Going home: land and property issues

FMR 7
April 2000

Scott Leckie, director of the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, joins us as Guest Editor for our feature section on land and property rights of displaced people. In his introduction, he stresses: “Few procedures are more complex, subject to controversy and difficult to implement than ensuring that those who have a right to return to their original homes are actually allowed to do so.” The eight articles that follow illustrate this point from around the world and draw out recommendations for building awareness and encouraging better practice in the future.

Contents

Scott Leckie

Issues around restitution of housing and property to refugees and the internally displaced wishing to return to their original homes have attracted increasing attention in recent years.

Catherine Phuong

The Dayton Peace Agreement, signed in November 1995, explicitly put property issues at the heart of the return process and the overall peace framework for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Guy Hovey

In 1997, the US State Department’s Bureau for Population and Refugee Migration funded two pilot projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, each providing for the rehabilitation of 40 homes (20 for Serbs and 20 for Muslims) and the return of pre-war owners and families to the town of Sipovo in the Republika Srpska (RS) entity of Bosnia.

Scott Leckie

Armed conflict in Kosovo in 1998-1999 led to the destruction of tens of thousands of homes and the mass occupation of abandoned homes as refugees were repatriated.

Ratan Gazmere and Dilip Bishwo

The Bhutanese government disputes the citizenship of the 96,000 Bhutanese refugees currently in Nepalese refugee camps. A new project – the Documentation of Bhutanese Refugees – sets out to disprove their argument.

Leilani Farha

For many women, rights to land, property and housing are essential to their livelihood and survival, and this is particularly so in the aftermath of war and conflict.

Jon Bennett

Forced relocation or ‘regroupement’ is the forced movement of entire communities, usually by a government, to permanent or semi-permanent sites often directly or indirectly under the control of military units. This is ostensibly to protect the population from political insurgency; in reality, it is more often a means of depopulating whole areas as part of counter-insurgency tactics employed by a government.

Georges Assaf and Rana El-Fil

Internal and regional conflicts have led to massive and repeated waves of displacement in Lebanon.

General articles

Nicholas Van Hear

Over the last three decades, refugee crises have resulted in the dispersal of substantial numbers of people from the world’s trouble spots. While much interest has focused on the effects of their presence in the countries that host them, these ‘new diasporas’ can also influence profoundly what happens at home.

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