., Land Grabs in Asia: What Role for the Law? (New York: Routledge, 2015); and Ben White, Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Ruth Hall, Ian Scoones, and Wendy Wolford, eds., The New Enclosures: Critical Perspectives on Corporate Land Deals (New York: Routledge, 2013).

9. One notable exception is Surya SUBEDI, “International Law Response to Land Grabbing Asia” in Carter and Harding, supra note 8, at chapter 2. While not on land grabbing per se, Antony Anghie also examines colonial violence to the environment (and, implicitly, to indigenous home and homeland) in Nauru: “‘The Heart of My Home’: Colonialism, Environmental Damage, and the Nauru Case” (1993) 34 Harvard Journal of International Law 445. See also work by political scientists and political economists addressing the role of law in land grabbing: ALDEN WILY, Liz, “The Law and Land Grabbing: Friend or Foe?” (2014) 7 Law and Development Review 207 ; and DIERGARTEN, Yorck and KRIEGER, Tim, “Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Commitment Problems and International Law” (2015) 8 Law and Development Review 217 . See also De Schutter, infra notes 88, 175.

10. The World Bank Group is a specialized agency of the United Nations and an independent international organization comprising five members (the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) established through Articles of Agreement. See for example, Articles of Agreement of the International Development Association, 26 January 1960, 439 U.N.T.S. 249. In this paper, the World Bank is alternatively referred to as “the Bank”.

11. On lifeworlds, see HABERMAS, Jurgen, trans. T. MCCARTHY, The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the Rationalization of Society (Vol 1) (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004).

12. See, among others, ALTMAN, Irwin and WERNER, Carole, Home Environments (New York: Plenum, 1985), and more recently, BLUNT, Alison and DOWLING, Robyn, Home (New York: Routledge, 2006).

13. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Report of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2015, at xxi, and latest statistics at United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “Population Division”, online: ESA <>.

14. See for example, International Committee of the Red Cross, “Urban Services During Protracted Armed Conflict: A Call for a Better Approach to Assisting Affected People”, Report 2013, online: <>. See also PULLAN, Wendy and BAILIE, Britt, eds., Locating Urban Conflicts: Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Everyday (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and the Conflict in Cities project, online: Conflict in Cities <>.

15. See generally ESLAVA, Luis, Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

16. CHARLESWORTH, Hilary, “International Law: A Discipline of Crisis” (2002) 65 Modern Law Review 377 ; and PAHUJA, Sundhya and ESLAVA, Luis, “Beyond the (Post)colonial: TWAIL and the Everyday Life of International Law” (2012) 45 Journal of Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America 195 .

17. RILES, Annelise, Collateral Knowledge: Legal Reasoning in the Global Financial Markets (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

18. BLANK, Yishai, “The City and the World” (2006) 44 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 875 . See also BLANK, Yishai, “Localism in the New Global Legal Order” (2006) 47 Harvard Journal of International Law 263 .

19. Eslava, supra note 15.

20. For example, ENGLE MERRY, Sally, “Transnational Human Rights and Local Activism: Mapping the Middle” (2006) 108 American Anthropologist 38 ; DARIAN-SMITH, Eve, Bridging Divides: The Channel Tunnel and English Legal Identity in the New Europe (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999); and Riles, supra note 17.

21. DE SOUSA SANTOS, Boaventura, Towards a New Legal Common Sense: Law, Globalisation and Emancipation , 2nd ed. (London: Butterworth, 2002).

22. BLUNT, Alison and VARLEY, Ann, “Geographies of Home: Introduction” (2004) 11 Cultural Geographies 3 .

23. HONIG, Bonnie, “Difference, Dilemmas, and the Politics of Home” (1994) 61 Social Research 563 ; M. YOUNG, Iris, “House and Home: Feminist Variations on a Theme” in Iris M. YOUNG, Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy, and Policy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 134 .

24. DESPRÉS, Carole, “The Meaning of Home: Literature Review and Direction for Future Research and Theoretical Development” (1991) 8 Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 96 , and WALKER, Lynne, “Home Making: An Architectural Perspective” (2002) 27 Signs: Women in Culture and Society 823 .

