An Assessment of Customary Tenure Systems in the Lao PDR

TitleAn Assessment of Customary Tenure Systems in the Lao PDR
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsHackman R
Secondary TitleWorld_Bank
Place PublishedWashington, DC
Key themesFormalisation-titling, MarginalisedPeople, Policy-law

The history of land rights in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), hereafter referred to as Laos, is a history of customary land tenure systems which remain the most prevalent form of land tenure. As social systems, land tenure systems in Laos have been affected by and have adapted to external forces such as neighboring kingdoms, colonialization, geopolitics and war, migration, and global economic trends. Ongoing rapid changes in national socioeconomic conditions and domestic political goals continue to alter the customary tenure landscape. Customary tenure systems have responded differently to changes, but the predominant direction is a transition towards formalization that provide varying levels of recognition and protection of land rights. As this transition occurs, a mixed customary-statutory tenure mosaic has emerged across the mountains and plains of Laos. Within this mosaic, the level of tenure security differs. Due to a lack of formal recognition, the most insecure tenure is land held fully under customary tenure. This desk-based assessment considers the culture and ethnicity of customary tenure systems, their prevalence in the country, general typologies found in Laos, customary tenure systems in transition, and past efforts to formalize customary land rights.


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