Building land tenure systems: The political, legal, and institutional struggles of Timor-Leste

Building land tenure systems: The political, legal, and institutional struggles of Timor-Leste
Bernardo Ribeiro de Almeida

Summary

Land tenure issues in Timor-Leste are complex and deeply shaped by the nation’s history. Taking an insider’s perspective, this socio-legal research studies the development of the Timorese formal land tenure system from independence in 2002 to 2018. It shows how political, legal, and administrative decisions on land administration are made, what and who influences them, which problems and dilemmas politicians and state officials face, and how the formal land tenure system works in practice. It does so through the investigation of five analytical themes: political environment, lawmaking, legal framework, institutional framework, and social relationships and practices. The result is a portrait of a young nation grappling with the enormous task of creating a land tenure system that can address the needs of its citizens in the wake of centuries of socio-political tumult and huge fluctuations in resources, while seeking to find its place on the world stage as a new nation.

By studying the development of the Timorese formal land tenure system, this book engages in the larger debate about the role of state systems in addressing –but also causing or aggravating– social problems, such as insecurity, poverty, inequality, destruction of nature, and cultural and social estrangement.

The book concludes by highlighting the importance of lawmaking and how abuses of power can be curbed by adequate administrative processes and laws. Finally, it argues that land administration is primarily a political matter. The political dimension of technical solutions must be considered if we aim to achieve fairer formal land tenure systems.

Author

Bernardo Ribeiro de Almeida

Defended in

2020

PhD defended at

Leiden University, Law School, Van Vollenhoven Institute

Specialisation

Social Sciences

Region

Timor

Theme

Law