Prof. Koen De Feyter (LDRN steering committee) elected to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development

The United Nations Human Rights Council decided on 27 September 2019 to create an Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development (EMRDT),  “a subsidiary expert mechanism to provide the Council with thematic expertise on the right to development in searching for, identifying and sharing best practices with Member States and to promote the implementation of the right to development worldwide” (HRC Resolution 42/23).

The Council elected five independent experts on a geographical basis for a three-year period, who may be re-elected for one additional period.  The experts appointed are:  Armando De Negri, Bonny Ibhawoh, Mihir Kanade, Klentiana Mahmutaj and LDRN steering committee member Koen De Feyter.

The EMRDT officially commenced its first term on 1 May 2020. It will meet once annually for three days in Geneva and once annually for three days in New York, in a combination of open and private meetings.  The open meetings are open to participation by States, United Nations mechanisms, bodies and specialized agencies, funds and programmes, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and mechanisms in the field of human rights, national human rights institutions and other relevant national bodies, academics and experts on development issues, and nongovernmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council

Koen De Feyter is currently a member of the Steering Committee of the Law and Development Research Network and the Spokesperson of the Law and Development Research group at the University of Antwerp.

New research report: Dr. Carolien Jacobs & Bernardo Almeida, “Land and climate change: Rights and environmental displacement in Mozambique” (Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, 2020)

Dr. Carolien Jacobs & Bernardo Almeida, Land and climate change: Rights and environmental displacement in Mozambique, Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, Leiden, The Netherlands, 2020

Using the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique as a case study, this socio-legal research report aims to provide a better understanding of how the dynamics of environmental displacement impact land rights and conflict, and the role of international and national legal frameworks in addressing land-related problems caused by this displacement.

Mozambique is a country prone to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones – risks which are increasing with climate change. Resettlement is the major solution undertaken by the government to reduce the number of people living in high-risk areas. But how does resettlement take place? Are people satisfied with their new places of living? Are they compensated for their loss of property and livelihoods? And what about the people who were already using the land allocated for resettlement?

This report, based on both a desk study and empirical research in Mozambique, discusses these questions and shows the realities on the ground. The authors argue that:

  • Gaps in legal protection frameworks should be addressed, especially in relation to expropriation processes;
  • People’s longer-term needs in displacement should be addressed to ensure that resettlement is a durable solution;
  • Collaboration between humanitarian and development actors, as well as considerable resources, are required to address these needs; and
  • Close attention should be paid to relations between old and new settlers at resettlement sites to avoid tensions.

Dr. Carolien Jacobs, an LDRN member, is Assistant Professor at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society at Leiden Law School, an LDRN partner institution. Bernardo Almeida is a PhD candidate at the Van Vollenhoven Institute.

The report is available on the Leiden University website.

*UPDATED* Upcoming academic opportunities: May deadlines

Vacancies / fellowships / scholarships

Assistant professor in development studies (part-time, tenure-track)| Department of Conflict and Development Studies, Ghent University, Belgium (deadline: 4 May 2020)

Three doctoral scholarships – regional dimensions of governance &  sustainable development | UNU-CRIS / Ghent University, Belgium (deadline: 11 May 2020)

Two ERC doctoral scholarships – PROPERTY[IN]JUSTICE – Land, Property and Spatial Justice in International Law | Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, Ireland (deadline: 15 May 2020)

13 PhD positions on water governance (diverse geographic focuses) | NEWAVE Next Water Governance network – host institutions in France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Netherlands, Spain & UK (deadline: 24 May 2020)

Calls for papers

Human Rights and the Climate Change Crisis (early career researchers) | University of Geneva, Switzerland | 26 – 27 November 2020 (abstract deadline: 29 May 2020)


New book: Dr. Gamze Erdem Türkelli, “Children’s Rights and Business: Governing Obligations and Responsibility” (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Children’s Rights and Business: Governing Obligations and Responsibility, Gamze Erdem Türkelli (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Children’s Rights and Business: Governing Obligations and Responsibility is a comprehensive legal inquiry into children’s rights and business. Relying on insights from various disciplines, the book illustrates the need for a children-focused inquiry on business and human rights. An analysis of the norm legalization process around the regulation of business and human rights, particularly of children’s rights follows the inquiry into existing hard and soft law regulatory frameworks on children’s rights and business. The book goes on to evaluate the promise of these frameworks in light of globalized business transactions through the lens of in-depth case illustrations on children’s rights in cotton and mineral supply chains and children’s rights in large-scale energy and transport investment projects. Finally, it concludes with a normative outlook on governing the children’s rights obligations of businesses and responsibility when violations occur, drawing on global governance approaches.

Dr. Gamze Erdem Türkelli, an LDRN member, is a Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) appointed post-doctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp Law Faculty – Law and Development Research Group (an LDRN partner institution).

