This yearbook chapter discusses the link between international investment law and commercial pressures on the world’s natural resources. It argues that changes in legal frameworks are redefining control over natural resources, and facilitating transitions toward more commercialised land relations.
As pressures on resources increase, many national laws undermine the rights of people impacted by investments. If not properly thought through, international treaties to protect foreign investment could compound shortcomings of local and national governance. Addressing these issues requires a holistic understanding of the interplay of national and international law. Ongoing debates about reforming the investment treaty regime need to consider the on-the-ground reality of investment processes in low and middle-income countries. At the same time, only by tackling the international dimensions will it be possible to secure land rights at the grassroots.