Monthly Archives: August 2010

Global online competition – land rights and formalization

Readers with relevant experience are encouraged to apply for the below competition. The official website is available here and I have copied in the official announcement below:

Omidyar Network and Changemakers Launch Competition to Unleash Impact through Property Rights

Washington DC and Redwood City, CA, August 18, 2010Omidyar Network and Ashoka’s Changemakers announced today they are launching an online competition to find the world’s top leaders working to increase secure access to property rights. The Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All challenge will recognize solutions that create economic and social opportunity through secure rights to land.

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Happy World Humanitarian Day!

by Rhodri C. Williams

Okay, you might be forgiven if the big date slipped your mind – after all we are only two years in since Sweden sponsored a UNGA Resolution that created it. Its worth a pause for reflection, however, as the timing this year is rather poignant. August 19 was proposed as it was the date of the bombing, in 2003, of the UN compound in Baghdad. At that time, SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello was killed along with 21 others, including my law school asylum law professor (and mentor to many of my colleagues) Arthur Helton.

In the seven years since the UN attack, it is hard to say a lot of progress has been achieved in terms of resolving the fundamental dilemma in which humanitarian workers are increasingly targeted in spite of the principles meant to protect them and therefore increasingly dependent on forms of protection that are hard to reconcile with those principles. Indeed, as described by Samantha Powers and others, de Mello’s own presence in Iraq reflected a post 9-11 dynamic in which humanitarians have struggled to find an appropriate role in situations where they are badly needed but more at risk than ever of being perceived as partial by association or even design.

Last October, Conor Foley described a variant of this pattern in Afghanistan, asking how many more humanitarian aid workers would have to die before it would be broken. Part of the answer came with the appalling murder nearly two weeks ago of ten aid workers in northern Afghanistan. So its a good day to reflect on a lot of people who are out there in uncomfortable and dangerous circumstances working to mitigate the situation of others who are even worse off and do not have the option to leave. Would that none of it were necessary.

The World Bank struggles with its resettlement policy in Cambodia

by Natalie Bugalski

NB: For background on this piece, please see a previous post on this site here.

In October the World Bank Inspection Panel will submit its report to the Bank’s Board of Directors on the Cambodia Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP). The Panel is investigating whether the design and implementation of LMAP constituted non-compliance with World Bank operational policies on involuntary resettlement and project supervision, and whether harm was suffered as a result of non-compliance.

The Request for Inspection submitted to the Panel in September last year claims that households living around a large lake in central Phnom Penh, known as Boeung Kak, were denied their right to proper adjudication of their land tenure status when the entire area was demarcated as being of “unknown” ownership, a de facto classification used when an area is claimed by the State. At around the same time that the flawed adjudication process was being completed in early 2007, the Cambodian Government leased the area to a private company with links to top echelons of power. The company has since filled in most of the lake and about a third of the residents living on and around the lake have been evicted, without ever having their rights to the land assessed. The approximately 12,000 remaining residents live under threat of eviction and report regular acts of intimidation and threats by local authorities in cahoots with the company.

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Upcoming guest-posting by Natalie Bugalski on Cambodia

TN’s summer siesta will shortly be interrupted again, this time for a fascinating posting by guest-blogger Natalie Bugalski on land conflicts in Cambodia. Her piece will give more details on the Boeung Kak land dispute in Phnom Penh that I previously posted on here. It will also give an updated description of the World Bank’s current attempts to find a way to engage the government of Cambodia on pro-poor land administration even as it awaits a finding of the World Bank Inspection Panel that may identify significant failures in its past programming in this area. Stay tuned!

Guardian preview of World Bank report on the Global Land Rush

A brief note to highlight the Guardian’s recent article indicating that a forthcoming World Bank report on the global land rush (on which, see Chris Huggins’ excellent past posting here) is likely to be quite  critical. The diagnosis is unlikely to be particularly surprising, as it seems the report confirms that foreign investors are targeting countries with weak institutions in order to cut deals that crowd out local farmers. In some senses, this represents an external variant of the problems of predatory approaches to land administration I blogged on recently in Cambodia. And the fact that the World Bank has been criticized for having been passively complicit there in the type of practices it is thought likely to criticize in its forthcoming land rush report demonstrates a basic dilemma – the fact that governments that violate land rights in the present are still the only institutions that offer a realistic hope of securing them in the future.