Comparative Perspectives on Communal Lands and Individual Ownership: Sustainable Futures

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The current tension lays bare the dysfunctional workings of the Peruvian government.

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One of the objectives behind opening the land to private agri-businesses was to promote large-scale farming of bioenergy crops as part of a National Bioenergy Plan that emphasizes development of available land for biofuel production. But normal day-to-day operations of existing oil and gas producers have suffered, and the future development of the oil and gas industry is now in the balance.

Together with mining, oil and gas is again being blamed for everything that goes wrong in the Amazon. It is true that the industry does not have a squeaky clean environmental and social record. But an important effort was being made by all sides, particularly in the area of increased dialogue, to correct mistakes and lay the groundwork for better impact management and benefit distribution.

Now, with most of the gains of the earlier dialogue lost, future Amazon investment is in doubt. A robust economic sector was sacrificed for the benefit of agri-business development including, most notably, biofuel development—an industry whose viability and advantages are questionable at best. As a result, the odds against any attempts by new industries to settle in the region have increased significantly.

Peruvian Indigenous Land Conflict Explained | AS/COA

In what may be a precursor of future developments, a Brazilian consortium looking at hydroelectricity development on the Inambari River as part of a recently signed Peru-Brazil cooperation and integration agreement is already facing local resistance. Indigenous organizations are well organized and support for their cause is increasing inside and outside Peru. If any development is to take place in the Amazon, the government will have to play by the rules, or face increasing opposition and missed opportunities.

The executive is sending out mixed signals, opening the door for further tensions. Instead, the best way forward is through good-faith dialogue and timely consultation—an area where MINEM and the Ombudsman Office should reassert their role for the benefit of the indigenous people and Peruvian development. The Palestine Yearbook of International Law has become widely respected as a prime reference source of legal material relating to Palestinian issues and is an important forum for the international legal community, particularly for legal practitioners, researchers and scholars.

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Author: Harry Gelber. This collection of essays explores different dimensions of the relationship between the third world and international law. The topics covered include third world approaches to international law, non-state actors and developing countries, feminism and the third world, foreign investment, resistance and international law, and territorial disputes and native peoples. This initiative seeks to continue and further develop the important work that has been done over many decades, particularly by scholars and jurists from the third world, to construct an international law which is sensitive to the needs of third world peoples.

This body of scholarship has attempted to extend and expand the concerns and materials of international law. The essays in this volume are animated by these same motives at a time when unprecedented issues confront third world peoples, particularly since the contemporary international system appears to be disempowering third world peoples, intensifying inequality between the North and the South, and indeed, importantly, within the North and the South. TWAIL scholars attempt to look afresh at the history of colonial international law, engage previous trends in third world scholarship in international law, take cognizance of the dramatic changes which have characterized the body of international law in the last few decades from the perspective of third world peoples, record their resistance to unjust and oppressive international laws, and advance new approaches that address their needs and concerns.

These are the broad themes and concerns which animate this collection of essays. The encroachment of farming onto pastoral land has led to several conflicts, notably over livestock routes that have become blocked by farmers. The chief is the prime arbitrator of land- use conflicts, sometimes in collaboration with the Imam. Negotiated outcomes include fines issued for trespass or crop damage.

More severe conflicts are sometimes sent up to Provincial leaders and state agencies, but this is rare.

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A conflict in concerned pastoral space. It emerged that the chief was actually authorizing the sale of land in the communal grazing areas, and thereby generating a small income. In the face of this the Cadre de Concertation did not act decisively. The chief attempted to destabilize the institution so that he could continue to make short-term profit while in the long term reassert his political power, including over land-use decisions.

The members responded by rounding against him, using arguments about environmental protection as well as the need for accountability and democracy. The development project, the PSB, was surprised by the speed at which these reactions accelerated Soura This example shows how conflicts can escalate, especially when local land-use pressures rise in this case from new arrivals and new grazing pressures.

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  • At the same time, a range of mechanisms come into play, including consensual decision making, in opposition to the modern concept of land sales. The problem of control over grazing lands was really a question of power and the assertion of rights and control.

    In Bouloye-Tiouli new actors, including the PSB, find themselves relatively powerless to act, lacking the local legitimacy of the chief and his supporters. If powers are devolved to the traditional institution, the chieftaincy, there would be a lack of accountability and trust.

    If devolved to non-traditional institutions, like the CdC set up by PSB, this is seen to usurp traditional authority structures. This is the central tension faced in a country in which chiefly powers are still respected, but in the new context of party political institutions Hagberg Nonetheless, pressures on natural resources continue to grow, and some hybrid form of regulatory authority is probably essential in this and other cases. Modern-day decentralization The debate over governance and over the scale, and form, of the manage- ment of land and natural resources in these three studies has been partially removed from local actors by recent government decisions.

    A dissonance between formal and informal institutions, therefore, opens up possibilities for the manipulation of an ostensibly democratic process. Political decentralization can have uncertain and contingent effects on local political institutions and resource management. Some clues about how full-scale decentralized reforms may change the balance of power and actors roles can be understood by looking carefully at the long engagement of the rural periphery with government, NGOs, and bilateral projects in rural areas.

    The latter have been important in their own right as agents of social change, as I have shown in the three cases above Bierschenk et al.

