In memory of Robin Palmer | Land Portal

Robin Palmer passed away on Sunday 19 February. Robin was a pro-poor land activist who worked tirelessly as an academic and practitioner in the land rights sector for more than five decades. He was the initiator and editor of the Land Rights in Africa website, first created in 2000 whilst Robin worked with Oxfam, continuing to curate the site after it moved to Mokoro in 2012. Robin joined Mokoro as a Principal Consultant in 2007, and since retiring he has continued to be closely involved with the company. With his strong personal commitment to equitable land rights, he has sought to inspire a similar interest amongst the next generation of academics, practitioners and activists, through his curation of seminars on land, his years of active management of the Land Rights in Africa site, and his never-failing belief in social justice. He will be sorely missed.

Messages of condolence can be sent to Mokoro if  (via Jim Grabham, these messages will be shared with Robin’s family.’

Alternatively, please share your thoughts, memories and experiences with Robin in the comments section below.



Huge loss to the land rights community. Robin has supported and cheered my work on land rights more than 20 years ago when I started with ActionAid. His commitment and knowledge served as a guide to so many in this field. My sincere condolences to Robin's family and friends.

I was saddened to receive news of Robin Palmer’s death. 

Robin was a scholar and historian who witnessed southern Africa’s independence movements and liberation struggles at first hand. He later became a tireless researcher, networker and campaigner for progressive land reforms, and the rights and livelihoods of the downtrodden and dispossessed and an advocate for legal and policy change, working with Oxfam over many years,  later joining Mokoro. Robin maintained an African land rights data base actively, a unique resource that pre-dated the Internet and today’s Land Portal, widely utilised by people in government, academia, and civil society, and likely to remain an important historical source.  Robin was a mentor for many advocacy organisations, fellow researchers, and activists, including myself. Reliably critical of corporate and government power, Robin was always keen to promote critical debate, engage constructively with anybody, irrespective of personal and political views, and to remind us all of the lessons and context of history.


I will remember Robin very fondly.

We are deeply saddened to hear about Robin’s passing. Robin Palmer was the father of land rights work at Oxfam. He worked with Oxfam for over 20 years. In 2005, he wrote a paper critically reflecting on the role of International NGOs seeking to work globally on land rights. Robin’s vision has guided Oxfam’s land rights work over the decades. Robin remained an undisputed global resource of expertise on land rights, throughout many Oxfam developments. Oxfam’s land rights community across countries, regions and affiliates are grateful for Robin’s pioneering work on land and we continue to carry his legacy. May he Rest in Peace. 

Robin was a generous spirit. He promoted land issues and supported many. I valued his advice and encouragement. Beyond land, in the development sector he also stood for an approach to development rooted in genuine solidarity between people, that recognised that it needed to be tranformatory and needed committed people more than metrics of success and logframes. In academia he believed in and did his best to link academic work and research with real world struggles.


RIP Robin Palmer

Although Robin Palmer passed away, his contributions to societal well being will always stay in moving on to his steps. May Robin’s family stay safe, strong and proud of him.

Beautiful tributes to Robin from across the global land rights community are testament to his impact through his work, but also, perhaps above all, as a person who genuinely cared. I will not forget his warmth and sense of humour,  as well as his mentoring over the past 25 years. He is much missed. 

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