25. CHAPMAN, Tony and HOCKEY, Jenny, eds., Ideal Homes? Social Change and Domestic Life (London: Routledge, 1999).

26. KENT, Susan, “Ethnoarchaeology and the Concept of Home: A Cross-cultural Analysis” in David BENJAMIN and David STEA, eds., The Home: Words, Interpretations, Meanings and Environments (Aldershot: Avebury, 1995), 163 .

27. COOLEN, Henny and MEESTERS, Janine, “Editorial Special Issue: House, Home and Dwelling” (2012) 27 Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 1 .

28. SOMERVILLE, Peter, “Homelessness and the Meaning of Home: Rooflessness and Rootlessness?” (1992) 16 International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 529 .

29. Among others, EASTHOPE, Hazel, “A Place Called Home” (2004) 21 Housing, Theory and Society 128 , and EASTHOPE, Hazel, “Making a Rental Property Home” (2014) 29 Housing Studies 579 .

30. DYCK, Isabel, KONTOS, Pia, ANGUS, Jan, and MCKEEVER, Patricia, “The Home as a Site for Long-term Care: Meanings and Management of Bodies and Spaces” (2005) 11 Health and Place 173 .

31. IMRIE, Rob, “Housing Quality, Disability and Domesticity” (2004) 19 Housing Studies 685 .

32. LANGHAMER, Claire, “The Meanings of Home in Postwar Britain” (2005) 40 Journal of Contemporary History 341 ; and QUINTANA, Isabela and LEONG, Seong, “Making Do, Making Home” (2015) 41 Journal of Urban History 47 .

33. Stefan BRINK, “Home: The Term and the Concept from a Linguistic and Settlement-Historical Viewpoint” in Benjamin and Stea, supra note 26 at 17–24. See also Amos RAPOPORT, “A Critical Look at the Concept ‘Home’” in Benjamin and Stea, supra note 26 at 27–30.

34. NETTLETON, Sarah and BURROWS, Roger, “When a Capital Investment Becomes an Emotional Loss: The Health Consequences of the Experience of Mortgage Possession in England” (2000) 15 Housing Studies 463 .

35. RYBCZYNSKI, Witold, Home: A Short History of an Idea (New York: Penguin, 1986); and Tuedio, J., “Thinking About Home: An Opening for Discovery in Philosophical Practice” in Henning HERRESTAD, Anders HOLT, and Helge SVARE, eds., Philosophy in Society (Oslo: Unipub Forlag, 2002), 201 at 201215 .

36. BLUNT, Alison, Domicile and Diaspora: Anglo-Indian Women and the Spatial Politics of Home (Maldon, MA: Blackwell, 2005).

37. See also BACHELARD, Gaston, trans. M. JOLAS, 1992, ed., The Poetics of Space (Florida: Beacon, 1962); TANIZAKI, Junichiro, In Praise of Shadows (London: Vintage, 1934); and HEATHCOTE, Edwin, The Meaning of Home (London: Francis Lincoln, 2012).

38. See further MALLETT, Shelley, “Understanding Home: A Critical Review of the Literature” (2004) 52 Sociological Review 65 .

39. With the notable exception of Lorna Fox O’Mahony’s work on home in the UK domestic legal context: see Fox O’MAHONY, Lorna, Conceptualising Home: Theories, Laws and Policies (Oxford: Hart, 2007).

40. For example, Somerville, supra note 28, Mallett, supra note 38.

41. Supra note 12; see also BRICKELL, Katherine, “‘Mapping’ and ‘Doing’ Critical Geographies of Home” (2011) 36 Progress in Human Geography 1 at 2.

42. Blunt and Varley, supra note 22 at 2–3.

43. Susan SAEGERT, “The Role of Housing in the Experience of Dwelling” in Altman and Werner, supra note 12 at 287.

44. RAPOPORT, Amos, “Towards a Cross-Culturally Valid Definition of Housing” in R. STOUGH and A. WANDERSMAN, eds., Optimizing Environments—Research, Practice and Policy (Oklahoma: Environmental Design Research Association, 1980), 310 .

45. FOX, Lorna, “The Meaning of Home: A Chimerical Concept or a Legal Challenge?” (2002) 29 Journal of Law and Society 580 at 590; and O’Mahony, supra note 39.

46. Kim DOVEY, “Home and Homelessness” in Altman and Werner, supra note 12 at 33–64.

47. BLUNT, Alison, “Cultural Geographies of Home” (2005) 29 Progress in Human Geography 505 at 510.

48. SAUNDERS, Peter and WILLIAMS, Peter, “The Constitution of Home: Towards a Research Agenda” (1988) 3 Housing Studies 81 at 91.

49. See for example, KURST-SWANGER, Karel and PETCOSKY, Jacqueline, Violence in the Home: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

50. Tony CHAPMAN, “‘You’ve Got Him Well Trained’: The Negotiation of Roles in the Domestic Sphere” in Chapman and Hockey, supra note 25 at 163–81.

51. SCHRÖEDER, Nicole, Spaces and Places in Motion: Spatial Concepts in Contemporary American Literature (Tübingen: Gunter Narr Varlag, 2006) at 33, cited in Brickell, supra note 41 at 2.

52. BHABHA, Homi, “Halfway House” (1997) 35 Artforum International 11 .

53. Kingdom of Cambodia, Land Law 2001, art. 58, online: <>.

54. United Nations, Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, Paris, 23 October 1991 [Paris Peace Accords], online: <>. See also Final Act of the Paris Conference on Cambodia in UN General Assembly, The Situation in Cambodia: Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, UN Doc A/46/608, annex (30 October 1991).

55. See FINDLAY, Trevor, Cambodia: The Legacy and Lessons of UNTAC (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

56. Motodups are motorcycle taxis.

57. Lease Agreement, supra note 5 at 1.

58. The Lease Agreement refers to 4,250 affected households, ibid.

59. World Bank, “Cambodia Land Management and Administration Project: Project Appraisal Document”, Report Number PID9768, 20 September 2001, at 5, 7 [PAD].

60. World Bank, “World Bank Approves Credit for Land Management and Administration Project in Cambodia”, Press Release Number 2002/216/EAP, 26 February 2002.

61. PAD, supra note 59.

62. Cambodia joined the World Bank as a Member State on 22 July 1970. See “Member Countries”, World Bank (2017), online: World Bank <>.

63. See SLOCOMB, Margaret, An Economic History of Cambodia in the Twentieth Century (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2010) at chapters 35 .

64. Paris Peace Accords, supra note 54.

65. See Findlay, supra note 55.

66. CARNEY, Michael and TAN, Lian Choo, “Whither Cambodia? Beyond the Election”, Indochina Unit, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1993 .

67. World Bank, “Memorandum and Recommendation of the President of the International Development Association to the Executive Directors on a Proposed Credit of SUR 45.2 Million to the Kingdom of Cambodia For An Emergency Rehabilitation Project”, 4 October 1993.

68. See especially EAR, Sophal, Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2013).

69. PAD, supra note 59.

70. Ibid.

71. Ibid.

72. Ibid., at 4–5.

73. Ibid.

74. See for example, World Bank, “Land Reform Policy Paper”, Sector Policy Paper (May 1975). See also BROMLEY, Ray, The Urban Informal Sector: Critical Perspectives on Employment and Housing Policies (Oxford: Pergamon, 1979), and RAMSAMY, Edward, The World Bank and Urban Development: From Projects to Policy (New York: Routledge, 2006) at chapter 4 .

75. See generally CHIMHOWU, Admos and WOODHOUSE, Phil, “Customary vs Private Property Rights? Dynamics and Trajectories of Vernacular Land Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa” (2006) 6 Journal of Agrarian Change 346 ; and BROMLEY, Daniel, “Formalising Property Relations in the Developing World: The Wrong Prescription for the Wrong Malady” (2008) 26 Land Use Policy 20 .

