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Progress on the draft National Land Policy for Laos
Vientiane, 23rd of August 2016
On Tuesday August 23rd the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) invited around 140 participants for a presentation of the revised draft of the National Land Policy (NLP). Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone chaired the workshop that saw the attendance of 18 sector ministries, the National Assembly, several ministry equivalent organisations, academia as well as representatives of donor partners and civil society. Participants were invited to share their comments and recommendations on the revised draft NLP.
The draft NLP saw significant progress in recent weeks, with comments from previous recommendations by development partners and civil society, particularly GIZ, FAO and LIWG taken up in the recent draft. Some open questions remained and were again raised to the Secretariat for the National Review Committee of the National Land Policy. MRLG supported the consolidation of comments of the development community and provided the following key recommendations to the drafting Committee:
- Recognition of Customary Tenure – The present draft does not allow the recognition and protection of customary land rights in state reserved or conservation areas. However, people that have been living in such areas before their demarcation must be able to have their customary land rights recognised and protected.
- Communal Land – In the present draft communal land is categorised as state land. We recommend to not categorise communal land as state land but make it a separate land use right category.
- Turning Land Into Capital – The Turning Land Into Capital policy in the current draft states that the state may turn state land into capital. If communal land remains categorised as State land it must be exempted from the Turning Land Into Capital policy to ensure land tenure security of communities. Generally, the same measures should apply for any changes to communal land rights that apply to private or collective land rights.
- Land Requisition by the State – In its current form the NLP suggests that expropriation may be possible for private/business purposes. We strongly suggest that the state shall only regain the land use rights of land right holders for public purposes in the interest of the nation, but not for private purposes. The state may take the role of facilitator between land right holders and potential investors to ensure a fair and transparent transaction to protect the Lao people.
The Drafting Committee collected all comments and immediately began a process of considering these to update the final draft to be presented at the government’s meeting on Friday August 26. After this meeting, the final National Land Policy is expected to be tabled during the next meeting of the National Assembly in October. Once the National Land Policy has been approved, the Government of Laos will continue with the revision of the Land Law of 2003 to reflect changes in the National Land Policy to provide more regulation for its implementation.
MRLG provided funding and organisational support for this event.