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Unformatted text preview: Land Policy Reform, Customary Rule of Law and the Peace Process in Sierra Leone Jon Unruh Abstract Armed conflict is particularly destructive to socio-legal relations regarding land and property. Reconstruction priorities increasingly include the reform of property legislation as part of efforts to address the causes and reasons for continuation of conflicts. However, a pervasive problem is that postwar laws are extremely difficult to connect with informal on-the-ground developments regarding perceptions of spatially-based rights as populations pursue livelihoods, grievances and aspirations. Left unattended, the problem constitutes a potential flashpoint for a return to conflict. This article examines this connection for postwar Sierra Leone, in order to highlight issues and questions of potential utility. The stakes are high for successfully connecting postwar land tenure laws with informal socio-legal realities. For Sierra Leone, a primary issue is the presence of a large population without access to land, tenure insecurity discouraging investment, large-scale food insecurity and rural unemployment while significant swathes of arable and previously cultivated land stands idle. Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geography, McGill University, Montral, Canada. His current research interests focus on postwar land and property rights in Africa. He has published widely in those areas and worked with the UN and other donors as well as governments on postwar land tenure reform in Africa. 2008. The Africa Law Institute. All rights reserved. Cite as: 2 Afr. J. Legal Stud. 2 (2005) 94-117. The African Journal of Legal Studies (AJLS) is a free peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary journal published by The Africa Law Institute (ALawI). ALawIs mission is to engage in policy-oriented research that promotes human rights, good governance, democracy and the rule of law in Africa. The views expressed in the articles and other contributions to the AJLS are those of the authors only, not of our Editorial or Consultative Boards or ALawI. To download or comment on current articles, sign-up for future issues or submit a manuscript, please visit <http://www.africalawinstitute.org/ajls> or e- mail firstname.lastname@example.org. AJLS is also available on CIAO Net, HeinOnline, Lexis-Nexis, ProQuest, Quicklaw and Westlaw. The journal welcomes books for review and inquiries from experts wishing to serve on our consultative board. E-mail Charles Chernor Jalloh, Founding Editor-in-Chief, at email@example.com . 2 Afr. J. Leg. Stud. 2 (2008) 94-117 I. Introduction Land and Property Rights in Postwar Reconstruction The success of often volatile land and property restitution efforts within a peace process, as well as the prospects for displaced persons and ex-combatant reintegration, food security, and economic recovery, hinge on positive outcomes resulting from the mix of informal, emerging perceptions of land and property rights, and new postwar legislation. Such legislation is usually an attempt at rights, and new postwar legislation....
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