Advancing Land Rights

Protecting rights to land and resources, and advancing sustainable investments, are intricately related. Secure rights to property and resources support responsible investment in land; at the same time, responsible approaches to investment are necessary to ensure that legitimate tenure rights are respected. Advancing land rights are thus a crucial step to ensure that investments have positive rather than negative impacts for local communities. CCSI undertakes strategic activities to influence existing international legal frameworks and agendas to strengthen land rights protections, particularly for the most vulnerable of land users, and to support new actors and sectors in focusing on land rights. This work has included:

  • Hosting a consultation for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding its draft General Comment on land and economic, social and cultural rights. This consultation, held at Columbia University in October 2017, brought together representatives from indigenous communities, social movements and civil society, and the private sector to provide input for the General Comment’s Rapporteurs on how land relates to rights under the Covenant. Once adopted, the General Comment will be the first authoritative interpretation of a legally binding human rights treaty that focuses on the range of linkages between land and human rights, and States’ corresponding duties.
  • Helping to advance land rights within the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, including through: an op-ed with Jeffrey Sachs on the need for a land rights indicator; a webinar on the future of land rights indicators for the SDGs, co-organized with a number of other groups; a blog series, co-hosted with the Land Portal Foundation, on land-related SDGs; technical support to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on land rights issues; and serving as the host institution for the SDSN’s Thematic Network 10 on Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources.
  • Pushing for greater attention to land rights issues in the context of good governance initiatives for the extractive industries. This includes: co-hosting an event in November 2017 with Resource Equity on land rights, gender, and extractives; and undertaking research in partnership with IIED examining the applicability of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security to the extractives context.
  • Researching how international investment law can elevate the property rights of investors, and can occasionally create new property rights of investors, to the detriment of other land users.
  • Researching and supporting dialogue at the intersection of land rights and the climate crisis, including at a conference in 2017 focused on resource investments and climate change and a co-organized conference in 2019 on the climate crisis, global land use and human rights.