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Renegotiating customary tenure reform: Land governance reform and tenure security in Uganda

By: Mathijs van Leeuwen

Institutional multiplicity in land governance describes a state of affairs in which state and customary institutions both enjoy a degree of legitimacy and authority, either from informal or formal sources, and thus engage in constant dispute over the norms and procedures to be enforced and the competencies of institutions. As demonstrated in this paper, land administration reforms often serve to exacerbate institutional multiplicity. Land reform in Uganda attempted to acknowledge customary land rights and institutions while also promoting formal land titling and registration. According to the author, the balancing act proved unsuccessful: the new norms, regulations, and institutional competencies were ambiguous and contradictory, which increased tenure insecurity and further confused the role of customary authorities. Landholders and communities recognized that the ambiguity of legislation and institutions meant that the protection of their land rights hinged largely upon political dynamics and the interests of powerful figures who could apply a diverse range of statutes and customary conventions at will.

Keywords: Land tenure reform, legal pluralism, institutional competition, customary tenure, local governance.

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Uploaded on: Jul 27, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 04, 2015
Year Published: 2014
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