Politics of Belonging and Exclusion: Investigating Land Tenure and Rights in Post Conflict States
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The past centuries have been characterized with some of the worst forms of conflicts and violence in many parts of the world. Most of these conflicts lead to the disruption in the way of life of people and reverses developmental progress made by states. In almost all cases, access to land and land tenure may be altered in one way or the other. After the conflict ceases or reduces, states find themselves in different situations. In addition, people may normally be forced to return to their homes as they are unable to get permanent residence in host countries or areas. This study sets out to explore the changes in land tenure that occur as a result of violent conflicts and efforts made by governments to address such changes. The study focused on providing logical explanations to the barriers people face in accessing land and land tenure security in post conflict settings. Using the case of Rwanda, the study tried to draw lessons on the role land contributed to shaping the genocide and how the Rwandan land tenure system was changed as a result of conflicts. Furthermore, the study reviewed the efforts made by the Rwandese government in trying to improve the land tenure system as well as promoting people’s land rights in post conflict Rwanda. The findings of the study reveal that even after land reforms and programmes have been implemented after the genocide or conflicts, some of the land related issues that can be considered as root causes of the conflict have not been addressed. In communities that are mostly dependant on land, which are the focus of this research, a lot of females and youth may remain without a base on which to rebuild their livelihood strategies. This leaves women, girls and youths unable to access a share of their husband or fathers estate. Development or humanitarian actors can play a role in ensuring that grievances over land before and after conflicts are addressed. Post conflict land reforms should provide an opportunity to deal with challenges related to land that existed before the conflict, those that emerged from the conflict and after peace has been reached.