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Earth Institute Research Projects

Land Investments and Human Rights

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Unit Affiliation: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI)

Unknown start date - Ongoing
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DESCRIPTION: When not designed or implemented carefully, large-scale investment in agriculture can pose risks related to human rights and land rights. These risks are most acutely felt by rights-holders, but they can also have reputational, financial, or other implications for governments and investors. CCSI continues to build its work in this area, examining the ways in which rights might be affected by agricultural investments, and exploring options for securing stronger rights protections—and fewer rights-related risks—in their context. CCSI also focuses in particular on the role that home states can play in advancing more rights compliant outward agricultural investment.

OUTCOMES: CCSI’s work on this issue area to date includes:

Presentations and trainings on human rights and agricultural investments, including sessions tailored for and presented to institutional investors, commercial banks, impact investors, academics, and students, as well as for multi-stakeholder audiences comprised of government representatives, civil society representatives, and others.
An FDI Perspective, entitled “Land Investments and Human Rights: How Home Countries Can Do More”
An article written by Kaitlin Cordes and Anna Bulman published in the Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs, entitled “Corporate Agricultural Investment and the Right to Food: Addressing Disparate Protections and Promoting Rights-Consistent Outcomes”
A forthcoming chapter on “Agricultural Investments and Human Rights” to be included in a Research Handbook on Human Rights and Investments
An entry written by Claire Debucquois and Kaitlin Cordes on “Extraterritorial Obligations of States and the Right to Food” in the Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (2014)
Various memos and submissions on the topic, including, for example: a memo to the UK Government on using the UK National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights to address risks arising from agricultural investments; a submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on developing disclosure requirements to mitigate land tenure risks; a submission to the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) on supporting greater redress for harm in the context of project abandonment or failure; a submission to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, regarding its draft General Comment on “State obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Context of Business Activities,” on state obligations as they relate to international investment agreements, extraterritoriality, and corruption.