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Land law is the form of
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
that deals with the
rights Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...
to use, alienate, or exclude others from
land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists mainly of Earth's crust, crustal components such a ...
. In many jurisdictions, these kinds of
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, r ...
are referred to as
real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more genera ...

real estate
or
real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improvements or Fixture (property law), fixtures) integr ...
, as distinct from
personal property Personal property is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the ...
.
Land use Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all life, living and non-living things occurring nature, naturally, meaning in this case not Artificiality, artifi ...
agreements, including
renting Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temporary use of a good, service or property owned by another. A gross lease is when the Tenement (law), tenant pays a flat rental amount and the landl ...
, are an important intersection of property and
contract law A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...
.
Encumbrance An encumbrance is a third party's right to, interest in, or legal liability Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, s ...
on the land rights of one, such as an
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
, may constitute the land rights of another.
Mineral rights Mineral rights are property rights to exploit an area for the minerals In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , ...
and
water rights Water right in water law Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere an ...
are closely linked, and often interrelated concepts. Land rights are such a basic form of law that they develop even where there is no state to enforce them; for example, the
claim club Claim clubs, also called actual settlers' associations or squatters' clubs, were a nineteenth-century phenomenon in the American West The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the region In geograp ...
s of the
American West The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the List of regions of the United States#Census Bureau-designated regions and divisions, region comprising the westernmost U.S. state, states of the United ...

American West
were institutions that arose organically to enforce the system of rules appurtenant to mining.
Squatting Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use. The United Nations The United Nations ( ...

Squatting
, the occupation of land without ownership, is a globally ubiquitous phenomenon.


National sovereignty

Sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
, in
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
jurisdictions, is often referred to as absolute title,
radical title Allodial title constitutes ownership of real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvemen ...
, or
allodial title Allodial title constitutes ownership of real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvemen ...
. Nearly all of these jurisdictions have a system of
land registration Land registration is any of various systems by which matters concerning ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be any asset, including an object, land or real estate, intellectual proper ...
, to record
fee simple In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in writte ...
interests, and a
land claim A land claim is defined as "the pursuit of recognized territorial ownership by a group or individual". The phrase is usually only used with respect to disputed or unresolved land claims. Some types of land claims include Aboriginal title, aborigina ...
process to resolve disputes.


Land rights

Indigenous land rights Indigenous land rights are the rights Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounde ...
are recognized by
international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of anal ...
, as well as the national legal systems of common law and
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
countries. In common law jurisdictions, the land rights of
indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...
are referred to as
aboriginal title Aboriginal title is a common law doctrine that the Indigenous land rights, land rights of indigenous peoples to customary land, customary tenure persist after the assumption of sovereignty under settler colonialism. The requirements of proof for ...
. In
customary law A legal custom is the established pattern of behavior that can be objectively verified within a particular social setting. A claim can be carried out in defense of "what has always been done and accepted by law". Customary law (also, consuetudina ...
jurisdictions,
customary land Customary land is land which is owned by indigenous communities Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicit ...
is the predominant form of land ownership.
Land reform Land reform is a form of agrarian reformAgrarian reform can refer either, narrowly, to government-initiated or government-backed redistribution of agricultural land Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture Agricult ...

Land reform
refers to government policies that take and/or redistribute land, such as a
land grant A land grant is a gift of real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resource , Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitution ...
. Land rights refer to the inalienable ability of individuals to freely obtain, use, and possess land at their discretion, as long as their activities on the land do not impede on other individuals’ rights.Adi, D.N. (2009). Critical Mass Representation in Uganda. 1-38. This is not to be confused with access to land, which allows individuals the use of land in an economic sense (i.e. farming). Instead, land rights address the ownership of land which provides security and increases human capabilities. When a person only has access to land, they are in constant threat of expulsion depending on the choices of the land owner, which limits financial stability. Land rights are an integral part of Land Laws, as they socially enforce groups of individuals’ rights to own land in concurrence with the land laws of a nation. Land Law addresses the legal mandates set forth by a country in regards to land ownership, while land rights refer to the social acceptance of land ownership. Landesa takes the stance that although the law may advocate for equal access to land, land rights in certain countries and cultures may hinder a group's right to actually own land. Laws are important, but they must be backed up by cultural tradition and social acceptance. Therefore, laws concerning land ownership and land rights of a country must be in agreement. Globally, there has been an increased focus on land rights, as they are so pertinent to various aspects of development. According to Wickeri and Kalhan, land ownership can be a critical source of capital, financial security, food, water, shelter, and resources. The UN Global Land Tool organisation has found that rural landlessness is a strong predictor of poverty and hunger, and negatively impacts
Empowerment Empowerment is the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities. This enables them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming strong ...

