Stronger Property Rights for Indigenous Populations Can Improve Livelihoods and Reduce Conflict

A number of recent articles highlight the importance of strengthening property rights for Indigenous Populations (IP). In Botswana, the government’s attempts to relocate indigenous San (or Basarwa) populations continue to spark heated debate as well as lawsuits. In Nicaragua, indigenous communities are demanding action to halt illegal logging and encroachment by settlers. In Brazil, frustrated indigenous populations have stormed congress and occupied cattle ranches and dam sites.

As we noted in a previous commentary, indigenous populations’ rights to land and natural resources are often contested by dominant society groups. In many countries, rising population pressure and the expansion of agriculture and infrastructure can create competing demands for indigenous territories and the valuable resources often contained in indigenous territories.

Policy makers seeking to improve the livelihoods IP and reduce land-related conflict should consider the this research paper: Tenure and Indigenous Peoples: The Importance of Self-Determination, Territory, and Rights to Land and Other Natural Resources, which contains recommendations for strengthening land and resource rights of IP.