Commercial interest in land (large-scale land acquisition, LaSLA) in developing countries is a hot topic for debate and its potential consequences are contentious: proponents conceive of it as much needed investment into the formerly neglected agricultural sector while opponents point to severe social and environmental effects. This contribution discusses, if and how sustainability standards and codes of conduct can contribute towards governing LaSLA. Based on the WCED-definition we develop a conception of sustainability that allows to frame potential negative effects as issues of intra- and intergenerational justice. In a second step we specify these claims of justice, drawing on a human rights approach as well as three guidelines for sustainable development, namely, efficiency, consistency and resilience, to arrive at six guidelines for social and environmental sustainability criteria of LaSLA. We compare our suggestions with existing proposals for sustainability standards of LaSLA and with the certification schemes for sustainable production of bioenergy. From this we draw lessons for development and implementation of sustainability standards for LaSLA.