Customary land is land which is owned by indigenous communities and administered in accordance with their customs, as opposed to statutory tenure usually introduced during the colonial periods. Common ownership is one form of customary land ownership.
Since the late 20th century, statutory recognition and protection of indigenous and community land rights continues to be a major challenge. The gap between formally recognized and customarily held and managed land is a significant source of underdevelopment, conflict, and environmental degradation.
In the Malawi Land Act of 1965, "Customary Land" is defined as "all land which is held, occupied or used under customary law, but does not include any public land".
In most countries of the Pacific islands, customary land remains the dominant land tenure form. Distinct customary systems of tenure have evolved on different islands and areas within the Pacific region. In any country there may be many different types of customary tenure.
The amount of customary land ownership out of the total land area of Pacific island nations is the following: 97% in Papua New Guinea, 90% in Vanuatu, 88% in Fiji, 85% in the Solomon Islands, and 81% in Samoa.
Mabo v Queensland was a landmark High Court of Australia decision in 1992 recognising native title in Australia for the first time. It acknowledged that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had occupied the land before the arrival of British settlers, and had rights over the land.
Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a sovereign state in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. It is the world's third largest island country with 462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi).
Indigenous peoples, also known in some regions as First peoples, First Nations, Aboriginal peoples or Native peoples or autochthonous peoples, are ethnic groups who are the original or earliest known inhabitants of an area, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. Groups are usually described as indigenous when they maintain traditions or other aspects of an early culture that is associated with a given region. Not all indigenous peoples share this characteristic, as many have adopted substantial elements of a colonizing culture, such as dress, religion or language. Indigenous peoples may be settled in a given region (sedentary) or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but they are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend. Indigenous societies are found in every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world except Antarctica.
Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution, generally of agricultural land. Land reform can, therefore, refer to transfer of ownership from the more powerful to the less powerful, such as from a relatively small number of wealthy owners with extensive land holdings to individual ownership by those who work the land. Such transfers of ownership may be with or without compensation; compensation may vary from token amounts to the full value of the land.
In common law systems, land tenure is the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land. It determines who can use land, for how long and under what conditions. Tenure may be based both on official laws and policies, and on informal customs. In other words, land tenure system implies a system according to which land is held by an individual or the actual tiller of the land. It determines the owners rights and responsibilities in connection with their holding. The French verb "tenir" means "to hold" and "tenant" is the present participle of "tenir". The sovereign monarch, known as The Crown, held land in its own right. All private owners are either its tenants or sub-tenants. Tenure signifies the relationship between tenant and lord, not the relationship between tenant and land. Over history, many different forms of land ownership, i.e., ways of owning land, have been established.
Native title is the designation given to the common law doctrine of Aboriginal title in Australia, which is the recognition by Australian law that Indigenous Australians have rights and interests to their land that derive from their traditional laws and customs. The concept recognises that in certain cases there was and is a continued beneficial legal interest in land held by Indigenous peooples which survived the acquisition of radical title to the land by the Crown at the time of sovereignty. Native title can co-exist with non-Aboriginal proprietary rights and in some cases different Aboriginal groups can exercise their native title over the same land.
The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 (ALRA) is Australian federal government legislation that provides the basis upon which Aboriginal Australian people in the Northern Territory can claim rights to land based on traditional occupation. It was the first law by any Australian government that legally recognised the Aboriginal system of land ownership, and legislated the concept of inalienable freehold title, as such was a fundamental piece of social reform. Its long title is An Act providing for the granting of Traditional Aboriginal Land in the Northern Territory for the benefit of Aboriginals, and for other purposes.
Land law is the form of law that deals with the rights to use, alienate, or exclude others from land. In many jurisdictions, these kinds of property are referred to as real estate or real property, as distinct from personal property. Land use agreements, including renting, are an important intersection of property and contract law. Encumbrance on the land rights of one, such as an easement, may constitute the land rights of another. Mineral rights and water rights are closely linked, and often interrelated concepts.
Indigenous land rights are the rights of indigenous peoples to land, either individually or collectively in colonised countries. Land and resource-related rights are of fundamental importance to indigenous peoples for a range of reasons, including: the religious significance of the land, self-determination, identity, and economic factors. Land is a major economic asset, and in some indigenous societies, using natural resources of land and sea form the basis of their household economy, so the demand for ownership derives from the need to ensure their access to these resources. Land can also be an important instrument of inheritance or a symbol of social status. In many indigenous societies, such as among the many Aboriginal Australian peoples, the land is an essential part of their spirituality and belief systems.
