Decentralized Land Governance and Legal Pluralism in (post-)conflict Burundi

Conflict about land is increasingly seen as a core challenge for post-conflict peacebuilding. Land is a source of local and national conflict, while conflict strongly impacts land governing institutions. Many interventions to deal with land conflicts include support to decentralization. Thereby, responsibilities for managing land and resolving disputes are transferred to local authorities and institutions. Generally, decentralization is considered an important strategy for conflict transformation and state-building from below. Yet, in practice, decentralization appears to be an ambiguous process, and its contribution to peace-building is not evident. The interdisciplinary research programme ‘Grounding Land Governance’ investigates how land governance evolves in (post-)conflict situations, as an outcome of the interaction between multiple stakeholders, including international actors, government, traditional authorities, NGOs, and local people. Thereby, it looks in particular at how decentralization influences relations of governance, how it impacts the legitimacy and authority of local land tenure institutions, and how it affects the resolution of land conflicts. It builds around comparative analysis of case studies from Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan. In Burundi, my research focuses on how land governance reform, with respect to land dispute resolution and land rights registration, fuels into local practices of land governance, and how this affects the authority and legitimacy of prevailing institutions and their interrelations.

When (inter)national NGOs, local administration and local people meet to discuss state land property registration, Burundi, @Rosine Tchatchoua, 2014