Parallel session recap: Justice at the heart of land governance - envisioning the intersections of informal justice with land conflict, climate vulnerability, and food insecurity | Land Portal

In the context of the joint IOS-Fair Transitions-LANDac International Conference, the parallel session on Justice at the heart of land governance: Envisioning the intersections of informal justice with land conflict, climate vulnerability, and food insecurity took place on June 30th, 2023.  

The session was organized by the International Development Law Organization and VVI at Leiden University focused on the role of customary and informal justice actors in addressing land conflict. Please see a brief recap of each of the parallel session's main perspectives to get a glimpse at the full captivating conversation. 

Inequitable access to land and natural resources is both a driver of and manifestation of structural and social violence, exacerbating the injustices, insecurities, and exclusion experienced by people vulnerable to the adverse effects of the climate crisis and growing food insecurity. The panel discussion, co-convened by IDLO and VVI at Leiden University, addressed the question: How can informal institutions deliver pathways to land justice, reduce land conflict, and contribute to strengthening climate action and transformation of food systems?  Panellists shared stories and research insights on how access to justice and the rule of law as embodied in customary and community-based processes can prevent or mitigate violent conflict over land in a context of climate-driven scarcities and food insecurity.

The session's key takeaways included: 

  • Contestation over women’s land rights is a key driver of conflict at all levels, and it will be through grassroots organizing to claim rights and integration of women into customary and informal justice processes that those rights are realized; 
  • Customary actors can play an effective role in land dispute mediation and land registration processes, but may not be incentivized or able to challenge embedded power relations (especially in regard to women’s rights) or resist the lure of corruption; 
  • There is a need for conflict-sensitive practices to be mainstreamed across land governance institutions—both in the informal sector and in state land registration and management mechanisms

Notable quote from the session: “We need customary and other informal institutions to integrate a feminist approach to land governance that ensures the meaningful participation and empowerment of justice seekers including women” – Fridah Gituku, GROOTS Kenya

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