Special Issue "Land Restitution: Processes and Outcomes in Different Political and Socio-Cultural Contexts"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Andreas Neef
Website
Guest Editor
Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, The University of Auckland, 10 Symonds Street, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Interests: land grabbing; development-induced displacement; natural resource governance; post-disaster response and recovery; participatory approaches to research and development; ethics and governance in the food–water–energy nexus; climate change adaptation and community resilience
Dr. Chanrith Ngin
Website
Guest Editor
Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, The University of Auckland, 10 Symonds Street, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Interests: land conflicts; land governance; political economy of land grabbing; migration; climate change adaptation; urban climate resilience

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land restitution has recently re-entered the political arena and regained global scholarly attention. Land restitution processes have been instigated in a variety of regional and country contexts. In settler states, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, new, but controversial land legislation has paved the way for corrective justice and land claims by Indigenous and Aboriginal populations that were dispossessed under colonial rule (e.g., Huizenga, 2018; Kearney, 2018). In post-conflict countries, internally displaced people have attempted to reclaim land they had to leave behind when fleeing from violence and persecution. In Colombia, for instance, nearly six million people were forcibly displaced from an estimated 14 per cent of the country’s territory between 1985 and 2013, with recent land restitution efforts under the “Victims and Land Restitution Law” marked by structural inequalities and unfulfilled promises (McKay, 2018). Post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have also undergone highly contested land restitution processes (e.g., Triantis, 2018). Land reclamation and restitution also occurs in places where large-scale land acquisitions and leases (‘land grabbing’) by multinational corporations have failed or have been revoked as a result of successful resistance by dispossessed communities. The Land Matrix (2018), a global and independent land monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment, has recorded more than 100 failed transnational land deals that have affected about 8.3 million hectares globally.

Our Special Issue invites contributions that provide new empirical, methodological, and theoretical insights into processes of restitution in various settings. We are particularly interested in articles that address one or more of the following questions:

  • How are land restitution processes organised and how do they intersect with ongoing contestations over access to natural resources, the continuous reordering of rural and urban spaces, and the building of collective local/indigenous identities and movements?
  • What is the impact of land restitution processes on access to and ownership of natural resources that were previously held in common (e.g., water, forests, pastures)?
  • How is land restitution linked with broader efforts to reform post-colonial, post-socialist and post-conflict land legislation and formalise the rights of indigenous people, ethnic minority groups, and migrant populations?
  • What are the contextual factors that influence which groups emerge comparatively empowered from land restitution processes, and which may be further marginalised?
  • What alternative visions to modern legal frameworks are proposed and advanced by Indigenous and Aboriginal people, local communities, and civil society organisations involved in land restitution processes?
  • What is the role of national and international legal frameworks and bi- and multilateral donors in determining both processes and outcomes of land restitution?

References

Huizenga, D. Articulation of Aboriginal title, indigenous rights, and living customary law in South Africa. Soc. Leg. Stud. 2018, 27, 3–24.

Kearney, A. Returning to that which was never lost: Indigenous Australian saltwater identities, a history of claims and the paradox of return. History Anthropol. 2018, 29, 184–203.

McKay, B. Democratising land control: towards rights, reform and restitution in post-conflict Colombia. Can. J. Dev. Stud. 2018, 39, 163–181.

Triantis, L. The post-socialist restitution of property as dispossession: Social dynamics and land development in Southern Albania. Land Use Policy 2018, 71, 584–592.

Land Matrix (2018). The Online Public Database on Land Deals. Available online: https://landmatrix.org/en/.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Neef
Dr. Chanrith Ngin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Land reform
  • Land restitution
  • Land grabbing
  • Property rights
  • Indigenous
  • Migration
  • Legal frameworks
  • Alternative development