Aboriginal title is a common law doctrine that the land rights of indigenous peoples to customary tenure persist after the assumption of sovereignty under settler colonialism. The requirements of proof for the recognition of aboriginal title, the content of aboriginal title, the methods of extinguishing aboriginal title, and the availability of compensation in the case of extinguishment vary significantly by jurisdiction. Nearly all jurisdictions are in agreement that aboriginal title is inalienable, and that it may be held either individually or collectively.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a non-legally-binding resolution passed by the United Nations in 2007. It delineates and defines the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, including their ownership rights to cultural and ceremonial expression, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. It "emphasizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions, and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations". It "prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples", and it "promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development".
The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation passed in India on 18 December 2006. It has also been called the Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Rights Act, the Tribal Bill, and the Tribal Land Act. The law concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.
Land ownership in Canada is held by governments, Indigenous groups, corporations, and individuals. Canada is the second-largest country in the world by area; at 9,093,507 km² or 3,511,085 mi² of land it occupies more than 6% of the Earth's surface. Since Canada uses primarily English-derived common law, the holders of the land actually have land tenure rather than absolute ownership.
Alexkor v Richtersveld Community, decided by the Constitutional Court in 2001, is an important case in South African law, with a particular bearing on the law of property and the use of customary law.
Indigenous land rights in Australia, also known as Aboriginal land rights in Australia, relate to the rights and interests in land of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, and the term may also include the struggle for those rights. Connection to the land and waters is vital in Australian Aboriginal culture and to that of Torres Strait Islander people, and there has been a long battle to gain legal and moral recognition of ownership of the lands and waters occupied by the many peoples prior to colonisation of Australia starting in 1788, and the annexation of the Torres Strait Islands by the colony of Queensland in the 1870s.
Certificates of Claim were a form of legal instrument by which the colonial administration of the British Central Africa Protectorate granted legal property titles to individuals, companies and others who claimed to have acquired land within the protectorate by grant or purchase. The proclamation of the British Central Africa Protectorate was endorsed by the British Foreign Office in May 1891, and Harry Johnston as Commissioner and Consul-General examined and adjudicated on all claims to the ownership of land said to have been acquired before or immediately after that date. Between late 1892 and March 1894, Johnston issued 59 Certificates of Claim for land, each of which was equivalent to a freehold title to the land claimed. Very few claims were disallowed or reduced in extent, and around 3.7 million acres, or 15% of the land area of the protectorate, was alienated, mainly to European settlers. No Certificates of Claim were issued after 1894, but this form of land title was never abolished, and some land in Malawi is still held under those certificates.
Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) is a legislation that recognize and promote all the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines.
Native Trust Land in colonial Nyasaland was a category of land held in trust by the Secretary of State for the Colonies and administered by the colonial Governor for the benefit of African communities. In pre-colonial times, land belonged to the African communities that occupied it, and their members were free to use it in accordance with local customary law. In the late 19th century, large areas of fertile land were acquired by European settlers, and the remainder became Crown land, which the colonial government could alienate without the consent of the resident communities. To give a measure of protection to those communities, in 1916 land in Native Reserves, which then amounted to about a quarter of the land in the protectorate, was designated as Native Trust Land, to be held in trust for the benefit of African communities. Later, in 1936, all Crown Land except game or forest reserves or that used for public purposes became Native Trust Land, and Native Authorities were authorised to allocate Trust Land to their communities in accordance with customary law. After 1936, Native Trust Land constituted over 80% of the land in Nyasaland and most African farmers farmed Native Trust Land from then until Nyasaland gained independence as Malawi in 1964 and after.
Ancestral domain or ancestral lands refers to the lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The term differs from indigenous land rights, Aboriginal title or Native Title by directly indicating relationship to land based on ancestry, while domain indicates relationships beyond material lands and territories, including spiritual and cultural aspects that may not be acknowledged in land titles and legal doctrine about trading ownership.
The Law of Tuvalu comprises the legislation voted into law by the Parliament of Tuvalu and statutory instruments that become law; certain Acts passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom ; the common law; and customary law. The land tenure system is largely based on kaitasi.
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