The Land Rights Policy is a national sectoral policy that provides the Land Commission’s policy recommendations for land rights in Liberia, centred on four basic types of rights: public land, Government land, customary land, and private land. In addition, a Protected Area is defined as a land which may fall under the Government Land, customary land, or private land categories, but which must be conserved for the benefit of all Liberians. The Policy will form the basis of a new land rights law, and will require substantial changes to the existing legal framework. Lastly, the Policy development was guided by the following principles: secure land rights, economic growth, equitable benefits, equal access, equal protection, environmental protection, clarity, participation, and evidence-based. Further the document recognizes that women’s land rights are often less protected than those of men, and therefore it aims to give equal protection to the land rights of men and womenThe Policy stipulates that the Government will have authority to regulate natural resource use and access, consistent with customary ownership rights and legal due process. In particular, the Policy defines customary land as land owned by a community and used or managed in accordance with customary practices and norms, and may include communal forestlands. In addition, the Policy states that ownership of customary land includes ownership of natural resources on the land, such as forests, including carbon credits, and water.The Policy highlights that strong customary land rights produce many benefits: increase investment in land and the benefits to communities from natural resource use, reduce the growth of the urban poor, improve local governance, foster a sense of nationhood among rural Liberians by demonstrating respect for their rights and local values, and promote legal certainty for businesses. In addition, the Policy stipulates that ownership of customary land is equally protected as private ownership, such that the community and its members, groups, families, and individuals within the community are entitled to the full bundle of land rights. These rights include, but are not limited to, the right to: exclude all others, use and possession, own natural resources on the land, and to transfer all or some of the rights through sale, lease, concession, gift, donation, will, or any other lawful means consistent with the Policy and the community’s customary norms and practices.The Policy recommendations related to more inclusive and efficient agricultural and food system seek to ensure that markets in customary land develop in a way that is accountable, transparent, and inclusive. Importantly, the Policy calls active participation by the community and neighbouring communities, including: elders, chiefs, youth, women, minorities, and local authorities for determining the boundaries and management of a community’s customary land.The Policy seeks to ensure that in the future Liberia’s land sector is orderly, just, and contributes to economic growth and development for all Liberians. Particularly, the Policy stipulates that the Government with the consent and cooperation of communities, will provide sufficient resources and undertake the necessary activities to support communities in self-defining, obtaining deeds for their customary land, establishing the community as a legal entity, determining community boundaries, and ensuring community governance and management consistent with the Policy.
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