Categories Newsflash, Other key resources, Territorial integrity, community wellbeing, World

Collective Land Ownership in the 21st Century: Overview of Global Trends

First published on 10/10/2018, and last updated on 11/27/2018

Collective Land Ownership in the 21st Century: Overview of Global Trends, by Liz Alden Wily, Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden Law School, P.O. Box 9520, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands

Liz Alden Wily is a Honorary Member of the ICCA Consortium

Statutory recognition of rural communities as collective owners of their lands is substantial, expanding, and an increasingly accepted element of property relations. The conventional meaning of property in land is changing, allowing for a greater diversity of attributes without impairing legal protection. General trends include: (1) declining attempts to deny that community lands are property on the grounds that they may not be sold or are owned collectively; (2) increased provision for communities to be registered owners to the same degree as individual and corporate persons; (3) a rise in number of laws catering specifically to the identification, registration and governance of community property; and (4) recognition that registration formalizes rather than creates property in respect of sustained customary tenure. The research reported on here examined the laws of 100 countries to ascertain the status of lands which social communities, either traditionally or in more contemporary arrangements, deem to be their own. Sampling is consistent with numbers of countries per region. The constitutions of all 100 countries were examined, along with the land laws for 61 states.  Secondary sources were used for 39 countries, due to laws not being available in English.