Published Papers (5 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle
Law, Violence, and Property Expropriation in Syria: Impediments to Restitution and Return
Land 2019, 8(11), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8110173 - 13 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
After eight years of civil war, parts of Syria are now free from conflict. In recognition of the return to peace, the government officially welcomes back all who fled the country to escape violence. Yet, a pattern of property expropriation supported by the [...] Read more.
After eight years of civil war, parts of Syria are now free from conflict. In recognition of the return to peace, the government officially welcomes back all who fled the country to escape violence. Yet, a pattern of property expropriation supported by the government during the war limits the ability of some to return and reclaim their homes and businesses. We argue here that intentional changes to law and policy regarding property rights during the war has led to asset losses for members of groups opposed to the government and created a barrier to property restitution and the return of these groups. We examine legal documents and secondary sources identifying government actions and their impact, noting the proliferation of laws that systematically erode the property rights of people who lack proximity, legal status, and regime allies. As the results of these laws manifest after the war, a disproportionate number of Syrians who opposed the government will find themselves without the houses, land, and property they held before the war began. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Theories of Land Reform and Their Impact on Land Reform Success in Southern Africa
Land 2019, 8(11), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8110172 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Our purpose is to present and test a typology of land reform theories as a means of understanding and interrogating the motives behind land reform and to better equip land administrators and policymakers to enact land reform programs that are appropriate for their [...] Read more.
Our purpose is to present and test a typology of land reform theories as a means of understanding and interrogating the motives behind land reform and to better equip land administrators and policymakers to enact land reform programs that are appropriate for their contexts. Here, land reform is understood to include the related concepts of land redistribution, land restitution, land tenure reform and land administration reform. The theory typology thus has application for land restitution programs specifically operating in the global South. The continuum of theories is derived from literature and tested through a multiple case study of land reform in Nigeria, Mozambique, and South Africa, drawing from a combination of primary and secondary data. The findings suggest an over-reliance on replacement theories in all three contexts, although the Mozambican experience draws on theories towards the middle of the continuum (the adaptation theories). This is recommended as the most viable approach for the context. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
‘Not One More Bloody Acre’: Land Restitution and the Treaty of Waitangi Settlement Process in Aotearoa New Zealand
Land 2019, 8(11), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8110162 - 31 Oct 2019
Abstract
Te Tiriti o Waitangi, signed between Māori rangatira (chiefs) and the British Crown in 1840 guaranteed to Māori the ‘full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands’. In the decades that followed, Māori were systematically dispossessed of all but a fraction of their [...] Read more.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi, signed between Māori rangatira (chiefs) and the British Crown in 1840 guaranteed to Māori the ‘full, exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands’. In the decades that followed, Māori were systematically dispossessed of all but a fraction of their land through a variety of mechanisms, including raupatu (confiscation), the individualisation of title, excessive Crown purchasing and the compulsory acquisition of land for public works. Māori, who have deep cultural and whakapapa (genealogical) connections to the land, were left culturally, materially and spiritually impoverished. Land loss has long been a central grievance for many Māori and the return of land has been a guiding motivation for whānau (extended family), hapū (sub-tribe) and iwi (tribe) seeking redress from the Crown. Since the 1990s, many groups have entered into negotiations to settle their historical grievances with the Crown and while land loss and the deep yearning for its return are central to many Māori claims, precious little land is typically returned to Māori through the settlement process. This paper seeks to critically examine the Treaty settlement process in light of land restitution policies enacted elsewhere and argues that one of the many flaws in the process is the paucity of land returned to Māori. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Treaty Claims Settlement Process in New Zealand and Its Impact on Māori
Land 2019, 8(10), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8100152 - 15 Oct 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This article considers research conducted on the impact of the Crown’s treaty claims settlement policy on Māori in New Zealand. It provides a brief background to the Treaty of Waitangi and the subsequent British colonisation process that relied on the Doctrine of Discovery [...] Read more.
This article considers research conducted on the impact of the Crown’s treaty claims settlement policy on Māori in New Zealand. It provides a brief background to the Treaty of Waitangi and the subsequent British colonisation process that relied on the Doctrine of Discovery in breach of the treaty. It outlines how colonisation dispossessed Māori of 95 percent of their lands and resources, usurped Māori power and authority and left them in a state of poverty, deprivation and marginalisation while procuring considerable wealth, prosperity and privilege for British settlers. The work of the Waitangi Tribunal, the commission of inquiry set up to investigate those breaches, is considered, as is the Crown’s reaction to the 1987 Lands case in developing its treaty claims settlement policy. The Crown unilaterally imposed the policy despite vehement opposition from Māori. Since 1992, it has legislated more than seventy ‘settlements’. The research shows that overall, the process has traumatised claimants, divided their communities, and returned on average less than one percent of their stolen lands. Proposals for constitutional transformation have drawn widespread support from Māori as a solution to British colonisation. United Nations treaty-monitoring bodies have recommended that the government discuss this with Māori. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Possession and Precedence: Juxtaposing Customary and Legal Events to Establish Land Authority
Land 2019, 8(8), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8080126 - 18 Aug 2019
Abstract
Land restitution carries implicit recognition of some previous claim to ownership, but when are first claims recognized? The concepts of first possession and original acquisition have long been used as entry points to Western concepts of property. For Austronesia, the concept of precedence [...] Read more.
Land restitution carries implicit recognition of some previous claim to ownership, but when are first claims recognized? The concepts of first possession and original acquisition have long been used as entry points to Western concepts of property. For Austronesia, the concept of precedence is used in customary systems to justify and describe land claims and Indigenous authority. Conflict and political change in Timor-Leste have highlighted the co-existence of multiple understandings of land claims and their legitimacy. Considering customary principles of precedence brings into relief important elements of first possession important in land restitution processes. This paper juxtaposes the concept of original acquisition in property theory to two different examples of original claims from Timor-Leste: a two-part customary origin narrative from Oecusse and the development of a national land law for the new state. In these three narratives, we identify three different establishment events from which land authority develops. The article then uses this idea of the establishment event to explore five points of customary-statutory intersection evident from the land restitution process: (1) legitimate sources of land authority; (2) arbitrary establishment dates; (3) privileging of social order; (4) recognition of spiritual ties to land; and (5) the possibility for reversal. Full article

