Review of initiatives for the recognition and securing of land rights in South Cameroon

Marie Madeleine BASSALANG et James ACWORTH
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Community land rights in Cameroon have continuously evolved throughout the country’s history. These rights are governed by traditional customs and are also impacted by national and international texts, which coexist since the creation of National Lands in 1974. This cohabitation, however, has not restored the traditional land rights of communities, which have been reduced to mere “customary rights” without the possibility of land ownership, outside the registration process. This leaves occupants with precarious rights and exacerbates the pressures on the traditional lands of communities, now subject to grabs for large agri-industrial investments. In response to this land injustice, several initiatives and tools for recognizing and securing customary land rights have been tested to ensure that these rights are no longer questionned or revoked. The aim of this study is to identify these past experiences in Cameroon’s “Great South” in order to assess their effectiveness and to draw lessons from them that could inform the ongoing reform of land legislation.