Adjudication without Frontiers
Edited by Horatia Muir Watt, Lucia Bíziková, Agatha Brandão de Oliveira and Diego P. Fernandez Arroyo
Chapter 6: Indigenous norms and judicial anthropology: Song Mao
The Cambodian ‘blood sugar’ scandal was revealed to the general public in 2010 by the ‘Cambodia Clean Sugar Campaign’, which called for a boycott of sugar exported to Europe under the European Union’s ‘Everything But Arms’ trade initiative. According to the campaigners, ‘increasing production had resulted in human rights abuses’ that required to be tackled at their origin, i.e. in the countries that were incentivising the exploitation and benefiting from ongoing land grabbing (http://www.cleansugarcampaign.net/). In this context, the Song Mao case illustrates several phenomena linked to global value chains: the generation and global circulation of value; multiple collateral damages (in terms of environmental harm, displacement of populations, forced labour, destruction of cultural forms of life and landgrabbing); and above all, the role of law, particularly in its private international avatar, in their construction and maintenance. Here, the claimants, some 200 villagers and former residents of the Koh Kong area in Cambodia, sued the multinational sugar giant Tate & Lyle in tort, alleging that they had been displaced from the land they inhabited; that the land and the sugar cane planted in that land was their property; that the raw sugar processed from the sugar cane was imported to England where it was converted by the defendants into refined sugar. Interestingly, they sought not the repossession of the land but a continued share in the profits generated by the refined sugar – targeting thereby the very core of the dynamic process of capital accumulation.
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