Critics of LSLAs often point to risks imposed on the rural poor and complain about their lack of inclusion in the decision-making process. Consultation and public participation are widely recognized as an important aspect of fair land deals. Most Voluntary guidelines and Codes of Conduct incorporate claims for consultation as an important aspect. However, when it comes to concrete instructions, they remain unspecific. This paper aims at clarifying the concept of consultation and public participation in relation to large-scale land acquisition. To this end, we first propose a conceptual framework for analyzing consultation. Subsequently, we discuss claims for participation as asked for in different voluntary guidelines and locate them in our framework. Against this background, we discuss consultation processes in Mali: The de jure situation is contrasted to case study evidence regarding three different large-scale land deals that take place within geographical proximity, and are thus in very similar political and legal context conditions. We locate both de jure and de facto processes in our framework and compare them to claims as embedded in different voluntary guidelines. Beyond the unsurprising finding that de facto decision-making in the case studies does not comply with claims for participation such as free, prior and informed consent, we also find that the de jure situation leaves much scope for discretion. The paper concludes with some critical remarks regarding the aims of consultation in large-scale land acquisition processes more generally.
Nolte, K.; Voget-Kleschin, L. LDPI Working Paper 28. Evaluating Consultation in Large-scale Land Acquisitions - Spotlight on Three Cases in Mali. The Land Deal Politics Initiative, (2013) 28 pp.