1. Reports

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.


Examining the A­‐D‐R‐tistry of Land Dispute Mediators in Northern Uganda

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Land wrangles are astoninshingly common in Uganda today, with disputes over customary land – recent studies show – on the rise. NGOs and community actors have begun offering Alternative Dispute Resolution [ADR] services, and the gravity and significance of this daily work cannot be overstated. Yet most land dispute mediations in Uganda today go unrecorded and unanalyzed as to the their procedural justice, effectiveness, and compliance to applicable laws. This study seeks to fill this gap in order to help improve the quality and impact of local ADR service delivery.


Family Land Titles: the best strategy to advance and protect women’s land rights.

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The improvement of security of tenure for women under customary law is a priority for all stakeholders. The current strategy in Uganda, as elsewhere in Africa, is for women to get individual titles. In Uganda, the laws promote customary owners getting Certificates of Customary Ownership (CCOs) where no survey occurs and where land can be converted to freehold titles. This paper: examines the likelihood of CCOs or titles being issued to rural women so as to give them secure land rights argues that the rural women have rights to family land and that a push for individual titles will endanger, rather than improve, their land rights promotes family land titles instead.


Can Wetland User Permits Co-exist with Traditional Wetland Use?

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IMPLICATIONS FOR COMMUNITIES Both the State and local communities have important roles to play in the realistic and effective management of Uganda’s wetlands. Neither can manage without the other. Wetlands are a vital part of Uganda’s geography and constitute a key resource for development, with many ecological functions and socio-economic benefits to the community. The purpose of this brief is to compare the legal process of acquiring wetland user permits and the reality on ground—as well as the implication of this on communities who rely on these wetlands as traditional users.


Community Land Justice In Uganda: Towards Meaningful Harmonisation

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Under customary tenure, land is held either by individuals, families, or communities. The Land Act (1998) provides ways in which communal land owners may register their interest and obtain documented proof of ownership. The Act does not, however, provide a systematic dispute resolution structure for communal land. Although the 2013 National Land Policy mentions harmonizing the roles of clans and that of formal courts in customary land justice, it does not address the distinct concerns community land presents. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the efforts of communities in getting their lands back from illegal grabbing and to present practical options which may go a long way in helping both courts and communities register successes in community land justice. It suggests ways to realize the 2013 Uganda National Land Policy’s mission to harmonize the administrative roles of traditional land managers and formal courts.


What assumptions are made when communal land registration is promoted?

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In its Community Land Protection Project (CLPP), LEMU sought to bring communities from a status quo of post-displacement disengagement through a process of reliable registration, constitution drafting, and vibrant community land and natural resource management. This paper shares lessons learnt in the implementation of the CLPP.


Is the clan justice system ready to assume a greater role in land administration, as provided for in the 2013 Uganda National Land Policy?

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The 2013 Uganda National Land Policy seeks to “recognize and harmonize the traditional customary system with the formal statutory system in land administration”, and restructure the land administration system to “enable traditional customary institutions to operate as the tiers of first instance in respect of land held under customary tenure”. The time has therefore come for LEMU to analyze its experience working with the clans in mediation to assess whether or not the clans are able to contribute effectively to the implementation of these provisions. This paper focuses on the question: how will clans administer land justice to women and children?


Securing Women’s Land Rights in Southern and Eastern Africa

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Report on a CPA-UK Lecture, February 2012 involving Simon Levine of LEMU. There is a need to treat the system as a whole to ensure human rights are provided to the weak, and that through this process it will be possible to generate a positive change for women.