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Dr. Amy Strecker receives Global Interactions BREED Grant

Dr Amy Strecker (Heritage Dept., Faculty of Archaeology) has recently been awarded a LGI BREED grant to develop her project on property and spatial justice in international law. Building on her previous research into landscape protection from cultural heritage, environmental and human rights perspectives (Landscape Protection in International Law), Amy will combine legal analysis with perspectives from cultural geography to scrutinize the use and abuse of property rights in international law.

Globalization has significantly impacted 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, normative developments in the field of cultural heritage, 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 (land as the basis for social, cultural and ecological life). Property has long been and remains an important issue in international legal ordering (Cotula 2017, 234). Yet despite its centrality, its impact on people-place relations remains under-examined.

This project will scrutinize the concept, definition and interpretation of property rights in international law as they relate to land. It will not only examine the international human rights, cultural heritage and environmental 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.

Amy is working on developing this into a Vidi and ERC (StG) proposal in autumn 2018 and is grateful to Leiden Global Interactions for giving her the time to work on her project.

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