76. World Bank, “Housing: Enabling Markets to Work” (30 April 1993), online: World Bank <>; and World Bank, “World Development Report 1997: The State in a Changing World” (1997), online: World Bank <>. See also ORFORD, Anne and BEARD, Jennifer, “Making the State Safe for the Market: The World Bank’s Development Report 1997” (1998) 28 Melbourne University Law Review 8 .

77. See further TRZCINSKI, Leah and UPHAM, Frank, “Creating Law from the Ground Up: Land Law in Post-Conflict Cambodia” (2014) 1 Asian Journal of Law and Society 55 .

78. See DE SOTO, Hernando, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (New York: Basic, 2000); and DE SOTO, Hernando, The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World (New York: Harper & Row, 1989).

79. De Soto, The Mystery of Capital, supra note 78 at 5.

80. Ibid.

81. Royal Government of Cambodia, “An Approach Paper for National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018”, General Directorate of Planning, 2012, at 2.29.

82. Between 1984 and 2016, the World Bank lists 620 projects worldwide as “land administration and management” projects. See World Bank, “Projects & Operations” (2017), online: World Bank <>.

83. See especially work by Timothy MITCHELL, in particular “The Properties of Markets: Informal Housing and Capitalism’s Mystery”, Cultural Political Economy Working Paper Series, Working Paper No. 2, Institute for Advanced Studies in Social and Management Sciences, University of Lancaster, 2006.

84. EARLE, Lucy, “Stepping Out of the Twilight? Assessing the Governance Implications of Land Titling and Regularization Programmes” (2014) 38 International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 628 at 630.

85. I use the terms “global South” and “global North” in this paper, conscious that they are contested terms. See CHATTERJEE, Partha, The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2004), and PAHUJA, Sundhya, Decolonising International Law: Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

86. Mitchell, supra note 83 at 26.

87. See Diergarten and Krieger, supra note 9, and Bromley, supra note 75.

88. DE SCHUTTER, Olivier, “How Not to Think of Land-Grabbing: Three Critiques of Large-Scale Investments in Farmland” (2011) 38 Journal of Peasant Studies 249 at 270.

89. See Borras et al., supra note 8; and BORRAS, Saturnino and FRANCO, Jennifer, “Contemporary Discourses and Contestations around Pro-Poor Land Policies and Land Governance” (2010) 10 Journal of Agrarian Change 1 .

90. See FRASER, Nancy, “Can Society Be Commodities All the Way Down? Post-Polyanian Reflections on Capitalist Crisis” (2012) 43 Economy and Society 541 .

91. See generally Borras et al., supra note 8.

92. See further Mark GRIMSDITCH and Nick HENDERSON, “Untitled—Tenure Insecurity and Inequality in the Cambodian Land Sector”, Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia, Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction and Jesuit Refugee Service, Report, 2009.

93. De Schutter, supra note 88 at 249.

94. Mitchell, supra note 83 at 26–7.

95. Ibid., at 27.

96. Ibid.

97. Interviews with residents in Sras Chok, Daun Penh, September 2014.

98. BIDDULPH, Robin, “Tenure Security Interventions in Cambodia: Testing Bebbington’s Approach to Development Geography” (2011) 93 Human Geography 223 at 224.

99. On customary land rights generally, see OLDENBURG, Christoph and NEEF, Andreas, “Reversing Land Grabs or Aggravating Tenure Insecurity: Competing Perspectives on Economic Land Concessions and Land Titling in Cambodia” (2014) 7 Law and Development Review 49 .

100. GIDDENS, Anthony, The Constitution of Society (Cambridge: Polity, 1984). See discussion in MUNRO, Moira and MADIGAN, Ruth, “Privacy in the Private Sphere” (1993) 8 Housing Studies 29 ; and Saunders and Williams, supra note 48.

101. PAD, supra note 59 at 6.

102. Ibid., at 8.

103. Royal Government of Cambodia, Sub-decree 129 on Rules and Procedures on Reclassification of State Public Properties and Public Entities 2006 [Sub-decree 129], art. 18.

