This article was originally published by Thompson Reuters Foundation.
The government of Liberia has an unprecedented opportunity to pass progressive land reform legislation that could positively impact millions of people, but the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. If Liberia’s legislature doesn’t vote to adopt the draft Land Rights Act before it goes on recess on August 30, the bill will likely stall during the 2017 election year and face an uncertain future when a new government assumes office in 2018.
A working group of Liberian civil society organizations has cautioned that failure to pass the Land Rights Act could plunge Liberia into violence and conflict. This is not empty rhetoric: Conflict over land and natural resources were one of the root causes of Liberia’s 14-year civil war that ravaged the country. The civil war, which continued virtually uninterrupted from 1989 to 2003, killed 270,000 people, displaced almost 80 percent of the population, ruined the economy, and threatened to destabilize the region. More than a decade later, Liberia is beginning to emerge from the crisis period, and has turned its attention to needed reforms.
Restructuring the country’s outdated and broken land rights system is a keystone to these reforms. In the post-conflict period, a new land rights policy was met with optimism when it was introduced in 2013, and received the support of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The proposed reforms would recognize customary land rights for millions of rural Liberians. But the policy means little without passage of the Land Rights Act, which would turn its promises into enforceable law.
The majority of Liberia’s land is held under customary tenure systems that aren’t legally recognized by the government. The government has thus directly awarded logging, mining and agricultural concessions to 40,000 square kilometers of land. This overlap between concessions and customary rights has created confusion and conflict. Legal recognition and documentation of customary land rights is a starting point for helping to protect the rights of those living, using and depending on the land, and also the interests of investors.
Fortunately, there’s an avenue that can create peace and prosperity for Liberia and its people: securing the land rights for customary communities. Global evidence shows that secure land rights provide the foundation for economic opportunity for small farmers, and have been associated with gains in food production and food security, as well as improvements in health, education, and household income. Stronger land rights can also stimulate Liberia’s economy — a global study of 33 countries has linked stronger property rights with a 5 percent increase in GDP. Liberia’s new Land Rights Act, once adopted, will set Liberia on a path toward achieving such benefits of securing land rights.
Liberia is at a crossroads. Amid allegations of corruption and pressure to pass a diluted land rights bill or dismiss reform altogether, it will take immense political will for Liberia to enact meaningful change. If the legislature passes the Land Rights Act, it will empower millions of Liberians with the economic and social benefits that come with secure land tenure, and position Liberia as a leader on land reform in West Africa. If it fails to act, it risks backsliding into the violence and conflict that marked its recent past.
Last updated January 30, 2013.
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Welcome to the namati.org website (the “Site”) and the Legal Empowerment Network Forum (the “Forum”) operated by Namati, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Namati”, “we”, “us” or “our”). We share your concern about the protection of your personal information online.
This Policy describes our privacy practices and sets out your obligations and ours with respect to your use of the Site and the Forum. This Policy applies only to the Site and the Forum and does not necessarily apply to our offline collection of information.
Namati may collect and retain two types of information about Site and Forum visitors: (i) personal information that individual visitors voluntarily provide when interacting on the Site or Forum or on certain other occasions (such as via forms or in emails); and (ii) tracking data, which is data that is automatically collected from every Site and Forum visitor as they use and browse the site.
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Namati is concerned about the privacy protection of children who access the Internet and this website is not intended for children and we do not knowingly collect data relating to children. Accordingly, the Site and Forum are not intended for use by anyone under the age of 16, and we do not knowingly collect information from anyone under 16 years of age without the consent of a parent or guardian.
We reserve the right to disclose any information to comply with any law, regulation, decree, judgment, order, subpoena or any other governmental order (“Order”) without any obligation to contest or verify the accuracy of such Order.
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Washington, DC 20036, USA
It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal data changes during your relationship with us.
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Request access to your personal data (commonly known as a “data subject access request”). This enables you to receive a copy of the personal data we hold about you and to check that we are lawfully processing it.
Request correction of the personal data that we hold about you. This enables you to have any incomplete or inaccurate data we hold about you corrected, though we may need to verify the accuracy of the new data you provide to us.
Request erasure of your personal data. This enables you to ask us to delete or remove personal data where there is no good reason for us continuing to process it. You also have the right to ask us to delete or remove your personal data where you have successfully exercised your right to object to processing (see below), where we may have processed your information unlawfully or where we are required to erase your personal data to comply with local law. Note, however, that we may not always be able to comply with your request of erasure for specific legal reasons which will be notified to you, if applicable, at the time of your request.
Object to processing of your personal data where we are relying on a legitimate interest (or those of a third party) and there is something about your particular situation which makes you want to object to processing on this ground as you feel it has an impact on your fundamental rights and freedoms. You also have the right to object where we are processing your personal data for direct marketing purposes. In some cases, we may demonstrate that we have compelling legitimate grounds to process your information which override your rights and freedoms.
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Request the transfer of your personal data to you or to a third party. We will provide to you, or a third party you have chosen, your personal data in a structured, commonly used, machine-readable format. Note that this right only applies to automated information which you initially provided consent for us to use or where we used the information to perform a contract with you.
Withdraw consent at any time where we are relying on consent to process your personal data. However, this will not affect the lawfulness of any processing carried out before you withdraw your consent. If you withdraw your consent, we may not be able to provide certain products or services to you. We will advise you if this is the case at the time you withdraw your consent.
You will not have to pay a fee to access your personal data (or to exercise any of the other rights). However, we may charge a reasonable fee if your request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive. Alternatively, we could refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances.
We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access your personal data (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is a security measure to ensure that personal data is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it. We may also contact you to ask you for further information in relation to your request to speed up our response.
We try to respond to all legitimate requests within one month. Occasionally it could take us longer than a month if your request is particularly complex or you have made a number of requests. In this case, we will notify you and keep you updated.
If you live in an EEA Member State, all of which have adopted the EU GDPR and national , you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority about this policy and its application. The European Commission has a list of EU national data protection authorities here:
If you live in the United Kingdom, you have a right to lodge a complaint with your relevant supervisory authority, the ICO, about this policy and its application:
The Policy was updated in July 2022 to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations.