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Property from Below - Lunchtime Seminar featuring MIT's Balakrishnan Rajago...

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Staff Common Room, 2nd floor, UNSW Law Building

Union Road

#Building F8

Sydney, NSW 2052

Australia

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The Inequality Grand Challenge program and UNSW Law invites UNSW researchers in all disciplines to a lunchtime seminar featuring Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Professor of Law and Development and Head of the International Development Group at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). (Lunch will be served from 12.45pm, thanks to the generousity of the Inequality Grand Challenge.)

Property from Below

This research aims to address the challenges posed by the globalization of property rights over land and its related natural resources -- land, water and marine resources and genetic resources. What we observe is a growing commodification of these resources, legitimized by arguments based essentially on allocative efficiency and on the need to reward and encourage productivity (understood as the use of resources as a source of economic profit), but that often disregard the rights and interests of the poorest populations in the global South. The clearest evidence for this comes from deep and permanent conditions of poverty in both rural and urban areas, severe impacts on food security and livelihoods as well as housing and land rights. More than 250 million people have been displaced due to development projects during the last two decades alone, leading them to live a situation of permanent precariousness and deepening poverty and social exclusion. This paper analyzes these trends (section 1). It examines the role of the commodification of resources in these processes of exclusion and the lessons we can draw from the experience of developing countries and development actors about the nature of property in land from the perspective of legal and development theory (section 2). It asks if there are alternatives to the current trends towards increased commodification of resources, based on the identification of emerging alternative property regimes that could be better suited to the needs of the rural and urban poor in developing regions (section 3).


Biography

Balakrishnan Rajagopal is currently a Professor of Law and Development and Head of the International Development Group at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He is also the founding Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice, and the founder of the Displacement Research and Action Network at MIT. He has a law degree from India as well as an interdisciplinary doctorate in law from Harvard Law School. He is recognized as a leading participant in the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) Network of scholars and as one of its founders. He has been a member of the Executive Council and Executive Committee of the American Society of International Law, and is currently on the Asia Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch. He was an invited member of the Expert Group convened by the UN at its Fourth Summit on Least Developed Countries in Istanbul in 2011. He is a Faculty Associate at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation and has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC (Spring 2006), the Madras Institute of Development Studies and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India (both Spring 2004), the Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University (Spring 2011) and a Visiting Professor at the UN University for Peace, University of Melbourne Law School and the Washington College of Law, the American University. He is on the editorial committee or advisory boards of numerous journals including Transnational Legal Theory and Law and Development Review. Prior to his academic career, he served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and received Cambodia’s highest Royal Award for foreign nationals from the King of Cambodia (Royal Order of Sahametrei, 1997). He has published numerous scholarly articles in leading law and social science journals and chapters in various volumes. He is the author/editor of two books - International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003; 2nd edition forthcoming), and Reshaping Justice: International Law and the Third World (co-editor, Routledge, 2008) and three forthcoming books from Cambridge University Press, Routledge and Edward Elgar Publishing. His work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and French. He also publishes widely in the media on human rights and international law and issues concerning the global south in such publications as the Boston Globe, the Hindu, Washington Post, the Indian Express, El Universal, and the Nation, and is a blogger at huffingtonpost.com.

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Staff Common Room, 2nd floor, UNSW Law Building

Union Road

#Building F8

Sydney, NSW 2052

Australia

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