Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Securing community land and resource rights in Africa: A guide to legal reform and best practices

FERN, the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), ClientEarth and the Centre for Environment and Development (CED)
23 January, 2014

Available in English and French.

This Guide, produced by FERN, the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), ClientEarth and the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), explains key aspects of law and land rights that are important for securing community ownership and control of land and resources – also referred to as secure land and resource tenure. It explains how to identify and create opportunities for law reform and offers examples of reforms that have taken place in several African countries.

This Guide is not exhaustive but aims to:

  • support an understanding of key aspects of a ‘good’ law and law reform process. By ‘good’ we mean laws and reforms that both respect human rights and are implemented, enforceable and participatory.
  • ——give guidance on how to critically analyse an existing law or a proposed draft law;
  • provide ideas on how to make the best use of law reform opportunities that arise.

The Guide is set out in six parts:

  • ——Part 1 offers political and economic arguments in favour of reforming land tenure and natural resource laws to clarify and secure community land and resource rights.
  • ——Part 2 explains the elements of good laws, different sources and systems of law, and the living reality of legal pluralism.
  • ——Part 3 outlines how international and regional human rights law can be used to support a reform process and address a lack of coherence between national laws and international/regional laws.


Read the report in English or French