The aim in the Colombian peace process of restituting 6 million ha of agricultural land to the estimated 3.5 million IDPs has become even more realistic with the ongoing peace negotiations between FARC and the Colombian government. Historically individual property rights in Colombia are unclear as most peasants lack formal title deeds to the parcels. The Santos government demonstrates real political will to return land to the original owners, but also to introduce gender equality through joint landownership between the original spouses of the household. However, there are many pitfalls that might derail the implementation of the Victims’ Law passed in 2011. This project (i) will follow the implementation process closely in order to monitor progress (or lack thereof) and provide accurate information for both national and international policy makers, and (ii) conduct a household survey on land rights and gender to clarify the problems that might affect the process as well to establish a baseline to measure impact of land restitution at a later stage.
The project is managed by Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research (NIBR) in collaboration with National University (UN) and University of the North in Colombia. NIBR is an independent applied research institute with a right to chose methodology as well as publish the results without control or consent from the institution or individual that finances the project. Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which finances this project, can hence not be held accountable for neither results nor analysis published by the researchers.
The formulation of a new law is only the initial stage in a process of land restitution. In general Latin American laws, and Colombian in particular, signal political intentions rather than being rules that are generally agreed upon in society; their actual implementation faces many challenges. If rushed through without public debate, laws are later resisted at various levels in what is perceived as illegitimate political processes. The introduction of a law on gender equality in agriculture is a good example of the lack of broad consultation in Colombia. In this case an NGO lobbied the ministry directly instead of issuing a public hearing note available to all stakeholders. The public were not informed of joint titling aspect before the Victims law was approved by Congress; indeed, public awareness is still very limited..
Our aim is to follow the process of land restitution closely in several interrelated dimensions in order to find out how restitution and the integrated titling process impact IDPs. Our main research questions are as follows:
1. How does the implementation of the Victims’ Law affect land property distribution in the countryside?
2. What land property rights are given to women?
3. Who were active stakeholders in the policy formulation process?
Who are the drivers and the spoilers in the implementation process? A parallel example in Norway is the change of land inheritance rights from the first born son to the first born child of any sex. This law was discussed for 20 years followed by a transition period of another 20 years before the law applied in all circumstances. Such stepwise and signaled reform makes it easier for people to adapt their expectations ex-ante, and hence reduce the risk that various levels of government would derail the reform.
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