Customary Law and the Protection of Community Rights to Resources | Land Portal
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January 2014
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Legal Resources Centre

We believe that law should in principle assist vulnerable communities in changing power relations. Law is fundamentally a ‘neutral’ set of rules that constrains power by requiring decisions and actions of those in power to comply with legal rules, rights and obligations. Unfortunately, we have seen the powerful appropriate law as a tool for only protecting and strengthening their interests.

There is a way in which communities can re-appropriate the law and use it to protect their rights against the powerful interests. This booklet argues for ways in which communities and human rights activists can advocate for such a change in power dynamics by asserting living customary law.

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The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) is South Africa’s largest public interest, human rights law clinic. Established in 1979, we use the law as an instrument of justice for the vulnerable and marginalised, including poor, homeless and landless people.

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