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Land Rights and Relations

Founder(s): EC; MAIL; World Bank; governments of Sweden and Switzerland
Status: Completed

“Land tenure has a significant influence on the agricultural sector, which in turn will be the cornerstone of rural development for the forseeable future.”
AREU’s work on land relations consists of a 2003-04 study on rural land conflict and a separate study examining the Afghan government’s capacity to resolve land disputes, which was completed in 2009.
Land and home ownership form critical platforms for individual and communal survival in Afghanistan. However, factors such as population growth and land-grabs by economic elites coupled with pre-existing tensions are currently driving an increasing level of land-use disputes in the country. These are compounded by legislation that often fails to fully reflect existing mechanisms of land ownership and access. The lack of legal distinction between community-owned and state land has left room for ethnically-linked and occasionally violent disputes between pastoralists and farmers—many of which date back to the late-19th century—to fester. In the light of research evidence, it is critical for the government to develop a greater understanding of the causes of such disputes, along with a more nuanced and flexible set of both central- and community-based mechanisms for dealing with disputes in a context-appropriate manner.

Publications from this research project:

Land, People, and the State in Afghanistan: 2002 – 2012

This paper reviews the formal treatment of land rights in Afghanistan over the post-Bonn decade (2002 – 2012). The objective is to document the developments in the recent past to better understand present and possible future trends.

Land Governance at the Crossroads: A Review of Afghanistan’s Proposed New Land Management Law

Afghanistan’s longstanding Land Management Law, last revised in 2008, is again under review. More than 100 amendments had been formally proposed by mid-2012. So far the proposed changes are mainly editorial and do not reform problematic fundamentals of the law. Read More

Proceedings of the Land Conflict Workshop held on 8 April 2009

Proceedings from a day-long land conflict workshop held on 8 April 2009 at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, which included 21 participants from 12 organisations involved in land conflict issues in Afghanistan.

Land Conflict in Afghanistan: Building Capacity to Address Vulnerability

This issues paper presents the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the “For Building Capacity to Address Land-Related Conflict and Vulnerability in Afghanistan” research project. The project’s overall objective was to help reduce land-related insecurity and vulnerability by strengthening the Afghan Read More

Looking for Peace on the Pastures: Rural Land Relations in Afghanistan

This paper synthesises the lessons learned from a study of land tenure relations in Bamiyan, Badakhshan and Faryab Provinces. It also offers recommendations on how to move forward from the existing muddle of land policy and law to engage in Read More

Rural Land Relations in Conflict: A Way Forward

This briefing paper draws upon case studies from Bamiyan, Badakhshan and Faryab Provinces to examine the tensions that exist around land use and ownership. It also offers recommendations to policymakers to assist in rectifying conflict over pasture lands.

Putting Rural Land Registration in Perspective: The Afghanistan Case

The thrust of land planning by the post-Taliban administration in Afghanistan is toward the establishment of nationwide registration of property rights. This objective typifies post-conflict strategising, reflecting the combined concerns to bring order to disorderly conditions and to establish the Read More

Land Relations in Bamyan Province: Findings from a 15 Village Case Study

Exploration and analysis of land relations in Afghanistan have been remarkably slight, both historically and in the present “post-conflict” period. This paper on Bamiyan Province is the first of a series of studies that were carried out in central, north-western, Read More

Land and the Constitution: Current Land Issues in Afghanistan

This briefing paper contains an overview of land tenure issues in Afghanistan in 2003, suggestions for moving forward on policy and legal issues, and detailed suggestions for two articles on land to be incorporated in the new Afghan constitution.

Land Rights in Crisis: Restoring Tenure Security in Afghanistan

Land tenure—the holding and transacting of land—has been peripheral in Afghanistan’s planning agenda. The new Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA) has not been particularly well-served by the assistance community in this area. Though a range of policy advisories have been issued Read More