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Legal empowerment in practice. Using legal tools to secure land rights in Africa

edited by Lorenzo Cotula and Paul Mathieu

Report/paper, 152 pages

In recent years, many legal services organisations have developed innovative ways for using legal processes to help disadvantaged groups have more secure rights over their land. The approaches, tools and methods used vary widely across contexts - from legal literacy training to paralegals programmes; from participatory methodologies to helping local groups register their lands or negotiate with government or the private sector, through to legal representation and strategic use of public interest litigation.

While some of this experience has been documented, much of it has not. Only a very limited part of this experience has fed into international debates, and there have been few opportunities for lesson-sharing and cross-fertilisation among practitioners.

In March 2008, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the International Institute for Environment and Development, and the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana jointly organised an international workshop to promote exchange of experience among practitioners. Over the two days of the workshop, some 25 practitioners from different parts of Africa, together with a few practitioners and researchers from international institutions and from Europe, shared lessons and learned from each others' experiences with legal empowerment. This report captures the highlights of workshop discussions and was produced under IIED’s Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

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