Questioning the regulatory approach to large-scale agricultural land transfers in Ethiopia : a legal pluralistic perspectiveQuestioning the regulatory approach to large-scale agricultural land transfers in Ethiopia : a legal pluralistic perspective
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Development processes, actors and policies
Law and development review. - -
(2014), p. 1-31
University of Antwerp
Until now, most policy recommendations put forward to deal with the possible negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions are either directed towards the legal recognition and formalization of land rights in order to secure the rights of historical land holders or the design and implementation of voluntary guidelines and codes of conduct that promote positive development outcomes of large-scale land investments. This paper argues that these types of recommendations tend to depoliticize the debate around access to land and natural resources, whether at local, national and international levels. This paper looks to bring this political dimension back by proposing an analytical framework in line with the legal pluralist tradition. From a legal pluralistic analysis of the process of land deals in Ethiopia, this paper finds out that socio-cultural identity and power structures, rather than market and regulatory failure alone, play a fundamental role in redirecting negotiations and determining losers and winners from such deals. With the above finding, this paper finally suggests that blueprint international standards or investment regulatory measures cannot be used as a panacea and that solutions need to be more profound than such conventional approach.