Special Economic Zones: Development Engines or Sites of Exploitation?

Lorenzo Cotula, Liliane Mouan

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Special economic zones (SEZs) have spread rapidly over the past 20 years, including in many low- and middle-income countries keen to attract private investment for industrial development. But while much debate has focused on their economic performance and success factors, there are concerns over land expropriations, poor labour conditions and lost public revenues. These concerns are often partly rooted in the legal regimes that underpin SEZs — their failure to protect affected people, their exempting SEZs from national laws or their weak arrangements to ensure compliance. At the same time, activists have in a few cases mobilised the law to contest SEZs and their impacts. This briefing discusses these trends and points to possible ways forward for research, policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
TypeBriefing note
PublisherInternational Institute for Environment and Development
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)978-1-78431-632-7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Publication series

NameIIED Briefing Papers


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  • Labour Regulation in Global Supply Chains

    Liliane Mouan (Co-convenor) & Peer Zumbansen (Co-convenor)

    10 Nov 201611 Nov 2016

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

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