A Guide to Property Law in Uganda | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2007
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
ISBN: 978-92-113-1919-4
Copyright details: 
Disclaimer The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries, or regarding its economic system or degree of development. The analysis, conclusions and recommendations of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, or its Member States.

This guide has been written as an information resource for government officials, community leaders, humanitarian aid workers, judges, lawyers and others whose responsibilities include upholding land and property rights in Uganda. It outlines the main provisions of Uganda’s constitutional and legal framework and the protection these provide to property rights. It briefly outlines the historical background to existing land tenure relations, describes the constitutional provisions relating to land in the 1995 Constitution and sets out the main provisions of the Land Act 1998. Many important principles related to land law in Uganda pre-date the current constitutional and legal framework. Some derive from concepts developed under English property law and many of the cases discussed below were heard by the courts while Uganda was still under colonial rule. It also explains some of the terms and concepts which under-pin the existing system of land rights in Ugandan law. Although the formal system for administrating land tenure, carrying out transactions and settling disputes in Uganda is quite clear, the practice is less so. Lack of resources has made it difficult to implement some of the main provisions that the laws envisage and the official institutions suffer from a serious lack of capacity, which has increased the role and significance of customary law in filling the resulting vacuum. This guide provides a brief introduction to how customary law in Uganda deals with land rights in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda. It includes a brief overview of the context in which Acholi ethnicity has developed and how this has given rise to certain beliefs and ways of approaching land rights and settling disputes. Finally, the guide describes the protection given to land, housing and property rights under international law, which, while not directly applicable, forms an important framework within which the courts should operate. It provides practical guidance on how international human rights monitoring bodies can be used to draw attention to particular violations of land, housing and property rights.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Conor Foley

Data provider

Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) is an independent public policy research and advocacy think tank based in Uganda working in East and Southern Africa. ACODE was first registered in 1999 as a Non-governmental organization (NGO). In 2004, the organization was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and without having a share capital. ACODE is one of the most dynamic and robust regional leaders in cutting-edge public policy research and analysis in a range of areas including governance, trade, environment, and science and technology.

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