Conflict about land is increasingly seen as a core challenge for post-conflict peace building. Land is a source of local and national conflict, while conflict strongly impacts land governing institutions. Many interventions to deal with land conflicts include support to decentralization. Thereby, responsibilities for managing land and resolving disputes are transferred to local authorities and institutions. Generally, decentralization is considered an important strategy for conflict transformation and state-building from below. Yet, in practice, decentralization appears to be an ambiguous process, and its contribution to peace building is not evident.

Photo Credit: GJL@2011

This research programme investigates how land governance evolves in post-conflict situations, as an outcome of the interaction between multiple stakeholders, including government, traditional authorities, NGOs, and local people. Thereby, it looks in particular at how decentralization influences relations of governance, how it impacts the legitimacy and authority of local land tenure institutions, and how it affects the resolution of land conflicts. It builds around comparative analysis of case studies from Uganda, Burundi and southern Sudan. The programme will generate an analytical framework for the study of land governance after conflict that aims to inform decentralization policies in post-conflict situations and to promote dialogue with policy-makers about land governance.

Key questions are:

• How has civil conflict impacted the workings and legitimacy of land governance institutions and in particular, their capacity to deal with land disputes/competitive claims to land?

• How does decentralization influence land governance and reconfigure relationships of governance, in terms of empowerment, local participation, gender relations and downward accountability?

• How does decentralized land governance affect the legitimacy and authority of different institutions involved in governing land, and how does this impact the resolution of land conflicts, tenure security and the kind of justice promoted?

• How do (local) land conflicts relate to other conflicts in society, and how does decentralization restructure those relationships and so impact political stability and peace?

• How can (inter)national development organizations, donors, and local governments contribute to more effective land governance?

via ASC | Research & Education – Grounding Land Governance.