Legal empowerment in investment projects
Where local resource rights are weak, investment projects may undermine the ability of local groups to access the resources on which they depend. Weakness of local resource rights may also undermine the position of local resource users in their negotiations with incoming investors; and therefore limit their ability to benefit from investment projects through negotiated benefit-sharing arrangements.
Investment contracts and deals between states and investors raise complex legal issues and are little known outside the small circle of specialists involved in their negotiation. But they have far-reaching implications for the lives of many people. Local capacity to monitor government negotiations with large-scale investors is key to establishing deals that maximise local benefits and minimise costs for the local population.
In-country work is now being piloted in Senegal, Ghana, Mozambique and Mali. This involves:
- identifying innovative legal tools to secure local resource rights, developing ways to sharpen these tools, and engaging with policy processes to change the legal framework as needed.
- supporting project partners engagement in policy processes - for instance, in Mozambique, to strengthen the procedural safeguards for participation of local groups in consultation processes
- designing, testing and implementing legal literacy training and other tools. In Senegal, for instance, we held a meeting with two local communities to assess local demand for para-legal training.
Key findings of a scoping study for this project can be found in Legal empowerment for local resource control: Securing local resource rights within foreign investment projects.
For a scoping paper on foreign investment contracts and sustainable development, read: Lifting the lid on foreign investment contracts: The real deal for sustainable development.
Building on these studies, a set of papers have been produced in the Sustainable Markets Investment Briefing series to discuss issues raised by legal arrangements for the protection of foreign investment. A list of these briefings is provided below: