Land rights are increasingly becoming a crucial human rights issue. The issue of land rights is central in pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict situations. For example, as illustrated by the situations in South Africa, Uganda, Guatemala or Zimbabwe, land issues and agrarian reforms are often at the centre of violent conflicts and as such are key elements in the transition from conflict to peace.
In June 2014 Prof. Jeremie Gilbert convened an international workshop on “Land Grabbing, Land Rights and Human Rights” which brought together scholars and practitioners to discuss the human rights dimensions of land rights and of land grabbing. The workshop reflected on the situation across the globe.
Subsequent to the workshop, a small Working Group of researchers from UEL, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and as formed with the aim of supporting the adoption of a General Comment on the right to land by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). The first step was to undertake a systematic review and compilation of relevant materials from across the UN system that make reference to land rights. Intended as a resource that the CESCR and other UN actors can draw on in framing a right to land, the aim of the research is both quantitative and qualitative: quantitative as it demonstrates how substantial the references to land rights have been throughout the work of the CESCR, in particular; qualitative as the research reveals which rights are used and referred to in connection with land rights and which rights-holders are specifically identified as requiring special attention when it comes to land rights. A synthesis of research findings is published in this report, which summarises the guidance with regard to human rights and land issues already elaborated by the CESCR and other UN bodies and mechanisms and highlights areas for special consideration in the process of elaborating a General Comment on the right to land.
The Working Group is now coordinating with a range civil society organisations and networks working and campaigning on land rights across the globe to lobby diplomats and UN experts, to highlight the importance of the issue and demonstrate global support for the evolution toward a ‘right to land’ under international human rights law. A Joint Statement urging the adoption of a General Comment by the CESCR was delivered at the Commitee's 58th Session in June 2016, with a briefing for Committee Members planned for the Autumn Session.News: Jeremie Gilbert Give Expert Witness Statement Before The Inter-American Courts of Human Rights
- Prof. Gilbert was invited to present a paper on “Secure Land Rights - Land as a Human Right?” by the Committee on Development of the European Union. The roundtable focused on the 2015 report ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World’, stressing the importance of ensuring access to land and securing tenure for local communities. Dr Gilbert highlighted the importance of recognising the rights to land of the most marginalised communities, notably small-scale farmers, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and women. Link.
- In February 2015, Prof. Gilbert delivered an expert witness statement before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a case concerning the Kaliña and Lokono indigenous peoples of Suriname and their land rights. The Community successfully won the case which was ruled in November 2016:http://www.corteidh.or.cr/CF/Jurisprudencia2/busqueda_casos_contenciosos.cfm
- Sally Holt has developed an e-learning course 'Addressing Disputes and Conflicts over the Tenure of Natural Resources' for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.