Empowerment
and the realisation of
Human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
. In order to home in on this critical problem of inadequate land rights, The Millennium Development Goal 7D strives to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers. This includes increased land rights for impoverished people, which will ultimately lead to a higher quality of life. Although land rights are fundamental in achieving higher standards of living, certain groups of individuals are consistently left out of land ownership provisions. The law may provide access to land, however, cultural barriers and
poverty trap In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods an ...
s limit minority groups’ ability to own land.Hanstad, T. (2010). Secure Land Rights. Rural Development Institute. In order to reach equality, these groups must obtain adequate land rights that are both socially and legally recognised.


Limits of national jurisdiction and sovereignty


Land rights and women

Several scholars argue that women's lack of sufficient land rights negatively affects their immediate families and the larger community, as well.Agarwal, B. (1988). “Who Sows? Who Reaps? Women and Land Rights in India” Journal of Peasant Studies. 531-581.Agarwal, B. (1994). “A Field of One’s Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia”. Cambridge University Press. With land ownership, women can develop an income and allocate this income more fairly within the household.Agarwal, B. (2005). “Marital Violence, Human Development, and Women’s Property Status in India” World Development. 823-850.Deere, C.D., & Doss, C. R. (2006). “Gender and the Distribution of Wealth in Developing Countries. World Institute for Development Economics Research, 1-27. Tim Hanstad claims that providing sufficient land rights for women is beneficial because, once women can exercise those rights the following will be promoted: * Women will be less likely to contract and spread
HIV/AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of ...
as they do not have to resort to prostitution * Women will be less likely to be victims of
Domestic violence Domestic violence (also called domestic abuse or family violence) is violence Violence is the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization Th ...
* Their children will be more likely to get an education and stay in school longer * Women will be better positioned to get access to
Microcredit :''This article is specific to small loans, often provided in a pooled manner. For direct payments to individuals for specific projects, see Micropatronage. For financial services to the poor, see Microfinance. For small payments, see Micropayme ...
In many parts of the world, women have access to land in order to farm and cultivate the land; however, there are traditions and cultural norms which bar women from inheriting or purchasing land. This puts women in a place of dependence on their husbands, brothers, or fathers for their livelihood and shelter. Should there be an illness, domestic violence, or death in the family, women would be left landless and unable to either grow crops for food, or rent land for profit. Land ownership for women is a crucial form of security and income, increasing
Empowerment Empowerment is the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities. This enables them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming strong ...

Empowerment
and decreasing
Poverty Poverty is the state of having little material possessions or income In microeconomics, income is the Consumption (economics), consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expresse ...

Poverty
.


India

Kanakalatha Mukund makes the important point that although women in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
have the legal right to own land, very few actually do as a result of the
patriarchal Patriarchy is a social system In sociology, social system is the patterned network of relationships constituting a coherent whole that exist between individuals, groups, and institutions. It is the formal Social structure, structure of role ...

patriarchal
practices which dominate the nation. Up until recently, Indian women have been left out of laws regarding the distribution of public land and were forced to rely on the small possibility of obtaining private land from their families.
Inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property i ...

