Mine action is intrinsically linked to land rights. While mine action creates multi-dimensional positive humanitarian and development impacts, clearance of explosive ordnance (EO) and land release can lead to competition, contestation, and potential conflict over that land. Settled farmers lay claim and block access to lands which nomadic pastoralists traverse or use for grazing. Local strongmen grab and confiscate land. Families returning from displacement find their ancestral lands seized. And governments and citizens may have very different ideas about who should own lands close to communities which, following EO clearance, are now more productive, where resources are more accessible, and with land that has increased value. This is especially the case where land ownership systems, including documentation and enforcement, are not fully transparent. Since mine action often takes place in conflict or post-conflict areas, these factors are heightened further, with a breakdown in clear and just land rights and tenure.

The major objective of this article is to help mine action stakeholders identify different land dispute risks and outline key strategies to mitigate those risks. Key strategies include 1) broad and inclusive consultation; 2) centering the principle of do no harm;1 3) employing the lens of conflict sensitivity; 4) linking with the Housing, Land, and Property (HLP) space;2 and 5) exploring the opposing effect of how mine action can help alleviate social tensions through land release. Recognition and mitigation of mine action related land disputes will help curtail negative consequences of clearance while increasing positive impacts as the sector works towards a mine-free world.



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