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The Fabrication of the New Land Frontier: Land Restitution and Distribution in the Ayeyarwady Delta, Myanmar
Author: Celine Allaverdian
Affiliation: GRET, Myanmar; [email protected]
Abstract: In 2012, Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein called for the return of confiscated lands, as a stepping stone towards restoring justice after decades of abuse of power, land confiscations and coercive State policies that engendered nation-wide land dispossession. In the midst of the country’s democratic transition, economic opening and a systematic land titling program, his pledge triggered a wave of contestation, notably by farmers claiming to have been victims of land dispossession and demanding land restitution. With the 2015 general elections and the advent of NLD government, landlessness became increasingly part of considerations in the land reform agenda. Initially oriented towards the return of lands to original owners, the land reform gradually evolved to include landless for wealth redistribution objectives. Drawing on fine-grained field studies conducted in nine sites in Ayeyarwady division – the country’s main rice bowl - the paper examines this land restitution process, its on-the- ground dynamics and challenges. The current reform is situated historically in the perspective of previous land reforms of the country. The article shows how the Ayeyarwady Delta was “born” as a frontier region during the British colonial era, and analyses the different frontier dynamics that have shaped its agro-ecological and social landscape since then. Despite the fact Delta’s agricultural frontiers have been closed since decades, I argue that in the absence of available lands but also of clear policies, and with limited means, loosely defined objectives, and weak political traction, the “land return” and “land to the landless” reforms have generated a new form of frontier on liminal “State lands”, involving a wide diversity of stakeholders with competing claims and interests. This has led to the emergence of new actors in the micro-local territorialisation processes taking place on the contested spaces of land allocation sites.
Keywords: land reform; land dispossession; land restitution; micro-local territorialisation processes; Myanmar

Title: Mediation Turmoil: Hidden Transcripts and Power Imbalance in a Land Conflict Resolution Case in Northeastern Cambodia
Author: Frédéric Bourdier
Affiliation: UMR 201 Développement et Sociétés (DEVSOC), University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, France; [email protected]
Abstract: In the Mekong sub-region, governments rely on foreign direct investment for promoting national economic development. These external funding sources have contributed to numerous land grabs and forced evictions during the last two decades. In Cambodia, they both became so common that populations not yet affected sometimes start taking preventive steps. In 2009, an open clash erupted between a foreign agro-industrial Company and eleven villages, mostly inhabited by indigenous communities, located in the north-eastern province of the Kingdom. Their moral economy, corresponding to their perception of economic justice and to their concrete definition of what they mean by exploitation, has been violated. But three years after, rather than enduring a strenuous confrontation or launching improbable legal proceedings against the incriminated company, a group of supporting NGOs encouraged the affected populations to adopt a so-called alternative strategy based on a fair-minded mediation. This institutionalized initiative, the first ever implemented in Cambodia, supposed to give back some land illegally taken to the people by the company, relied on existing mechanisms associated with international law regulations and bank procedures. This ended in an apolitical and technical intervention, upheld by the World Bank, which, predictably, turned to the disadvantage of already deprived villagers confronted, among other shortcomings, by structural impairment and limited autonomous advocacy.
Keywords: Moral economy; land restitution; safeguards policy; mediation; Cambodia

