PROSPER Policy Brief #5: Customary Land Governance – Options for Community Forests

The Government of Liberia (GoL) recently adopted a new land rights policy and is currently developing land administration and land rights legislation. The guiding policy document, endorsed by the President, grants unprecedented land rights to communities. The draft land rights law provides for community-based organizations (CBO) to oversee and administer community customarily owned lands. In developing the community land governance institutions, it would be useful to look at the Community Rights Law (CRL) and its governance institutions as a model for local governance. However, in doing so, it becomes evident that a CRL governance organization may overlap with the responsibilities of a land governance entity. Further, the land governance entity would likely fall under the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) or a newly created Land Management Agency which could lead to issues of jurisdictional authority and murky areas of the law that could be exploited by unscrupulous interests. At this formative time, it is worthwhile to consider the different ways in which customary land management and governance can be streamlined at the local level to avoid duplication of efforts, conflict between different governance institutions, and to provide clarity regarding government agencies’ roles and responsibilities under a land management system that recognizes enlarged community rights.