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Tesi etd-01012021-115443

Type of thesis
Dottorato
Author
LENI, ERICA
URN
etd-01012021-115443
Title
Small Farmers and the Land Rights-Agroecology Nexus - The Role of International Soft Law in Myanmar Land Tenure
Scientific disciplinary sector
IUS/03
Course
Istituto di Diritto, Politica e Sviluppo - PHD IN HUMAN RIGHTS AND GLOBAL POLITICS: LEGAL, PHILOSOPHICAL, AND ECONOMIC CHALLENGES
Committee
relatore Prof.ssa CRISTIANI, ELOISA
Membro Prof.ssa HTUN, YEE
Membro Prof. COLLIGNON, STEFAN
Membro Prof.ssa ALABRESE, MARIAGRAZIA
Keywords
  • agroecology
  • land rights
  • land rights-agroecology nexus
  • Myanmar
  • rights of peasants
  • small farmers empowerment
  • soft law
  • VGGT
Exam session start date
14/07/2021;
Availability
parziale
Abstract
The thesis analyzes the linkages between the transition from large-scale industrial agriculture to agroecological paradigms and one of its most critical obstacles, namely the lack of land rights. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial and food price crisis, a great deal of legal analyses concentrated on the phenomenon of land grabbing and its implications on agriculture and rural communities. However, the conceptual connection between land rights with the alternative model of development based on agroecology is still an under researched field of law. The dissertation considers this nexus through the point of view of soft law and specifically the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT), which currently represent the highest international standard on tenure issues. The purpose is to examine what are the potentials and limitations of this not-binding framework to support agroecology. The fundamental research question is to what extent international soft law instruments on land tenure, apart from aiming to secure small farmers&#39; land rights, can also promote agroecological paradigms.<br>The topic is addressed through the case study of Myanmar. The employment of the VGGT in this country constitutes their most advanced application in the Mekong Region. After the FAO officially introduced the Guidelines in Myanmar in 2013, civil society organizations integrated them at the core of their advocacy strategies in the land reform process. The document was the main reference of the 2016 National Land Use Policy (NLUP) and before the coup d&#39;état of February 1, 2021 it was still on the table of negotiations as the government had started the process to translate this policy into a National Land Law. <br>Following an introductory part, the Second Chapter of the study exposes the international theoretical framework and the core concepts, including those of small farmers and the renewed attention towards this category; the global debate on land rights; agroecology, its nexus with land tenure and the emergence of a legal debate; the soft law character of the main legal instruments on these topics with a focus on the Guidelines. The Third Chapter connects the exposed international framework to the context of Myanmar. This part presents an overview of the country and describes the historical evolution of the land and agricultural framework from the British rule to the present day. It then considers the most significant developments in the political, economic and social transition triggered by the “Roadmap to Discipline-flourishing Democracy”, including in the human rights field, and their impact on small farmers. The section concludes with a discussion on the current situation and the emergence of agroecology through grassroots organizations. These first chapters show the major gap between international standards and the domestic reality. The remaining part tries to bridge these two dimensions by exploring in the VGGT possible linkages between land rights and agroecology. The Fourth Chapter is dedicated to a general analysis on the land rights-agroecology nexus in the Myanmar national transition and the possible functions of the VGGT and the NLUP for scaling up agroecology as an alternative development paradigm. The Fifth Chapter considers the more specific relationship between agroecology and customary land tenure, and in particular the case of the Karen National Union and its Land Policy (KNU Land Policy). Both the Fourth and Fifth Chapters focus on two type of entry points in the VGGT, the NLUP and the KNU Land Policy to protect and promote agroecology. One entry point consists of looking at the explicit references to agroecological principles in the texts. Given that land and agroecological movements are deeply connected politically, the second entry point is envisaged in the extending of the land movements’ legitimacy and transformative strength underpinning the endorsement of the three documents to the advocacy for agroecology. Against this background, the thesis concludes that soft law represents a valuable instrument to promote agroecological paradigms and to gradually narrow the gap between international and domestic standards both at the national level in Myanmar and in the Karen National Union-controlled territory. The Sixth Chapter contains general reflections and lessons learnt from this case study that can find a broader application also in other contexts. This part fundamentally illustrates the reasons why international soft law instruments on land tenure, in addition to securing small farmers’ land rights, have a significant potential to promote agroecological paradigms.<br>
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