Tuesday, April 26, 2011
PUBLICATION: Statutory recognition of customary land rights in Africa
A recent FAO Legislative study, a book by Rachael S. Knight titled Statutory Recognition of Customary Land rights in Africa, is now available for download.
Given the recent trend of granting vast areas of African land to foreign investors, the urgency of placing real ownership in the hands of the people living and making their livelihood upon lands held according to custom cannot be overstated. This study provides guidance on how best to recognize and protect the land rights of the rural poor. Protecting and enforcing the land rights of rural Africans may be best done by passing laws that elevate existing customary land rights up into nations' formal legal frameworks, thereby making customary land rights equal to documented land claims.
This publication investigates various over-arching issues related to the statutory recognition of customary land rights. Three case studies of land laws in Botswana, Tanzania and Mozambique are analysed extensively in content and implementation, concluding with recommendations and practical considerations on how to write a land law that recognizes and formalizes customary land rights. It cautions lawmakers that even excellent laws may, in their implementation, fall prey to political manipulation and suggests various oversight and accountability mechanisms that may be established to ensure that the law is properly implemented, the land claims of rural communities are protected, and the legislative intent of the law is realized.