Week 4: land rights

Date: 07/31/2018     By: Justice For All


This post is part of 10 Weeks of Action: Demanding funding and protection for grassroots justice defenders by calling on our community to sign the #JusticeForAll petition. Each week, we will spotlight how access to justice is critical to the advancement of different thematic issues.


An estimated 2.5 billion people around the world world’s population—depend on community-held lands to survive and thrive. But many lack legal titles to the land, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and eviction by those more powerful. In many cases, communities are displaced by companies and resource extraction projects, leaving them without a home or livelihood.

According to the World Resources Institute, communities are disproportionately impacted by land rights issues over companies because procedures are burdensome and inaccessibile, formalization processes often result in restricted rights and risks, communities are restricted in practice, and regulatory and policy frameworks favor investors.

Land documentation can help communities demand their legal rights and help avoid eviction or exploitation. Grassroots justice defenders help communities realize their rights, including entitlements to land and property. They work closely with communities to understand the issue, and seek options to help them understand their rights and the law and secure land rights documentation to help protect their homes and livelihoods.

Justice defenders working to help communities realize their land rights are chronically underfunded and exposed to threats, harassment, or worse. That action fund and protect land rights grassroots justice defenders by signing the petition.


Sign the Petition

Tell world leaders to fund and protect justice defenders.

We, the world’s justice defenders and citizens, call on world leaders to keep their promise, made at the United Nations, to ensure all people have equal access to justice. Only by funding and protecting grassroots justice defenders can we make justice, not injustice, the norm. The moment is now. It is time to tip the scales towards #JusticeForAll.

The number of signatures will be shared with governments during the UN General Assembly in September 2018.



The facts

  • Around the world, 370 million indigenous peoples are at risk of having their ancestral lands unjustly taken from them. (UN)
  • Almost 2.5 billion people—a third of the world’s population—depend on community-held lands for their livelihoods and subsistence. But many lack legal titles to the land, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and eviction by those more powerful. (RRI)
  • Women own less than 20% of the world’s land. In more than half the countries in the world, laws or customs limit women’s land rights and with it, their chance to escape poverty. (Source)


How justice defenders are tackling the issue

  • In Kenya, justice defenders at IMPACT work with indigenous communities who have had been displaced their ways of life threatened in the name of development, national security, wildlife conservation and environmental protection. IMPACT works with communities to defend their land rights and prevent the exploitation of resources. Read their Spark of Hope Story here.
  • In Sierra Leone, local chiefs in Nimiyama Chiefdom, Sierra Leone sold 70 families’ lands to a Chinese rubber company without their permission. Grassroots Justice defenders from Namati helped those affected to understand that the act was not only unfair, it was illegal. Together, the residents and justice defenders used the law and got the land back. The High Court of Sierra Leone ordered the Chinese company to pay the families for their land.
  • In the Amazon in Brazil, the government has been building infrastructure projects to harness the power of water located in the region. Hydro-electric dams flood large areas of land, displacing indigenous community to live and work on that land. The grassroots justice organization Movimento Ipereg Ayu has built a movement with the of Brazilian Amazon communities protecting indigenous lands from destructive dams. The movement helps members of their community to stand as one against common threats and in favour of sustainable, culturally appropriate development. Read their Spark of Hope Story here.


Additional resources