Globalization has significantly affected the ways in which communities in many parts of the world interact with and access land and resources – from changing farming patterns due to international trade agreements, to collective tenure and customary rights in landscapes that are simultaneously the location of large-scale resource extraction projects. At the same time, developments in the field of human rights and environmental protection provide for the recognition of communities’ rights to ancestral and communal lands, as well as the free, prior and informed consent of communities in order to conduct activities on such lands (e.g. UNDRIP). Yet the abstract notion of ‘property’ rights in international investment law (land as commercial asset) often collides with the ‘lived-in’ property rights of people and communities on the ground.
Amy’s project will investigate how international law facilitates spatial justice and injustice through its conceptualization of property rights. Her project will scrutinize the concept, definition and interpretation of property rights across multiple fields of international law – examining not only the international human rights, environmental and cultural heritage law frameworks, but also specific areas of international economic law, including investment, that converge and diverge with spatial justice in the realm of land-based projects and policies. Lastly, the project will also include a strong conceptual component, by ascertaining to what extent a reconceptualization of property can contribute to transforming international law from ‘tool of empire’ to vehicle for change.