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Leiden University contributes to evidence-based land policy in Timor-Leste

For the next six months the Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden University, together with The Asia Foundation (TAF), will develop a tool for evidence-based land policy in Timor-Leste.

Land-related conflict and dispossession are two ‘dormant giants’ threatening security and stability in Timor-Leste. The history of colonialism, conflict, and dispossession preceding the nation’s independence in 2002, bequeathed conflicting land claims and unclear land rights to the new state which have not yet been adequately addressed. This situation has been aggravated by growing state-led dispossession. One factor relevant for addressing this problem has been consistently overlooked: the lack of reliable, consistent, and independently collected data about land.

Through a consultative, participatory process, this project will develop a questionnaire about land tenure, disputes, expectations, and perceptions, which will be tested in three key municipalities and later replicated countrywide by TAF’s annual surveys. This will provide annual land-related quantitative data that can be used for relevant land policies, advocacy, and donor interventions. The participatory approach adopted aims to prompt the government to develop urgent public policies that address – not worsen – land-related conflict.

This project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, through the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Division WOTRO Science for Global Development, in collaboration with the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law.

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