Brazil a target of global land grab

In an earlier post, information was provided about the growing trend in land acquisitions by global economic actors (see here, in Portuguese). Is there a fair gobal law governing this global “land grab” process? The straighforward answer is: no.

Readers will centainly be interested in a recent report on the subject (click here via The Guardian here). In it, Brazil, India, Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Zambia and Sudan appear as the top 10 “target countries”.

In Brazilian law schools the global landgrab is still by and large a nonissue. More attention should be given by law professors and students to this massive change in land ownership and its social, environmental, economic and geopolitical implications. The subject provides an example of what should be focused by global legal education (see also here).

[Update 11-may-2012: FAO on global land grab – new voluntary guidelines for administration of land, fisheries and forests rights – see here]

[Update 04-oct.-2012: The Independent: “World Bank ‘has aided land grabs'” — see here]

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Terras do Brasil na mira do loteamento global

Já foi indicado neste blog que estão surgindo novos “mercados” de terras agrícolas, com gigantescas áreas compradas por atores da economia global (ver aqui). Será que existe um direito global que promova a justiça econômica com relação a estas práticas recentes? A resposta é claramente: não.

O(a)s leitore(a)s sem dúvida se interessarão pelo relatório sobre o assunto, recentemtente publicado e disponível aqui (via The Guardian aqui). Neste relatório, Brasil, Índia, Congo, Indonésia, Malásia, Madagascar, Etiópia, Filipinas, Zambia e Sudão aparecem como os dez países mais atingidos pelo processo globalmente.

Nas escolas de direito brasileiras, o assunto, em geral, não tem recebido a atenção que merece. Mais pesquisas jurídicas, debates e análises sobre a temática — que tem importantes consequências sociais, econômicas e geopolíticas — poderiam e deveriam ser fomentados pelas escolas de direito no Brasil e em outros países. Esta seria uma temática de um ensino jurídico global (ver também aqui).


7 Responses to Brazil a target of global land grab

  1. […] Excerpt from: Brazil a target of global landgrab « Direito – Economia – Sociedade […]


  2. […] Go here to see the original: Brazil a target of global landgrab « Direito – Economia – Sociedade […]


  3. Matthias Sant'Ana says:

    Dear Professor Faro,

    There are a number of non-binding international standards emerging, even if the current tendency for large-scale land-acquisition isn’t, so far, regulated at the global level.

    I’d call your attention to the worldbank/FAO/et al Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure:

    And to the UN SR on the Right to Food:

    Besides this one must analyze whether, and to what extent, land acquisition and leases are considered to be ‘investment’ under bilateral or regional investment agreements, and under ICSID convention Article 25.

    This is definitely an area in which there is tremendous amount of legal work to do, and I think that law schools — not only in Brazil, but in general — are pretty much behind the curve on the issue.

    Always a pleasure to read you.


    • marcusfaro says:

      Dear Matthias,
      Thank you for your feedback. As always, you are able to provide a thoughtful commentary.
      Let me just add this. Yes, as you indicate, there are international law materials that are in principle relevant to the issue raised in the post. However, I believe these materials (as many others) do not represent the “living law”. They are rather the law in the books of certain organizations and in the minds of certain (sometimes well-intended) people. What I mean is this: if only the legal materials on human rights produced by the UN were living law, the world would certainly be much diffrent from what it actually is. It seems to me that in the UN system there are very few exceptions to what I just indicated. One major exception, ironically, is the “living law” that emanates from the Security Council…
      But, of course, none of this should fall upon us as an unberable weight, that crushes our hopes of building a better future.


      • Matthias Sant'Ana says:

        Dear Professor,
        I agree with your assessment of the ‘weak’ status of the sources I provided. The only potentially binding sources that currently regulate the matter are HR treaties that protect property (ECHR, Protocol 1; IACHR) and bilateral and multilateral investment agreements. For the latter, presumed breaches could be very costly for states.
        Then one could also look at indirect transnational regulation via, for instance, credit and insurance regulations an policy. It can make a world of difference whether international financial institutions give easy credit, or insurance, for landgrabs or not. This would be a market mechanism, rather than a typical command-and-control form of governance, but it might prove to be more effective.


  4. Julio Borges says:

    Caro Professor Marcus Faro,

    Sobre esse tema, a AGU publicou recente parecer (, alterando antiga interpretação jurídica do governo brasileiro, para restringir a aquisição de terras rurais por estrangeiros. Esse parecer foi aprovado pelo Presidente Lula e se tornou obrigatório para toda a Administração Pública Federal.

    Recorrendo a tradicionais critérios de análise jurídica em nosso país, a conclusão do parecer (impedimento de aquisição de terras rurais por empresas brasileiras controladas por estrangeiros) foi construída a partir de argumentos de ordem abstrata, destituídos de dados empíricos capazes de subsidiar a sua conclusão, ou mesmo de alguma espécie de avaliação em torno da fruição de direitos humanos (sobretudo os direitos à alimentação e à moradia), elementos para os quais poderia contribuir a AJPE.


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