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DEMOCRATIC LAND GOVERNANCE AND SOME POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Saturnino M. Borras Jr. and Jennifer C. Franco

Abstract:
In this paper, the authors define democratic land governance as a political process that is contested by multiple state and societal actors to control the nature, pace, extent and direction of access to, control over, and use of land resources. They also see democratic land governance as categorically biased in favour of the previously marginalized landless and near-landless working poor people and inherently part of the broader and strategic challenge of democratizing the state and society. It includes administrative and technical processes such as efficient land records and titles, but goes beyond these, to include the fundamental question of land-based wealth and power (re)distribution. It requires the reformist contributions from both state and societal actors, and so necessarily combines perspectives on formal and informal, official and nonofficial, and state and non-state institutions and processes. It is necessarily carried out at multiple levels of the polity: national and local, and even international. Finally, the authors present 9 tentative recommendations of how to foster democratic land governance policies.

DEMOCRATIC LAND GOVERNANCE AND SOME POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Saturnino M. Borras Jr. is Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies, Saint Marys University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (sborras@smu.ca). Jennifer C. Franco is research coordinator of the New Politics Rural subprogramme at the Transnational Institute (TNI), Amsterdam (jfranco@tni.org). The authors thank Dr. Ben Cousins, Chair in Development Management, University of the Western Cape (UWC), Director of PLAAS, Noha El-Mikawy, Fernando de Medina-Rosales and Knut Laksa, OGC, for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts. DISC LAIMER The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations Development Programme or the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre.

United Nations Development Programme


Oslo Governance Centre Democratic Governance Group Bureau for Development Policy Borggata 2B, Postboks 2881 Tyen 0608 Oslo, Norway Phone +47 23 06 08 20 Fax +47 23 06 08 21 oslogovcentre@undp.org www.undp.org/oslocentre

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OUTLINE Introduction ...................................................................................................... 4 1 2 3 4 5 Peoples Autonomous Mobilization from Below ................................. 4 Reformist Initiative by State Actors from Above ............................... 6 Mutually Reinforcing State-Society Interaction ................................... 8 What is Democratic Land Governance?.............................................. 10 Recommendations.................................................................................. 11

References....................................................................................................... 13

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Introduction
We define democratic land governance as a political process that is contested by multiple state and societal actors to control the nature, pace, extent and direction of access to, control over, and use of land resources. We also see democratic land governance as categorically biased in favour of the previously marginalized landless and near-landless working poor people and inherently part of the broader and strategic challenge of democratizing the state and society. It includes administrative and technical processes such as efficient land records and titles, but goes beyond these, to include the fundamental question of land-based wealth and power (re)distribution. It requires the reformist contributions from both state and societal actors, and so necessarily combines perspectives on formal and informal, official and non-official, and state and non-state institutions and processes. It is necessarily carried out at multiple levels of the polity: national and local, and even international. The discussion about landed property rights as social relations, about the dynamics of landoriented change and reform, and about the key features of a pro-poor land policy are all about questions of wealth and power. And as explained in OGC Briefs 1-3, it is the dynamic interactions of various state and societal actors that determine land policy outcomes, both in terms of the extent to which laws are authoritative and policies are pro-poor. One-dimensional views of land, usually from an economic or monetary perspective, often define governance, as an administrative function of the state, essentially de-politicizing land policies. It is common these days to define governance around land issues in terms of faster and cheaper land administration. One problem is that this implies a top-down approach to land that disempowers the rural poor in the process. The problem is also that, in the end, such an approach is more likely to benefit the non-poor, than it is to benefit the rural poor. This is because the dominant groups and classes in society can easily influence top-down, administrative processes due to the extensive reach of their influence inside and outside the state bureaucracy. Achieving truly pro-poor land policy processes and outcomes thus necessarily requires a strategy that confronts, rather than backs away from, the inherently contested nature of land ownership, control and use. The key challenge is to identify actors that can mobilize effectively to carry out truly pro-poor land policies. Our proposition is that democratic land governance is a process that involves three basic components. None of these three components alone is sufficient; each is in itself a challenge to achieve; yet in the end all three are necessary to produce democratic land governance: peoples autonomous pro-reform mobilizations from below, independent state reformist initiatives from above, and mutually reinforcing interactions between these two streams that are embedded in democratic values. Herein lies one of the basic fundamental distinctions between democratic land governance and land administration or a simple land governance: whereas the former perceives the ownership, control and use of land as the result of a complex, dynamic and inherently contentious political process, the latter tends to assume that there is one right form of ownership, control and use of land (i.e. usually private and individual property rights) and that this can be effected through the right technical procedures (i.e. usually through privatized and decentralized approaches).

