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Title: Land Reform as Conflict Prevention: the Case of Rwanda
Authors: Pottier, Johan
Keywords: Rwanda
Issue Date: 8-Jul-2016
Abstract: A decade ago, Rwanda embarked on a major land reform programme. The authorities claimed that the new Land Law, and the Land Policy document in support, would contribute to social equality and the prevention of future conflict. The Land Law was finally passed in May 2005.This paper provides a contextualized reading of key aspects of the law. Attention is also paid to other forms of recent legislation, especially villagization (imidugudu) and the new property law that regulates women's inheritance. The argument is in three parts. First, I document and argue that the 2005 Land Law has more potential for generating future conflicts than promoting peace. The law's emphasis on the need to consolidate fragmented family plots, and especially the likelihood/threat that up to half a million households may lose what little land they still own, will cause tension and opposition to the nouveaux riches who are involved in land speculation. I also pay attention to the state authorities' right to confiscate land not 'properly' managed.Second, some of the potential for future violence may be reduced by the fact that Government is bound to allow some flexibility in the way the land law is locally interpreted and applied. As can be seen with other fonts of state interventions in Rwanda- e.g. the restitution of property to repatriates who returned after the genocide; the villagization programme (imidugudu); or today's gacaca trials - the state imposes firm parameters. but gives local administrators some discretion in how to apply them.Third, looking to the future, I contend that it remains to be seen whether the recent, pro-women inheritance legislation will fed champions (politicians, administrators) willing and able to take on the full force of the language of public morality, which prevents women from exercising their legal rights. This may not happen. Although the Land Law declares a commitment to gender equity with regard to ownership (Article 4), the rest of the law is conspicuously silent on land in relation to gender.
Peer reviewed: no
Appears in Collections:CEI-CRI - Comunicações a conferências internacionais

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