Redress for land and resource rights violations: a legal empowerment agenda

March 2019
IIED Briefing (Brendan Schwartz, Lorenzo Cotula, Masalu Luhula, Tomaso Ferrando & Hayden Fairburn)

A recent wave of large-scale commercial investments in agriculture, extractive industries and other land-based sectors has compounded the ‘global resource squeeze’ in low- and middle-income countries. But many communities affected by land rights violations struggle to assert their rights or obtain redress. Demand for legal support outstrips resources and what is available is not always appropriate. Pursuing litigation often presents significant obstacles and risks to the communities involved without offering any certain outcomes. To complement litigation efforts, this briefing suggests that an alternative and flexible mechanism to defending land rights is more effective – tailored to the local context and supporting communities to make informed decisions about what forms of redress to pursue. This approach should strengthen land governance processes in the longer term – but requires investment and commitment from donors, local partners and other legal empowerment practitioners.