Land Rights In Transition
Through its research and advocacy, the SSLS sheds light on the interplay between land and power in postwar South Sudan. The SSLS has documented recent reforms in South Sudanese land law, efforts to establish an industrial mining sector, and provisions for revenue sharing in the oil sector. SSLS legal aid clinics also provide legal services to individuals and groups seeking to protect their land rights against infringements by state or non-state actors.
Among the SSLS’s key initiatives is advocacy around the challenges and opportunities posed by large-scale land-based investment in South Sudan. Recent studies indicate that in just four years, between the start of 2007 and the end of 2010, foreign interests sought or acquired a total of 2.64 million hectares of land (26,400 km2) in the agriculture, forestry and biofuel sectors alone. That is a larger land area than the entire country of Rwanda. Adding domestic investments, some of which date back to the pre-war period, and investments in tourism and conservation, the figure rises to 5.15 million hectares (51,500 km2), or nine percent of Southern Sudan’s total land area.
SSLS advocacy has highlighted the risks posed by unregulated investments in fragile post-conflict settings, such as that of South Sudan. The Research Department has also developed a Handbook on Community Engagement, as a tool to promote constructive relationships between communities, companies and government institutions involved with land investments.
For more information on SSLS research and advocacy on this issue, visit our Resources page.