Natural Resources Grabbing: An International Law Perspective


The growing demand for natural resources has triggered a “race” to their exploitation and possession, especially in developing countries. Most desired are water, land, forests, raw materials (oil, gas, mineral and precious stones), fisheries and genetic resources. Emerging economies, Western states, multinational corporations and international financial institutions have become the biggest “buyers” in a race that on one hand strengthens economies and creates investment opportunities and on the other threatens local communities and environmental protection.

Natural Resources Grabbing: An International Law Perspective aims at filling a gap in the legal literature by addressing the adverse effects that large-scale investments in natural resources may pose to fundamental human rights and the protection of the environment.

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Biographical Note

Francesca Romanin Jacur, PhD (Milan), is Adjunct Professor of International Environmental Law at the University of Milan, Italy. She is the author of The Dynamics of Multilateral Environmental Agreements: Institutional Architectures and Law-making Processes (2013) and several articles in public international law.

Angelica Bonfanti, PhD (Milan), is Associate Professor of International Law at the University of Milan, Italy. She is the author of Imprese multinazionali, diritti umani e ambiente: profili di diritto internazionale pubblico e privato (2012) and several articles in public and private international law.

Francesco Seatzu, PhD (Nottingham) is Full Professor in International and EU Law at the University of Cagliari, Italy. He has published monographs and many articles in public, private international and European Law, including The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The Law, Process and Practice (with M. Odello, 2012), The World Bank Inspection Panel (2007), and Insurance in Private International Law: A European Perspective (2003).

Table of contents

Introduction (F. Romanin Jacur, A. Bonfanti, F. Seatzu)

PART I: Mapping the Field
1. The Practice of Land Grabbing and Its Compatibility with the Exercise of Territorial Sovereignty (Federica Violi)
2. Resources Grabbing and Human Rights: Building a Triangular Relationship Between States, Indigenous Peoples and Corporations (Nadia Bernaz and Jérémie Gilbert)

PART II: The Human Rights Context
3. Who is Entitled to Cultivate the Land? Sovereignty, Land Resources and Foreign Investments in Agriculture in International Law (Jochen Von Bernstorff)
4. Land Grabbing and International Human Rights: The Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Elisa Ruozzi)
5. Water Grabbing and Water Rights: Indigenous ‘Sovereignty’ v. State Sovereignty? (M. Bordignon, R. Greco, G. Lepore)
6. The Right to Water and Access to Water Resources in the European Development Policy (Marco Borraccetti)

PART III: The Environmental Context
7. Tackling the Grabbing of Genetic Resources and of Associated Traditional Knowledge Trough the Nagoya Protocol (Francesca Romanin Jacur)
8. Natural Resources Grabbing: The Case of Tropical Forests and REDD+ (Annalisa Savaresi)
9. International Land Investments or the Environment Put Up for Auction: the Case of the Niger Basin (Komlan Sangbana)
10. The European Integration and the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive: A Suitable Framework for the Implementation of the Sustainability Criteria for Biofuels Production in Third-States? (Federico Esu and Solenne Avet)

PART IV: The Investment Context
11. Integrating Human Rights into the Extractive Industries: How Investment Contracts Can Achieve Protection (Anil Ylmaz and Tara Van Ho)
12. The Role of International Environmental Principles in Investment Treaty Arbitration: Precautionary and Polluter Pays Principles and Partial Compensation (Tomoko Ishikawa)
13. Exploration and Extraction of Natural Resources: MIGA’s Role in the Promotion of Foreign Investments in Developing Countries (Inesa Stolper)
14. On the World Bank’s Efforts in Defence of the Human Right to Land (Francesco Seatzu)

PART V: The WTO Context
15. The WTO Members’ Right to Protect Animals in International Trade: A TBT Perspective (Angelica Bonfanti)
16. Water Resources’ Exploitation and Trade Flows: The Impact of International Trade Law (Julinda Beqiraj)
17. Energy Export Restrictions in the WTO Between Resources Nationalism and Sustainable Development (Ilaria Espa)

PART VI: Conflicts and Crimes
18. On the Financing of Civil Wars through Natural Resources: Is there a Duty of Vigilance for Third States on the Activities of Trans-national Corporations? (Marco Pertile)
19. Breaking the ‘Resource Curse’: Prosecuting Pillage of Natural Resources (Garima Tiwari)

Conclusion (A. Bonfanti, F. Romanin Jacur, F. Seatzu)



All interested in international law, natural resources management abd international relations.

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