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    Unless there is downward accountability of local leaders and checks on elites and strong political actors, decentralization risks adding another set of actors that farmers and pastoralists have to negotiate with, that they try to co-opt or bypass in order to secure access to resources without significant costs to themselves. This process places state representatives out in rural areas, but can exclude local people and their leaders from participa- tion in government.

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    While customary control over land-use decisions has not yet been seriously challenged, property disputes have now become an issue for local government. Almost all land is, according to the RAF, the property of the state in Burkina Faso, and rural communities have unencumbered rights to use it. In addition, there is provision to transfer land to private title or to local authorities.

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    In , a new Constitution, following Presidential elections, begun legal decentralization, and the Commission Nationale de la Decentralisation CND was created in as a non-political government entity. The CVDs will sit under them and may, in worst cases, be controlled by them. In sum, this new arrangement with a new set of annoying acronyms sits quite far from the lofty goals of the CND, set up 15 years ago, that called for an autonomous set of local bodies. Newly installed as agents of the state, some mayors are now complaining that there is little flow of resources to their districts.

    Sawadogo and Stamm reported nine years ago that there was little dissatisfaction with traditional methods of land tenure allocation among the Mossi of Bam Province, and therefore little need to formalize or modernize existing cus- tomary arrangements. The decentralization process needs to allow room for manoeuvre and for benefits to continue flowing to traditional authorities, notably chieftaincies.

    For the new leaders aligned with the ruling party, the potential material benefits of office can be real, and this poses dangers Engberg-Pedersen ; Hagberg A group of schoolteachers I met in Bam in made a prophetic com- ment: that they foresaw little change in rural conditions if villages were suddenly given the right to collect their own taxes and to elect mayors or local leaders.

    Those options are always available in a rural hinterland where land transfers are still, largely, conducted according to tradition, and opportunities for income generation are still quite small — hence the large stream of out migrants. In other words, whatever the complex structure of rural governance, localities will find ways to manoeuvre through and around them. And yet, as long as customary leadership still plays a role, rural people seem to welcome political decentralization. In the Mossi villages I know well, any attack on a respected local leader could set off more disputes than it solves unless it is unanimous.

    However, there will be real problems in implementing decen- tralization in poor or marginal regions, including in the three communities discussed above. The contemporary situation is characterized by a variety of social actors juggling resources and power Lund ; Ouedraogo The challenge is to provide some locally- welcomed support, in the form of finance, regulatory certainty over land access, conflict management, or technical support for land management.

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    For many years in rural Burkina Faso, international donors have been the main source of this support, and this has led to political games being played to capture the resulting benefits of their programs Batterbury ; Engberg-Pedersen I have shown that the earlier gestion des terroirs approach to land management had several advantages.

    Indeed it was recog- nized and given more formal political status through the CVGT for a few years. It worked quite well in communities with a strong degree of social cohesion, and with relatively straightforward agrarian systems and land rights, as the Ibi case shows. Here, strong environmental management pro- grams were undertaken in the context of relatively secure land rights and with full participation of customary leaders. And yet where rights to land are contested, overlapping, and shared between multiple users and pastoralists as at Toessin , the same environ- mental interventions have only succeeded because the local population took part in these activities for their own political reasons, and have used them to assist in their struggles for better community resources and secure land rights to buttress against their neighbors.

    The GTV approach was designed to operate as a communal activity. And yet, things have moved on. Decentralization is the new mantra in Africa and beyond. As state-sponsored political decentralization has become more widespread, we can anticipate that the local politics of envi- ronmental management, so visible in the s, are now extending to the new and exciting possibility of local representation by elected officials. While decentralization can in principle achieve benefits for natural resource management, this is unlikely to be unproblematic. A warning is offered by the Bouloye-Tiouli case, in which the boundaries between public land and private gain became blurred.

    There are plenty of other cases where the accountability of local leaders is to themselves, to political parties, or to urban elites, rather than to the local residents they are supposed to be representing Benjaminsen ; Engberg-Pedersen ; Goheen ; Manor ; Ribot and Veit Harsh details rising levels of protest against local govern- ment, with 49 urban protests in alone. He also details cases of local corruption by municipal officials, who can achieve private wealth through public service. I think that the slow arrival of political decentralization through elected officers has offered some degree of community engagement and cohesion.

    This was also present in the GTV approach. But sufficient government resources are not yet in place to enact the required development actions, pending multilateral loans and govern- ment transfers. Frankly, it is likely to be a very long time before we see a harmonious localization of development gains, given the slim possibility of raising taxation, and there is a strong possibility of politicized appointments Batterbury and Fernando In these debates over effective governance for the rural Sahel, it matters who represents the local population — and whether these leaders have local interests at heart Berry ; Ouedraogo ; Harsch The elec- tion of local officials to a new layer of local government has been highly politicized and as of it has strengthened the hand of the ruling politi- cal party.

    Government functionaries, ex-functionaries, and business people have now been elected to office Hagberg ; Jacob These individuals have legality, but not always legitimacy, in the eyes of the local population Ouedraogo Many local citizens regard such imposed institutions as irrelevant and annoying Sawadogo and Stamm The present efforts to install accountable institutions for the management of land and property will have a long struggle to assert themselves. New migration streams have emerged, most recently to Algeria and Libya.