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Whose Land is this Anyways? The role of collective action in maintaining community rights to the land in Kratie, Cambodia
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Whose Land is this Anyways? The role of collective action in maintaining community rights to the land in Kratie, Cambodia


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  • gghk
  • Conflict is a serious issue in Cambodia Since the Land Information Center was established in 2006, it has recorded 812 valid land disputes involving more than 5 families Of these, 236 conflicts were still on-going as of 2009 Conflict in Cambodia involves home demolitions, forced evictions, violent protest and assassinations This woman is being forcibly evicted from her home in Dey Krahom
  • These were the primary research questions
  • The research was conducted as part of the Conflict over Forests and Land in Asia project presented by Yurdi on Monday Based on case study research conducted in Kratie Province, Cambodia, from 2006 – 2008
  • ELCs are the primary tool for land development in Cambodia Strong government support for land concessions Argue will increase economic growth; diversify employment; increase social justice CFs are the primary means for communities to secure tenure to the land they manage Goals of the CF movement: secure forest management rights for communities historically occupying the land and in threat of losing the land Movement began in the 1990s, meaningful advances have been made over the past 20 years
  • ELCs authorized by 2001 Land Law Up to 10 000 hectares can be granted to investors for social or economic purposes Social and environmental requirements built into sub-decree 146 Two of the most important are that an SEIA be conducted and that the ELC company consult the community on the land – beforehand! If these procedures are not followed, the ELC can be considered illegal Development is occurring quickly! As of November 2009, 65 companies have been granted nearly 850 000 ha, roughly 5% of Cambodia’s land area
  • 2002 Forestry Law recognized CF as valid management modality Over the next five years, the complete legal framework for CF was constructed It now includes the 2002 Sub-decree on Community Forestry and the 2006 Guidelines for Community Forestry Explains how a CF can be established; managed and used; and provides provisions for reforestation, rehabilitation and conservation CFs are protected before they are approved! Land law, Article 23 does not allow non-traditional management forms such as ELCs before community registration and land titling is completed In practice, the approval process is lengthy and complex and many communities lose their land before it’s completed As of February 2010, there are 420 CFs that cover 0.4 million hectares, though only 128 have received “official approval”
  • 3 study villages 954 people 58% Khmer; 28% Phong; 13% Moel 80% of the 954 villagers are farmers by primary occupation Supplementary income and subsistence purposes for forest use include fuel wood, foods, fibers, poles, medicinal plants, etc.
  • Data collection focused on the three villages most directly involved in the conflict – O Po, Sre Treng and Chang Horb Household surveys conducted 100 randomly selected villagers interviewed Key individuals interviewed: village leaders; Commune Council members; Forestry Administration officials Focus Group Discussion with Community Forestry Management Committee A literature review was conducted
  • Poor Coordination results in overlapping claims to the land!: Community’s rights: Community members were de facto managers of the land, and in May 2006 had identified 2 725 ha for a Community Forest alongside the Forestry Administration They had send their application to the Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry Adminstration, and also sent it to District and Provincial Officials with no response Application had been recognized by Commune Council and a Community Forestry Management Committee had been formed As mentioned, under Cambodia’s Land Law, Article 23, non-traditional management forms (e.g. an ELC) are not allowed before community registration and land titling is completed Company’s ELC title granted by Provincial Governor on same land Company rights: Sun Kuy Ty Company granted a 999 ha ELC title to some of the same land by the Provincial Governor of Kratie Province This concession grants concessionaires strong rights to the land Sub-decree 146 not followed! Social and Environmental Impact Assessment was not conducted Public consultation was not followed If either was conducted, villagers were not aware of it Regardless, they would have revealed the community’s application for a CF! Villagers unaware of rights Majority of villagers (87%) not aware Sun Kuy Ty Company had been granted an ELC While all villagers desired a CF, only 23% knew about the rights they had to the land in the process of developing a CF
  • The disputed claims
  • Company began clearing land In September 2008, more than 200 villagers assembled to protest the company’s land clearing Villagers refused to return home and gained control of an old gun
  • Follow-up meetings held with village representatives, village chiefs, the deputy commune chief, district military chief, district military police chief and staff from RECOFTC 70 villagers crowded in front of the district office during the meeting The District Governor agreed to temporarily stop the company’s activities while authorities investigated the situation and villagers agreed to stop protesting
  • Agreement reached – Company agrees to stop clearing land in the conflict zone, beyond which there are no overlapping claims and they may operate On October 29 2008, the company violated this agreement protected by 8 military police One month later, on 1 December, villagers from 4 of the 5 concerned villages requested a new ELC. Sre Sbov village could not agree as all their adjoining forest area lay inside the ELC; to date, there is no resolution
  • Led to organized protests Advocacy from CFMC Proposal to change CF
  • Forced a clear articulation of community demands Led villagers to become more aware of their rights to the land Made the Sun Kuy Ty Company and District and Provincial Governments better aware of community claims to the land
  • Transcript

    • 1. The role of collective action in maintaining community rights to the land in Kratie, Cambodia Horm Chandet and Lisa Kelley The Center for People and Forests Whose Land is this Anyways?