104. A pagoda is a temple.

105. Interviews with residents in Sras Chok, Daun Penh, September 2014.

106. Sub-decree 129, supra note 103, at art. 18.

107. Royal Government of Cambodia, Sub-Decree 143 on Economic Land Concessions 2005. See also “Map of Cambodia Land Concessions” LICADHO (2017), online: LICADHO <>.

108. See Lorenzo COTULA, Sonja VERMEULEN, Rebeca LEONARD, and James KEELEY, “Land Grab or Development Opportunity? Agricultural Investment and International Land Deals in Africa”, International Institute for Environment Development & Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Report, 2009; and Alison SCHNEIDER, “What Shall We Do Without Our Land? Land Grabs and Resistance in Rural Cambodia”, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Paper presented at the International Conference on Land Grabbing, 6–8 April 2011.

109. Biddulph, supra note 98.

110. SCHEIDEL, Arnim, “Tactics of Land Capture Through Claims of Poverty Reduction in Cambodia” (2016) 75 Geoforum 110 .

111. Lease Agreement, supra note 5. See also “Lake Inferior: The Poor Pay for a Property Boom” The Economist (29 January 2009), online: The Economist <>.

112. “Chinese Linked to Filling of Lake” Phnom Penh Post (29 January 2010), online: Phnom Penh Post <>.

113. Royal Government of Cambodia, Law on Amendment to the Law on Investment of the Kingdom of Cambodia 2004, amending the Law on Investment in the Kingdom of Cambodia 1994.

114. Land Law 2001, supra note 53 at s. 8.

115. See for example, Oldenburg and Neef, supra note 99.

116. See for example, Sub-Decree 143, supra note 107; Royal Government of Cambodia, National Strategic Development Plan 2009–2013, at 121; and generally National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018, supra note 81.

117. Supra note 14. As at May 2016 there were 286 ELCs operative in Cambodia: see records by NGO Open Development Cambodia at “Economic Land Concessions” Open Development Cambodia (2017), online: Open Development Cambodia <>.

118. World Bank, “Investigation Report—Cambodia: Land Management and Administration Project”, Inspection Panel, 2010 [Inspection Panel Report] at xvi.

119. Ibid.

120. See generally Drainage and Flooding Assessment by Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, supra note 5.

121. District Governor of Daun Penh District, Notification No. 180, August 2009.

122. Letter to World Bank Inspection Panel, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 4 September 2009.

123. UNESCR, General Comment No. 7: The Right to Adequate Housing (Art.11.1): Forced Evictions, UN Doc. E/1998/22 (1997).

124. Notification No. 180, supra note 121.

125. See discussion in UNHRC, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, UN Doc. A/HRC/27/70 (2014).

126. Interviews with former Boeung Kak Lake residents at Damnak Trayeong, 9 September 2014.

127. Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, “Resettling Phnom Penh—54 and Counting?” Teang Tnaut (2012), online: Teang Tnaut <>.

128. Interviews with former Boeung Kak Lake residents at Damnak Trayeong, 9 September 2014.

129. Inspection Panel Report, supra note 118.

130. See supra notes 108, 109.

131. Map of Cambodia Land Concessions, supra note 107.

132. Ibid. The figure of the number of persons affected is from 2003 alone; thus the number would be far greater including the years prior to that.

133. UNHCR, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, Miloon Kothari—Addendum—Mission to Cambodia, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2006/41/Add.3 (2006).

134. PIERDET, Céline, “Private Investors in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and the Reconfiguration of the City Center in Relation to the Periphery Since the 1990s” (2011) 5 Annales de Géographie 486 .

135. See supra note 8.

136. See supra note 9.

137. See supra note 8, and infra note 139.

138. COTULA, Lorenzo, “The International Political Economy of the Global Land Rush: A Critical Appraisal of Trends, Scale, Geography and Drivers” (2012) 39 Journal of Peasant Studies 649 at 669.