Peoples Autonomous Mobilization from Below

Mobilization from below by the rural poor come in a variety of forms. This can come through well-organized articulation by civil society groups of NGOs and rural social movements in places where these groups have emerged and developed in the past. Examples are many countries in OGC DISCUSSION PAPER 1 MAY 2008 PAGE 4

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Latin America today (Petras and Veltmeyer 2003), especially Brazil which has vibrant peasant movements and NGOs (Meszaros 2000; Wolford 2003). In places where the conditions are not supportive of the emergence of NGOs and peasant movements, other forms of struggles for land have developed, such as the everyday forms of peasant resistance in Vietnam and China (Scott 1985; Kerkvliet 2005; OBrien and Li 2006). Understanding how to enhance the power of the rural poor peoples associations requires an understanding of the dimensions of organizational power per se, namely, autonomy and capacity. Autonomy refers to the degree of external intervention in the internal organizational processes of an association, whether an NGO or a movement organization or community of the rural poor. Autonomy is different from independence. The latter suggests an either/or approach and tends to depict a rather static relationship (i.e., an association is either completely independent from, or totally co-opted by, state or non-state external institutions). Autonomy is inherently relational and a matter of degree. It is relational because it refers to the nature of the interaction between an association and state or non-state groups that are external to it. It is a matter of degree because relationships are rarely a case of total co-optation or total independence. Rather, the reality is somewhere in between, dynamic and constantly negotiated between actors over time. A high degree of autonomy is necessary for an association to decide on its own whether and how and to what extent it shall pursue what type of pro-poor land policies. Having more autonomy entails a greater degree of power (Fox, 1993). Independent organizations can go as far as putting issues onto the states agenda, but then may be unable to directly influence policy outcomes without close interaction with state actors. Co-opted organizations are unlikely to be able to make an important impact since they are basically administrative adjuncts of the state and can rarely go beyond what the state defines as parameters of action. Autonomous organizations have more potential. While they are able to penetrate the state from top to bottom and to influence it from within, they can also pull out from such interaction when disengagement is necessary, and preserve themselves when the windows of opportunities close, still retaining some degree of strength from previous interactions with the state which can be utilized for the next reformist opening (see Fox, 1992). Moreover, associational autonomy is something to be won rather than assumed, but once won it is not guaranteed to stay permanently (Harvey 1998; Edelman 1999). The degree of autonomy of a particular organization vis--vis the state can fluctuate over time in the course of land policy implementation. It can increase or decrease within the political and policy dynamics that shape and reshape the process and outcomes of land policy (Fox, 1992: 24). The experience of peasant organizations in Veracruz, Mexico during 192038 is an example (see Salamini, 1971). But even when it is highly autonomous, a rural poor peoples association may not be able to pursue its goals if it suffers from a low degree of capacity. Capacity means simply the ability of an association or community to do what it wants to do. The kinds of capacity needed by an association depend mainly on the kind of constituency it has, the type of opportunities there are, and the objectives of development undertakings or policy reform campaigns. The meaning and features of capacity vary from one civil society organization to the next: For a peasant association pursuing meaningful pro-poor land policymaking and implementation, capacity might entail having the logistical resources to be able to decide when and where to conduct their own general assembly, instead of having to rely on some NGOs or a government agency for such. To others, it might require having access to (para)legal services and assistance needed for their land claim-making initiatives (Ghimire 2001).

