This paper looks at the dynamics of land and violent conflict. It states that conflict situations in rural societies deeply affect the politics of land, and that land requires a careful approach by policy makers because it is a central element in the evolution of societies. As a result, policies pertaining to land are not neutral in terms of conflict management.The paper argues that donors seeking to promote peace and development should tackle land issues in recipient countries more systematically, more carefully and in a more coherent manner. Conversely, land policy should carefully take sensitivities and grievances into account, in order to better monitor the risks of violent conflict.Recommendations on donor approaches and tools include:donors’ conflict-prevention programmes aiming to sustain peace in immediate post-conflict settings tend to neglect land issues. Similarly, land policy projects often neglect the conflict dimensiondonors should pay attention early on to the political dynamics that may impede the implementation of their institution-building programmesdonors should improve their ability to monitor potential land-incited conflict and to look for early warning signs; land issues should always be included in assessments of pre- and post-conflict vulnerabilitiesbetter co-ordination among and within donor agencies is crucial, and requires that they combine traditionally separate programmatic domains, for example, economic growth, governance, and rural development. Political impact assessments could be used to identify areas where co-ordination is most needed in order to prevent counter- effectsbest practices to deal with open or hidden political conflicts include participatory approaches and comprehensive stakeholder dialogue. Donors need to engage all stakeholders in land related conflicts, as they do in helping to resolve broader conflicts.
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