139. See for example, WHITE, Ben, BORRAS, Saturnino, HALL, Ruth, SCONES, Ian, and WOLFORD, Wendy, “The New Enclosures: Critical Perspectives on Corporate Land Deals” (2012) 39 Journal of Peasant Studies 619 ; Borras and Franco, supra note 89; SASSEN, Saskia, “Land Grabs Today: Feeding the Disassembling of National Territory” (2013) 10 Globalizations 25 ; LEE PELUSO, Nancy and LUND, Christian, “New Frontiers of Land Control: Introduction” (2011) 38 Journal Peasant Studies 667 ; and MARGULIS, Matias and PORTER, Tony, “Governing the Global Land Grab: Multipolarity, Ideas, and Complexity in Transnational Governance” (2013) 10 Globalizations 65 .

140. White et al., “The New Enclosures”, supra note 139.

141. Ibid.

142. See generally Margulis et al., supra note 8; and MCMICHAEL, Philip, “Land Grabbing and Security Mercantilism in International Relations” (2013) 10 Globalizations 47 .

143. See examples in Margulis et al., supra note 8, and Margulis and Porter, supra note 139.

144. Margulis et al., supra note 8.

145. Ibid. See also Peluso and Lund, supra note 139 at 667.

146. See Cotula, supra note 138, and COTULA, Lorenzo, Human Rights, Natural Resource and Investment Law in a Globalised World: Shades of Grey in the Shadow of the Law (New York: Routledge, 2012).

147. Wily, supra note 9 at 209.

148. Land Matrix, “Analytical Report of the Land Matrix II” (11 October 2016), online: Land Matrix <>.

149. Ibid.

150. White et al., supra note 139 at 620.

151. See generally EDELMAN, Marc, “Messy Hectares: Questions about the Epistemology of Land Grabbing Data” (2013) 40 Journal of Peasant Studies 485 .

152. See for example, LIBERTI, Stefano, Land Grabbing: Journeys in the New Colonialism (New York: Verso, 2013); and see also BORRAS, Saturnino, KAY, Christobal, GÓMEZ, Sergio, and WILKINSON, John, “Land Grabbing and Global Capitalist Accumulation: Key Features in Latin America” (2012) 33 Canadian Journal of Development Studies 402 .

153. Wily, supra note 9 at 209. See also BLOMLEY, Nicholas, “Law, Property, and the Geography of Violence: The Frontier, the Survey and the Grid” (2003) 93 Annals of the Association of American Geographers 121 .

154. Wily, supra note 9.

155. See SASSEN, Saskia, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).

156. Sassen, supra note 139 at 28–9.

157. Ibid.

158. McMichael, supra note 142.

159. SASSEN, Saskia, Expulsions—Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2014).

160. Sassen, supra note 139 at 25, 30.

161. Ibid., at 30.

162. Roel RAVANERA and Vanessa GORRA, “Commercial Pressures on Land in Asia: An Overview”, IFAD Contribution to ILC Collaborative Research Project on Commercial Pressures on Land, 2011.

163. Sassen, supra note 139 at 41.

164. At its 2009 summit, the G8 called for the development of an international framework for responsible investment in agriculture. See Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future, Group of Eight, 2009, at para. 113b.

165. G20 leaders at the Cannes 2011 summit and the Los Cabos 2012 summit endorsed and encouraged the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines and the PRAI (see discussion below). See Leaders Declaration, Group of Twenty, 2012, online: <>.

166. For an overview of the emergence of these rules, see BORRAS, Saturnino, FRANCO, Jennifer, and WANG, Chunyu, “The Challenge of Global Governance of Land Grabbing: Changing International Agricultural Context and Competing Political View and Strategies” (2013) 10 Globalizations 161 ; and Margulis and Porter, supra note 139 at 65. See also BORRAS, Saturnino and FRANCO, Jennifer, “From Threat to Opportunity? Problems with the Idea of a ‘Code of Conduct’ for Land-Grabbing” (2010) 13 Yale Journal of Human Rights and Development 507 .

167. World Bank, “Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment That Respects Rights, Livelihoods and Resources” (2010) [PRAI], online: World Bank <>.

168. “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security”, Committee on World Food Security and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2012. See also SEUFERT, Philip, “The FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests” (2013) 10 Globalizations 1 .

