Peace technologies of land

Since the late 1990s, there has been renewed interest among development and humanitarian professionals, donors, and multilateral organizations in the kind of land policies promoted for post-conflict societies. This novel preoccupation is the result of the increased scope and ambition of peacebuilding activities. In parallel, transnational policy circles were approaching the issue of land from the point of view of forced displacement, dispossession, and asset restitution. Lastly, it should not be forgotten that these policy discussions all took place in a context of mounting interest for land and agriculture in development assistance circles, which, through an expanded focus on the generic challenges of economic development and poverty alleviation, went well beyond post-conflict transition. Through these concurrent processes, land had become an integral facet of the discussion on post-conflict stabilization and development by the first half of the 2000s. It was integrated into the strategies of various international organizations, aid agencies, and NGOs, each adopting their own sectoral prism.

I examine three different peace technologies through three in-depth case studies:

  • Land governance: transformations in land governance, generally aiming to attribute larger responsibilities to community bodies, deemed to be representative of the local body politic, have been promoted in the name of pacification worldwide. I study the case of Liberia.
  • Land formalization: this policy has a long history in rural development, which goes well beyond post-conflict transition. In the specific field of peacebuilding policies, land formalization has been praised as a way of reducing the risk of lingering conflicts and promoting much-needed post-conflict development. I analyse land formalization in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Land restitution: this is probably the most formalized and standardized policy in the field. The production of international standards, the judicialization of transitional justice, and the existence of advocacy actors who invest substantial resources in researching and producing ‘best practices’ explain this high degree of formalization. I study the implementation of land restitution in Colombia between 2011 and today.

Some outputs of this project include: