Impacts of Private Land Titling in Indigenous Communities in Cambodia

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Photo courtesy of firstpeoples.org
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) has released a new publication in collaboration with the Ratanakiri Communal Land Titling Working Group entitled “Directive 01BB in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia: Issues and impacts of private land titling in indigenous communities“. AIPP introduces the research with the following description: “Asia has more than 200 million indigenous people who have maintained their lands, territories and resources sustainably for centuries. Land grabbing in the name of ‘development’ however, is taking place at an alarming rate, further increasing indigenous peoples’ marginalization, denying them of the material base for their distinct cultures and identities, and threatening their collective survival.

The situation in Cambodia exemplifies this issue. It deserves public attention and urgent government action. The current state of affairs needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency as indigenous peoples are being coerced to acquire private titles and sell them to make way for economic land concessions. Private titles are not consistent with the customary land tenure arrangements of indigenous peoples. They do not recognize the collective nature of indigenous communities, are limited to an area that is insufficient for traditional agricultural practices, and include other conditions that make them inappropriate.

Policies in practice have resulted in greater loss of land rather than secured the collective land tenure of indigenous peoples. While Cambodia has a law that recognizes the land rights of indigenous peoples, implementation has been weak and selective. In particular, the Cambodian government’s issue of economic land concessions on indigenous peoples’ lands has often been conducted in a manner that directly violates indigenous rights.

At the global level, indigenous peoples’ customary right to traditional land ownership has been formalized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the Cambodian government in 2007, which sets out the minimum standards for the recognition of the collective rights of indigenous peoples as the basis for social justice and achieving equality. This international human rights instrument affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories, and resources, as well as to their self-determined development. The legal and full recognition of these rights at the local and national levels remains imperative for indigenous peoples’ survival and dignity.”

The report is available in English and Khmer.

25 April 2013

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