Title: A Meta-Analysis of Land Restitution in Cambodia
Authors: Chanrith Ngin1, Alice Beban2 and Andreas Neef1
Affiliations: 1 Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
2 School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University, New Zealand
Corresponding author’s email: [email protected]
Abstract: Cambodia has experienced rapid economic growth due partly to natural resource investment and extraction. Land conflicts have been pervasive between local communities and companies that invest in land. Despite substantial research into land conflict resolution, knowledge about how land is returned to dispute parties and what happens to the returned land is fragmented. This meta-analysis aims to provide a holistic understanding of land restitution in Cambodia by examining different types of land conflict, actors involved, and restitution processes. It provides both a macro perspective on land restitution and conflict-specific perspectives regarding how actors engage in different processes that produce various outcomes for disputants. This understanding of complexities in land restitution is crucial to achieving land tenure security, particularly for local communities.
Keywords: Land; conflict; restitution; actors; processes; outcomes; Cambodia

Title: Papering Over the Cracks: Post-War Land Legislation, Custom, Property and Land ‘Papers’ in Burundi
Authors: Rosine Tchatchoua Djomo 1* and Han van Dijk 2
Affiliations: PhD Candidate, African Studies Centre, Leiden University, and Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands; [email protected]
2  Professor of Law and Governance, Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands; [email protected]
* Correspondence: [email protected]
Abstract: This article examines how customary norms and community-based practices come into play when statutory law enforces land allocation and property rights in rural settings with a history of violent conflicts and where land disputes are ongoing. It focuses on the state’s approaches to sanctioning tenure arrangements, land restitution and registering property rights in the light of the complex social relations involved in issues of property relationships. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, workshops and review of relevant policy documents, land legislation, previous studies and newspapers, this article outlines the multifaceted ways in which customary and community-based approaches to land ownership and property articulate with the various legal and institutional provisions on ownership and property which have built-up over time in Burundi. The field sites are located in Ngozi and Makamba provinces, respectively in northern and southern Burundi. In both contexts, subsequent reforms in the formal legal system have shaped the layering of procedures and practices for sanctioning local tenure arrangements, land restitution and registering property rights, the diversification of (un) official land documentation within the statutory tenure system and a reinterpretation of customary norms. While current normative practices include a mix of state law and custom, they also highlight a normative contrast between state-based and community/family notions of property and ownership.
Keywords: land papers; legal pluralism; post-war; property relations; tenure reforms; Burundi

Title: Land Restitution Processes in Different Political and Socio-Cultural Contexts:
A Global Review
Author: Andreas Neef
Affiliation: Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; [email protected]
Abstract: Since the beginning of the 21st century, land restitution processes have been instigated in diverse regional and country contexts. Drawing on a systematic review of the recent literature, this article examines such processes, their underlying discourses and contestations and their preliminary outcomes. A particular focus of this review paper is on (1) post-colonial restitution processes, particularly in settler states, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where constitutional changes and controversial land legislation enacted over the past 30 years has paved the way for corrective justice and land claims by Indigenous and Aboriginal populations that were dispossessed under colonial rule; (2) restitution processes in post-conflict countries, e.g. Colombia and Mozambique, where internally displaced people and refugees returning from neighbouring countries have attempted to reclaim land they had to leave behind when fleeing from violence and persecution; (3) land and forest restitution in post-socialist and transitional countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which have been highly contested processes, often associated with new forms of land dispossession; and (4) land reclamation and restitution in countries and regions where large-scale land acquisitions and leases (‘land grabbing’) by multinational corporations and domestic elites have failed or have been revoked as a result of successful resistance by dispossessed communities. The aim of the article is to provide new conceptual and theoretical insights into processes of land restitution in various geographical, political and institutional settings.
Keywords: land restitution; settler states; post-socialist land reform; post-conflict countries; land grabbing; land legislation

Back to TopTop