Old policies new action : a surprising political initiative to recognize human rights in the Cambodian land reform

Muller, Frans-Volker & Gunther Zulsdorf

Under the motto old policies - new actionn, in June 2012 the Cambodian Prime Minister initiated a massive land registration campaign on untitled former forest land. Unauthorised settlers and other long-term users of these lands, including those inside Economic Land Concessions, had been considered illegal before. Those of them who are poor now receive full property title by way of donation. The campaign was planned for 12 months and targets 470,000 families on 700,000 parcels comprising a total of 1,8 Mio hectares. The campaign might be extended though into the year of 2014. By January 2013 information sheets were filled for 434,014 parcels relating to 316,153 families. A total of 389,578 parcels were surveyed, comprising 505,347 hectares. A four week public display was undertaken for 183,295 parcels of 103,073 families comprising 293,348 hectares. So far, 117,548 ownership titles were distributed in the hands of the new owners. This article is a first and incomplete attempt to describe the political background, some technological and organizational issues and the current status of the campaign in terms of land surveyed, titles delivered and type of state land reclassified.

Event: Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty 2013