169. They were also informed by the Bank’s own 2009 study of large-scale land acquisition across twenty countries. See World Bank, “Large-Scale Acquisition of Land Rights for Agricultural or Natural Resource-based Use”, Report, 2009.

170. PRAI, supra note 167 at principle 3.

171. Ibid., at principle 4.

172. Ibid., at principle 2.

173. Ibid., at principle 7. Compare, however, discussion in World Bank, “The Practice of Responsible Investment Principles in Larger-Scale Agricultural Investments—Implications for Corporate Performance and Impact on Local Communities”, Discussion Paper, 29 April 2014.

174. For example, Voluntary Guidelines, supra note 168 at general principle 3.1(4).

175. UNHRC, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter—Addendum—Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and Leases: A Set of Minimum Principles and Measures to Address the Human Rights Challenge”, UN Doc. A/HRC/13/33/Ad.2 (2009).

176. “Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement: Annex I of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living”, UN Doc. A/HRC/4/18/annex (2007).

177. Tirana Declaration, 26 May 2011, drafted at the international conference on “Securing Land Access for the Poor in Times of Intensified Natural Resources Competition”, 24–26 May 2011.

178. Minimum Principles, supra note 175 at 2.

179. See further POGGE, Thomas, “Recognized and Violated by International Law: The Human Rights of the Global Poor” (2005) 18 Leiden Journal of International Law 717 .

180. For example, see NIELSEN, Kenneth and NILSEN, Alf, “Law Struggles and Hegemonic Processes in Neoliberal India: Gramscian Reflections on Land Acquisition Legislation” (2015) 12 Globalizations 203 .

181. See generally ANGHIE, Antony, CHIMNI, Bhupinder, MICKELSON, Karin, and OKAFOR, Obiora, The Third World and International Order: Law, Politics and Globalization (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2003).

182. KINGSBURY, Benedict, “Operational Policies of International Institutions as Part of the Law-making Process: The World Bank and Indigenous Peoples” in Guy GOODWIN-GILL and Stefan TALMON, eds., The Reality of International Law: Essays in Honour of Ian Brownlie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), at 323342 . See also SANTOS, Alvaro, “The World Bank’s Uses of the ‘Rule of Law’ Promise in Economic Development” in David TRUBEK and Alvaro SANTOS, eds., The New Law and Economic Development: A Critical Appraisal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), at 253300 .

183. Inspection Panel Report, supra note 118.

184. See US Congress, 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, at s. 7043(c)(5); and Joint Civil Society, “US Congress Passes Law Demanding Redress for Boeung Kak Community, Pressures World Bank to Take Action”, Media Statement,16 January 2012.

185. See for example, HOOKS, Bell, “Homeplace: A Site of Resistance” in Bell HOOKS, Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (New York: Southend Press, 1990); Honig, supra note 23; and Young, supra note 23.

186. See in particular, HALL, Ruth, EDELMAN, Marc, BORRAS, Saturnino, SCOONES, Ian, WHITE, Ben, and WOLFORD, Wendy, “Resistance, Acquiescence or Incorporation? An Introduction to Land Grabbing and Political Reactions ‘from Below’” (2015) 42 Journal of Peasant Studies 467 , and papers in that volume.

187. Bhabha, supra note 52 at 11.

188. See further Hall et al., supra note 186.

189. The documentary Even A Bird Needs A Nest (Divali Films 2012), was made about a Boeung Kak Lake resident and activist, tracing their campaign against evictions at the lake. See also supra note 1.

190. See further DARIAN-SMITH, Eve, Laws and Societies in Global Contexts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

* Lecturer, Centre for Law and Social Justice, School of Law, University of Leeds. I am grateful to Boeung Kak Lake residents, the Housing Rights Task Force in Phnom Penh, Susan Marks, Linda Mulcahy, Nehal Bhuta, and Joseph Spooner for assistance and comments on this paper. The paper was also enriched by discussions with my colleagues on the Max Weber Postdoctoral Programme, European University Institute, Florence, 2016-17.

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Asian Journal of International Law
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  • EISSN: 2044-2521
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