Brics Grab African Land And Sovereignty


Although there are many different analyses, one general approach to Brics relationships with the South asserts that they are distinguishable from traditional Northern donors (as opposed to investors which will be discussed below). line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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In particular, it is often claimed that South-South development cooperation does not attach policy conditionalities, provides assistance based on a win-win paradigm, and places emphasis on how to ensure economic sustainability of the receiving country. and it is this local reality that has to be studied in order to fully grasp its effects.lack of a central driving region is striking. What we see is the coexistence of actors (public, private and mixed) from the North, Gulf States, emerging economies – including Brics – and, in some cases, from Low Income Countries themselves. On average, investors’ countries have a GDP per capita (four times higher than target countries) and this difference is even higher when we exclude countries that are both the origin and target of investment flows. normal”>Brics land grabs in Africa

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Country and Total Land

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Total Land and Regional Area

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Target Countries

 
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Brazil

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>28,000 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Eastern Africa 28,000 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”> Mozambique, Ethiopia

 
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>India

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>1,924,509 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Central Africa: 15,000 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Northern Africa: 8,020 ha

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line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>China

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>1,140,683 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Central Africa: 10,000 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>South America: 348,972 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Western Africa: 26,000 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Cambodia, China, Sudan, Lao, Philippines, India, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe

 
line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>South Africa

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>1,416,411 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>Central Africa 340,000 ha

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif"”>South America 55,794 ha

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normal”>except Russia, which remains at the margin of the rush probably due to the amount of available land) demonstrating that land grabbing is happening not only from the traditional core to the peripheries, but also transversally on the geopolitical map of the world. There are zones of interest for each country, with a predilection toward neighbouring countries (especially in the case of Brazil, South Africa and China) and certain areas of the African continent depending on geographical proximity or linguistic ties.

Brics investors target low-income countries, while a recent report released by Oxfam has underlined the close relationship between weak internal governance and land grabbing. line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Angola, Benin, Congo and Ethiopia. line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Finally, according to the available data, China is the most active investor, with more than five million hectares of land accessed in all the continents, with a stronger presence in Southern Asia, line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Oceania and South America, rather than in Africa. line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Brazilian rhetoric – the ‘dawn of a new economic era between Africa and Brazil’ line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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– is belied by President Dilma’s recently-concluded agreement with Mozambique and Japan to develop a 14 million hectares agricultural project in the north of Mozambique.to reduce access to Brazilian land by foreign investors, while the ongoing accumulation of Russian land is the consequence of the privatization that took place in the 1990s.

The role of the South African in sustaining investments in land abroad is illustrative. Given that the crops produced abroad by South African investors are generally sold on the global market rather than imported back to South Africa, the efforts undertaken by the government primarily concern international trade, rather than the creation of legal incentives to guarantee food security through productive delocalization.

Minister of Agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced in 2010 a fund of six billion South African Rand (ZAR) (or about 680 million US dollars) for supporting South African farmers, half of which would be spent on projects beyond South Africa’s borders. line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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This combination of policies and preferences has significantly affected the environmental and social equilibrium of vast tracts of the country, where it is estimated that 40-50 per cent of the vegetation has been destroyed. line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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Paradoxically, internal pressure against deforestation is significantly moving the attention of the government and of the investors toward peripheral countries.

Land grabbing has been facilitated by the expansion of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) which amplify economic and power asymmetries. The surge in BITs represents the switch from the universal multilateralism of the past to a more fragmented bilateralism. Investments are free to move, and take advantage of their mobility to force countries into a fierce competition whose outcome is a subordination of the collectivity to the interests and economic needs of the investor.

The number of BITs is exploding and the Brics are increasingly part of this trend. Between 1959 and 1991, over 400 BITs were signed, a figure that rose to 2600 by mid-2008, while BIT-like provisions have been written into a growing number of broader free trade agreements (FTAs). line-height:115%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
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According to the majority of the constitutions of African nations, non-titled land belongs to the public, the nation or the state, i.e. the institutionalized authority, which has the duty to manage but can never fully dispose of it. The occupation of the land by people without any official title is thus admitted but not legally recognized, and the state has the legitimate power to dispose of its natural resources.

Whenever it concludes an investment contract that defines occupied land as void and available, the state is therefore looking at the legal reality, leaving aside the evidence on the ground: acting as the owner of the land, and by maximizing its power and prerogatives, the state constructs a functional legal reality and has the coercive power to legitimately enforce it. Whoever does not respect the new legal canon defined into the contract is immediately wiped out from the sphere of legality, becoming illegal. Peasants who do not treat nature as an exploitable source, farmers who practice shifting cultivation, nomadic pastoralism or hunting and gathering, suddenly become legally non-existent or, even worse, outlaws. line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-style:italic”>Moreover, in order to fully develop large-scale projects, investors frequently have to rely on massive inputs, including water which is frequently diverted from its natural course and utilized for their production. Wherever large-scale agriculture is adopted, water is crucial and its diversion can seldom be achieved in a way that is entirely consistent with the needs and survival of small-scale peasantry.

Interception, diversion or storage of water creates downstream effects or may place demands on upstream land users. Investment contracts are the legal instrument that legitimizes the appropriation of water for industrial needs and the codification of a power asymmetry that is detrimental to people’s fundamental rights.

In sum, my intention has been to look at whether the Brics rhetorics of ‘respect of national sovereignty’ and the ‘promotion of solidarity’Tomaso Ferrando is a PhD candidate from Sciences Po Law School in Paris, a former Visiting Researcher at the University of Cape Town Public Law Department, and a Visiting Researcher in Commercial Law at the University of Sao Paulo.

 

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