Inheritance
laws which cater towards men are one of the key issues behind inequality in land rights. According to
Bina Agarwal Bina Agarwal is an Indian development economist and Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester , mottoeng = Knowledge, Wisdom, Humanity , established = 2004 – U ...
, land ownership defines social status and political power in the household and in the village, shaping relationships and creating family dynamics. Therefore, inheritance of land automatically puts men above women both in the household, and in the community. Without political pull in the village, and with limited bargaining powers within the household, women lack the voice to advocate for their own rights. Another issue with land rights in India is that they leave women completely dependent on the lives of their husbands. A study by Bina Agarwal found that in
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
, prosperous families turn destitute when the male head of the household dies, as women are not permitted to take over their husband's land. Also, due to cultural tradition, the higher the status of the woman, the less likely she is to have any developed skills that would be useful in finding work. These women are forced to beg for food and shelter once their husbands die because they have not been allowed to gain work experience. Bina Agarwal argues that land ownership significantly decreases the chance of domestic violence against Indian women. Owning property elevates women to a higher status within the household, allowing more equality and bargaining power. In addition, owning property separately from their husbands allowed women an opportunity of escape from abusive relationships. Agarwal concluded that the prospect of a safe shelter outside of the main household decreases the longevity of domestic violence. Land rights are critical for women in India due to the heavily patriarchal society in which they live. Cultural perspectives play a key role in the acceptance of equality within land ownership. Women owning land ultimately benefits the household and society as a whole. The most recent advance towards equality in land rights in India was the Hindu Succession Act of 2005. This act aimed to remove the gender discrimination which was present in the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. In the new amendment, daughters and sons have equal rights to obtain land from their parents. This act was both a legally and socially important move for women's rights to land. Not only did it legally mandate equality in land succession, it also validated women's roles as equals in society.


Uganda

Uganda's 1995 Constitution enforces equality between men and women, including the acquisition and ownership of land.Constitution of Uganda. (1995). http://www.ugandaonlinelawlibrary.com/files/constitution/constitution_1995.pdf However, research from Women's Land Link Africa reveals that women remain excluded from land ownership due to customs and deeply ingrained cultural habits.Women’s Land Link Africa. (2010). “The Impact of National Land Policy and Land Reform On Women in Uganda”. WLLA. 1-8. Even when women save up enough money to purchase land, the land is signed in their husband's name, while women sign as the witness.
Inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property Public property i ...

Inheritance
practices are a particular obstacle which reduces
women empowerment Women's empowerment (or female empowerment) is the process of empowering women.Kabeer, Naila. "Gender equality and women'empoverment: A critical analysis o the third millennium development goal 1." ''Gender & Development'' 13.1 (2005): 13-24. It ...

women empowerment
, as well. Land is passed down through male lineage which reinforces women's exclusion from land ownership.Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. (2010). “Uganda-Women’s Land Rights: The Gap Between Policy and Practice”. Another detriment to equality, pointed out by Women's Land Link Africa, is that women lack sufficient knowledge about the rights they have under the law to own land. Rural, illiterate women do not even have access to the new constitution which guarantees them land rights. Although the 1995 Constitution provides for equality between men and women, there are still gaps in the law which affect women's rights to land. The law protects the rights to land of wives in marriage; however, it does not address the needs of widows or divorcees. Consequentially, these women are left landless and without the protection land offers. Also, women have a difficult time taking cases to court due to corruption and expensive trials. The trials concerning land take so long to process that many women do not even attempt to seek legal assistance. Women's Land Link Africa provides suggestions to alleviate inequality in land ownership. Rural women can be educated about their rights through radio campaigns, community discussions, educational outreach programs, and public forums. The cultural nuances must be addressed in policies and community leaders can be educated about inclusion of minority groups. Also, the law itself can address the rights of widows and divorcees in addition to the rights of married women.


See also

*
English land law English land law is the law of real property In England, English common law, real property, real estate, realty, or immovable property is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improve ...
*
Split estate In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states ...
* The Land is Ours * International Land Coalition * '' Struggle for the Land''


References

{{Authority control Human rights