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Land Rights at the Time of Global Production: Leveraging Multi-Spatiality and ‘Legal Chokeholds’


This article utilizes the struggles for land rights associated to two sugar cane investments in Cambodia to reflect on the interactions between the multi-territoriality of supply chain capitalism and the multiplication of local spaces of legal intervention. With a combination of legal institutionalism, critical geography and value chains analysis, the article engages with value chains as the new space and form of the global system of production and looks at the theoretical and practical implications that derive from delocalization, outsourcing and the establishment of transnational networks that cut across boundaries and jurisdictions. After discussing the human rights impact of large-scale sugar production in the Koh-Kong region, the article introduces a critical legal chain approach to unpack and make visible the material and legal threads that connect Cambodia with multiple geographies around the world. In its last part, it utilizes the multi-territorial character of production to map its complexity and introduce the notion of ‘legal chokeholds’. These are legal structures and spaces of intervention that can be leveraged by human rights scholars, activists and other actors interested in re-defining the way in which rights, bargaining power and value are distributed through the chain of production. The violations and possible defence of the land rights that occurred in Cambodia are thus presented as output of non-linear interactions between legal and non-legal elements that operate at a distance, often unaware of each other.

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University of Warwick Law School.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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Christophe Golay and Irene Biglino , ‘Human Rights Responses to Land Grabbing: a right to food perspective’ (2013) 34 Third World Quarterly 16301650

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Gary Gereffi , John Humphrey and Timothy Sturgeon , ‘The governance of global value chains’, (2005) 12:1 Review of International Political Economy, 78104

Duncan Kennedy , ‘The Critique of Rights in Critical Legal Studies’, in Brown and Halley (eds) Left Legalism/Left Critique (Duke University Press, 2002)

Thomas Princen , ‘The shading and distancing of commerce: When internalization is not enough’ (1997), 20 Ecological Economics 235253

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Joonkoo Lee , Gary Gereffi and Janet Beauvais , ‘Global value chains and agrifood standards: challenges and possibilities for smallholders in developing countries’ (2010) 109 Proceeding of the National Academy of Science USA 1232612331

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Business and Human Rights Journal
  • ISSN: 2057-0198
  • EISSN: 2057-0201
  • URL: /core/journals/business-and-human-rights-journal
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