Stability and development

Volatile landscapes: the impact of explosive remnants of war on land rights in conflict affected countries.

West-Africa East Africa, Europe, Middle East,
McGill University
Ukraine Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen,

Explosive remnants of war (ERW) 1 and clearance have a fundamental impact on land rights in countries recovering from war. While land, property and territorial issues are widely recognized as central features of wars and are critical to recovery of livelihoods and economies, the intersection between ERW and land rights remains unexamined. Land mine laying strategies highlight the highly spatial nature of violent conflict, particularly civil conflicts in developing countries. Used offensively in area denial, social disruption, ethnic cleansing and competition for high value land resources such as diamonds, or defensively as a deterrent to enemy incursion and protection of specific locations, or abandoned as UXO, the legacy of ERW after wars interacts with changing tenure dynamics during recovery. Mine action (identification, clearance, risk education, victim assistance, land release, etc.) can cause land conflicts, facilitate land grabbing, deflect development efforts and support one side in a war over another—all often inadvertently and without awareness on the part of mine action organizations. This article describes the important linkages between land rights and ERW in war affected contexts. It aims to deepen awareness within broad mine action, development and academic communities about these linkages and provide guidance on how to effectively mainstream land rights issues into mine action operations.

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