Functions of Soft Law in Transnational and Local Governance: A Case of the Land Rush in the Mekong Region 

by Naoyuki Okano

This paper analyzes land law history in the Mekong region, a recent land rush there, and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT), a soft law measure on governance of tenure. This work will generally illustrate recent developments of land governance. Following a survey on the broader discourse and scholarship on the global land rush, it will argue for further analysis in soft law measures as a crucial element to understand and critique land governance in the Mekong Region. The VGGT is presented as a case study to show two possible functions of soft law: (1) it legitimizes the self-determination of countries in their policy reforms in the Mekong region and (2) it forms the basis for gradual policy changes toward dominant conceptions of ‘clear and strong’ property rights by reaching a minimal, but fundamental agreement while carefully avoiding controversial issues. 

 Read the full article