How can we solve land disputes around the world?

11 September 2012

With most disputes in the world about land rights, are there resolutions to these complex issues?

From Honduras to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, people have been displaced and lost rights to their land. From whole populations to individuals, the loss festers for years before a claim is made for the land that leads to conflict. In many instances where mediation has failed, cases are dragged through the courts by those with deeper pockets.

A mediated solution, backed in larger cases by political consensus, can achieve a great deal to diffuse tension and establish rights in land. Political scientists, lawyers, cartographers, surveyors and other land rights experts can work together towards seeking resolutions.

One innovation is for an independent body - an NGO - to advocate for settlements based on objective facts, as both sides tend to embellish their claims. Sound research, trustworthy, competent mediators and good lawyers could bring an interdisciplinary approach to the work. In intractable cases, this body could also assist to bring the cases before regional and international human rights organisations for settlement.

Read about the Land Rights International initiative, aiming to solving land disputes fairly.

You can also look at the Innovating Justice challenge about systems for allocating land rights and solving land conflicts.