New book: Dr. Kinnari Bhatt, “Concessionaires, Financiers and Communities: Implementing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Land in Transnational Development Projects” (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Concessionaires, Financiers and Communities: Implementing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Land in Transnational Development Projects, Kinnari Bhatt (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Unrelenting demands for energy, infrastructure and natural resources, and the need for developing states to augment income and signal an ‘enterprise-ready’ attitude mean that transnational development projects remain a common tool for economic development. Yet little is known about the fragmented legal framework of private financial mechanisms, contractual clauses and discretionary behaviours that shape modern development projects. How do gaps and biases in formal laws cope with the might of concessionaires and financiers and their algorithmic contractual and policy technicalities negotiated in private offices? What impacts do private legal devices have for the visibility and implementation of Indigenous peoples’ rights to land? This original perspective on transnational development projects explains how the patterns of poor rights recognition and implementation, power(lessness), vulnerability and, ultimately, conflict routinely seen in development projects will only be fully appreciated by acknowledging and remedying the pivotal role and priority enjoyed by private mechanisms, documentation and expertise. This book:

  • Introduces the phenomenon of transnational development projects as a new field for multi-disciplinary research, policy making and corporate practice
  • Provides fresh, rigorous and real-life case study and documentary illustrations into the interfaces and tensions between technical, algorithmic and hidden contractual and policy mechanisms, neoliberal values and the implementation of customary rights to land
  • Provides practical recommendations for a preventative remedial agenda that can inform those engaged in private sector development, the implementation of land rights issues, and business and human rights

Dr. Kinnari Bhatt is a postdoctoral researcher on the research project ‘integrating normative and functional approaches to the rule of law and human rights’ (INFAR). The project is a cross-disciplinary initative of  the Erasmus University School of Law in Rotterdam and the International Institute of Social Studies in the Hague (an LDRN partner institution).

To obtain a 20% discount on this book, order via Cambridge University Press using the code BHATT2020

Upcoming academic opportunities: April / May deadlines

Vacancies / fellowships / scholarships

Law & Society Scholars-in-Residence | Center for Law, Society & Culture -Indiana University Maurer School of Law, USA (deadline: 15 April 2020)

Teaching fellow  – Stanford Programme in International Legal Studies | Stanford School of Law, CA, USA (deadline: 15 April 2020)

Two PhDs on urbanisation, urbanity, and urban diversity in relation to African Studies | African Studies Centre Leiden, Leiden University, The Netherlands (deadline: 1 May 2020)

Two ERC doctoral scholarships – PROPERTY[IN]JUSTICE – Land, Property and Spatial Justice in International Law | Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, Ireland (deadline: 15 May 2020)

Assistant Professor of Sociology – Immigration | California State University San Marcos, USA (rolling deadline)

Calls for abstracts / papers

Thinking Forward | Ghent University, Belgium | 18 -20 November 2020 (deadline: 15 April 2020)

Vacancies: Assistant Professors on Law and Society and Law and Development  | Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, Leiden Law School, The Netherlands (deadline 26 April 2020)

The Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society (VVI) seeks applicants for two

Assistant Professors on Law and Society and Law and Development 

Key responsibilities

  • Teaching and developing socio-legal courses in VVI’s academic domain of law and society / law and development. This could include courses such as Law, Governance and Development, Introduction to Socio-Legal Studies,  Law and Culture, Law, Sharia and Governance, Making Human Rights Work, and Qualitative Methodology. for the bachelors and masters programmes of Leiden Law School and Leiden University College;
  • Developing research and conducting research in VVI’s academic domain;
  • Cooperating in the acquisition and management of research and teaching projects.

Selection criteria

  • Relevant Masters degree in Law, and/or Social Sciences, and/or Humanities;
  • PhD degree directly relevant to VVI’s academic domain and approach;
  • Teaching experience; proven record as good, inspiring teacher;
  • Experience with developing new teaching modules;
  • Experience with socio-legal research on the national and local level in the Global South and/or the Global North;
  • Good publication record commensurate with career stage;
  • Good language skills, including an excellent command of English. Knowledge of Dutch is considered an advantage;
  • Team player with strong proven organizational skills, and relevant networks;
  • Willingness to travel.

See the vacancy notice here for full details. 

Deadline: 26 April 2020

LDRN 2020 & COVID-19: LDRN 5th annual conference postponed to September 2021

In the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Law and Development Research Network (LDRN) has had to take the difficult decision to postpone its 5th annual conference to September 2021. The conference was to be held on 21 – 23 September 2020 at Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This plan is no longer deemed viable given our collective responsibility to participate in ensuring public health and safety, as well as the need to acknowledge the uncertainties brought about by this situation.
The network fully supports the host university in this difficult moment, and is grateful for the considerable work that has already been put into organizing the conference, as well as Nelson Mandela University’s continued commitment to hosting in September 2021.
We are also grateful for the interest and engagement of all the researchers who already submitted abstracts and panel proposals, and will be reaching out to all of you individually.
While we await our next in-person events, we aim to create opportunities this year to bring the LDRN community together online to engage with each other’s work, including around the original timing of the 2020 conference.

We will be delighted to share these plans with you via the LDRN website and newsletter – please do subscribe to stay in touch.

LDRN 5th annual conference: ten extra days to submit your proposal! (new deadline: 20 March)

The submission deadline for the 5th annual LDRN conference has been extended to 20 March 2020 – ten extra days to send in your abstract or panel proposal! 

Visit the conference website for more information, and/or to send your submission. The website now allows for multiple submissions per individual (e.g. abstract + panel proposal).

A limited number of travel stipends are available – applications should be submitted together with the abstract/panel proposal.

The LDRN 5th Annual Conference – “Challenges for Law and Development: Responses” will be hosted at Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 21 – 23 September 2020.

Download the updated call for papers here!