Power & Vulnerability in Land Dispute Resolution

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Experience reveals two types of land disputes prevalent in postwar northern Uganda:
cases that involve a legitimate cause of action and those that do not. 1 Since mediation
and alternative forms of dispute resolution rely on parties’ willingness to negotiate in
good faith, cases featuring ‘bad faith’ and land grabbing—where powerful parties
intentionally exploit another person’s vulnerability in order to illegally 2 claim land—
pose a serious challenge for local land dispute mediators.

While bad faith and land grabbing each have the ability to unravel the ADR process,
both are difficult to pinpoint since they are not immediately apparent.

The purpose of this report is to distill the experiences of victims, offenders, and
land dispute interveners to inform current practice and policy advocacy. This
investigation—conducted from March to July 2013 in partnership with seven (7)
member organizations of the Northern Uganda Land Platform—assumes that better
understanding and coordination of ADR approaches will inspire more appropriate
responses to the grave nature of these cases.