    • 2. Conflict in Cambodia Sources: NGO Forum on Cambodia 2010, Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee 2009, Phnom Penh Post
    • 3. What causes conflict? How is conflict managed? What role does collective action play? Questions
    • 4. Study Context
    • 5.
      • Rapid economic development using Economic Land Concessions (ELC)
      • Community attempts to secure tenure (via Community Forestry)
    • 6.
      • Supported by the 2001 Land Law
      • Development is guided by sub-decree 146
        • Social and Environmental Impact Assessment must be conducted
        • A public consultation must be held
        • Both must occur prior to granting an ELC!
      • As of November 2009, 65 companies have been granted nearly 850 000 ha
      Economic Land Concessions (ELCs)
    • 7.
      • Recognized by the 2002 Forestry Law
      • Development is guided by Prakas
      • CFs are protected before they are approved!
        • Forest Law, Article 23
      • As of February 2010, 420 CFs that cover 0.4 million ha
        • Of these, only 128 officially approved
      Community Forests (CFs)
    • 8. Case Study CF application predates ELC and conflict results! Kbal Damrei Commune
      • Large IP population
      • Heavily reliant on agriculture
      • Supplementary income from forest
    • 9. Methods
      • Household surveys
      • Villagers interviewed
      • Key officials interviewed
      • Focus Group Discussion
      • Literature Review
    • 10. Conflict Causes
      • Poor coordination results in overlapping claims to the land!
      • Sub-decree 146 not followed!
      • Villagers unaware of rights and company’s claims
    • 11.  
    • 12.  
    • 13.  
    • 14.  
    • 15. Conflict Escalation Sequence
    • 16. Collective Action?
      • Conflict strengthened collective action!
      • “ We went there to accompany our representatives because we are concerned about their security. When more people come, we have more voice.”
      • “ Protesting was the only way to stop land clearing or to obtain information from authorities regarding the land clearing.”
      • In turn, collective action initially led to conflict escalation.
      What was the relationship between conflict and collective action?
    • 17. Collective Action?
      • Collective action also played a positive role in conflict management.
      • Collective action helped ensure the community secured its rights to a SEIA and a public consultation.
      What was the relationship between conflict and collective action?
    • 18. Status of collective action in Kbal Damrei
      • Support from external mediators was still necessary in this case
        • RECOFTC and others present
    • 19. Recommendations
      • Better coordination between government agencies
      • Better governance: military guards cannot be used for hire!
      • Mediation support until “true” collective action is possible
      • Speed up recognition of community claims
    • 20.
      • Bibliography
      • Cambodia Human Rights Action Committee. 2009. Losing Ground: Forced Evictions and Intimidation in Cambodia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
      • MAFF. 2009. Overview on Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. (Accessed April 18, 2010).
      • NGO Forum on Cambodia. 2009. Statistical analysis on land dispute occurring in Cambodia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: NGO Forum on Cambodia. (Accessed on April 18, 2010).
      • United Nations. 2007. Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia: A Human Rights Perspective. Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
      Thank you!