Large-Scale Land Acquisitions

Focus on South-East Asia


Large-scale land acquisitions, or ‘land grabbing’, has become a key research topic among scholars interested in agrarian change, development, and the environment. The term ‘land acquisitions’ refers to a highly contested process in terms of governance and impacts on livelihoods and human rights. This book focuses on South-East Asia. A series of thematic and in-depth case studies put ‘land grabbing’ into specific historical and institutional contexts. The volume also offers a human rights analysis of the phenomenon, examining the potential and limits of human rights mechanisms aimed at preventing and mitigating land grabs' negative consequences.
Open Access


Open Access

Biographical Note

Christophe Gironde is a political economist who works as a lecturer in development studies and researcher at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. His research interests are agrarian change, sustainable livelihoods and human development, in particular in continental South-East Asia.

Christophe Golay is research fellow and coordinator of the Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He is also a lecturer at the Geneva Centre for Research and Education in Humanitarian Action.

Peter Messerli is Director of the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), at the University of Bern. He is a human geographer who focuses on human–environmental systems in developing countries and is hence specifically interested in processes of rural transformation where land decisions are increasingly driven by globalised and distant decision-making processes.

Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
Notes on Contributors
Setting the Scene: History, State and Law
1 – Large-Scale Land Acquisitions: A Historical Perspective
Laurence Roudart and Marcel Mazoyer
2 – States as Actors in International Agro-Investments
Martin Keulertz and Eckart Woertz
3 – The Role of Property Rights in the Debate on Large-Scale Land Acquisitions
Olivier De Schutter
Land Dynamics and Livelihoods in South-East Asia
4 – The Impact of Larger-Scale Agricultural Investments on Communities in South-East Asia: A First Assessment
James Zhan, Hafiz Mirza, and William Speller
5 – Sweet and Bitter: Trajectories of Sugar Cane Investments in Northern Luzon, the Philippines, and Aceh, Indonesia, 2006–13
Mohamad Shohibuddin, Maria Lisa Alano, and Gerben Nooteboom
6 – Marginal Land or Marginal People? Analysing Patterns and Processes of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in South-East Asia
Peter Messerli, Amaury Peeters, Oliver Schoenweger, Vong Nanhthavong, and Andreas Heinimann
7 – From Lagging Behind to Losing Ground: Cambodian and Laotian Household Economy and Large-Scale Land Acquisitions
Christophe Gironde and Gilda Senties Portilla
8 – ‘Better-Practice’ Concessions? Lessons from Cambodia’s Leopard-Skin Landscape
Michael B. Dwyer, Emily Polack and Sokbunthoeun So
Human Rights and Large-Scale Land Acquisitions
9 – Identifying and Monitoring Human Rights Violations Associated with Large-Scale Land Acquisitions: A Focus on United Nations Mechanisms and South-East Asia
Christophe Golay
10 – Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Cambodia: Where Do (Human Rights) Law and Practice Meet?
Ioana Cismas and Patricia Paramita
11 – Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Livelihoods and Human Rights in South-East Asia
Christophe Gironde and Christophe Golay


Professionals interested in in agrarian change, development and the environment from academia, international and bilateral cooperation agencies, NGOs, consultancies, foundations.


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