Contested land restitution processes in Cambodia

TitleContested land restitution processes in Cambodia
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsNgin C, Neef A
Secondary TitleLand
Key themesAccessToJustice, CivilSociety-Donors, Dispossession-grabbing

Cambodia has experienced rapid economic growth due partly to excessive natural resource extraction. Land conflicts have been pervasive between local communities and companies that invest in land and other natural resources. Despite substantial research into land conflict resolution, knowledge about how land is returned to wronged parties and what happens to the returned land is fragmented. This review aims to provide a holistic understanding of land restitution in Cambodia by examining different types of land conflict, actors involved, and restitution processes. It provides both a macro perspective on land restitution and conflict-specific perspectives regarding how actors engage in different processes that produce various outcomes for disputants. We find both complications and ambivalence of the actors involved, particularly concerning their roles and influences in resolution processes. Specifically, we find contentious and ambivalent roles that non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donor agencies, and government authorities played in mixed results of resolution mechanisms in the cases that have yielded outcomes in terms of land restitution. Our review also suggests that the neoliberal policy that favours commoditisation of resources and the authoritarian patronage state disguised in a hybrid democracy allowed some grassroots resistance, civil society space, and responses from other concerned economic and political actors in the resolution processes. However, the state controlled and manipulated their engagement to benefit and maintain its economic and political bases, and it never allowed any transformative approach that could tackle the root causes of the problems. This understanding of complexities in land restitution is crucial to achieving land tenure security, particularly for local communities.


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Document Type

Journal Article