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To yet another NGO, capacity might mean access to necessary alternative technical knowledge in some farming systems (Holt-Gimenez 2006) Capacity may also mean the ability to scale up very localized and small scale development projects. Ideally, most effective type of a civil society organization is one that is able to maintain both a high degree of autonomy and a high degree of capacity. Today, most peasant movements campaigning for pro-poor land policies can be located somewhere in between the two opposite poles described here. Brazil is a good country example where both NGOs and movements of the landless have degree of autonomy and capacity (Wolford 2003; Meszaros 2000). The Philippines may follow closely (Borras 2007). Perhaps many of the African countries can be found in the lower location of this equation, having nearly no nationally coherent land-oriented rural social movements (Chavez and Franco 2007). South Africa and Zimbabwe may have some important land-oriented research and advocacy institutions, but arguably both have relatively absent organized autonomous national rural social movement claiming land. External interventions that aim at enhancing the role of civil society organizations in pursuit of pro-poor land policies must therefore simultaneously promote both dimensions of an organizations power: autonomy and capacity (Fox 1993). In places where the forms of peasant actions take the more fluid form of everyday politics and rightful resistance, the task for pro-poor land policy advocates is on how to understand and benefit from these actions, without losing sight of the long-term agenda of facilitating the introduction of more organized way of civil society building even in hostile settings, if and when these latter forms of actions have clearer advantages in the longer term. What is problematic is when de-politicized development intervention is imposed on rural poor people whose most immediate need is for politically contentious reforms like pro-poor land policies (Harriss 2002). Unfortunately, to date, logistical support for the more urgent socio-political undertakings of many poor peoples organizations, such as autonomous organization-building and mobilizations to claim land rights, has remained intermittent at best.

Reformist Initiative by State Actors from Above

The currently dominant land policy thinking is against the role of central states on the basis that central states are inherently corrupt (Klaus Deininger and Hans Binswanger of the World Bank 1999). While there is an assumption that central states are inherently corrupt, it is implicit in this assumption that market forces and local government officials necessarily push for open and transparent transactions (Deininger and Binswanger 1999). These interlinked opposing views about the state, market and corruption are not fully supported by historical facts. Large scale pro-poor land policies, such as successful land reform and land tenure reforms have been carried out by central states (Barraclough 2001). Meanwhile, many of the contemporary market-led land policies, such as the market-led agrarian reform, have almost always been saddled by widespread corruption from Brazil to the Philippines, from Colombia to South Africa involving private entities and local government officials (Borras 2003; Lahiff, Borras and Kay 2007). Furthermore, the assumption that decentralization guarantees transparency and accountability, administrative efficiency, and speedy policy implementation is highly questionable (MeinzenDick and Knox 1999; Ribot and Larsen 2005; Peluso 2007; Bobrow-Strain 2004). This is most especially in the context of (re)distributive reforms like land policies. The rural polity of most developing countries today is a patchwork of local authoritarian enclaves (Fox 1990 & 1994; Franco 2001;) or local chieftains in the case of Africa (Ntsebeza 2006; Mamdani 1996).

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Yet, the market-oriented land policy proponents seem to have disregarded the realities in the rural (local) polity in developing countries that have been described by scholars over time. The market-oriented, and so, decentralized land policy models appear to try to isolate the technical/administrative issues in project/policy implementation from the political contexts within which land policy operators and clients are embedded. But as Boone (1998: 25) explains in the context of Africa, decentralization schemes cannot be treated as technically neutral devices which can be implemented without constraint, as if there were no pre-existing social context: Governments may have important stakes in established powerbrokers and in established, locallevel social and political hierarchies that can extend beyond the reach of the state. Furthermore, the concept of autonomy and capacity as applied in the analysis of societal actors is also relevant to the analysis of state actors. Here, we use the concept of state actors rather than state agencies or the state as a whole. This is because the state is a heterogeneous institution, a contested arena, where different group and class interests in society are played out. State actors are groups of people that push or pull together in similar policy direction. We are interested in state reformists, broadly defined as the group of actors within the national and local state bureaucracy that have varying degrees of political power, for various reasons and motivations are interested in pursuing pro-poor land policy, and are generally tolerant to or even supportive of poor peoples mobilizations from below. Pro-reform actors can be found within and across agencies, national and local (Fox, 1993, Chap 2; see also Borras, 2007). While in general, historically, state reformists emerge, get consolidated and effect pro-poor land policies as a response to pressures mounted by land claim makers from below, there are times when state reformists, motivated by a variety of factors, such as concern for political legitimacy and democratization, on their own launch autonomous reformists land policies from above even when these run counter to elite interests. States can respond to the imperatives of pro-poor land policies in a number of ways, depending on particular conditions. 1. States can formulate pro-poor land policies where they do not already exist. This is particularly crucial in conflict situations where there are ongoing, or there are real prospects for, peace negotiations in order to make sure that pro-poor land policies are integrated in the peace-building process. It is important to learn lessons, both negative and positive, from recent post-conflict settlement where land policies where incorporated (postapartheid South Africa, Namibia, East Timor and Central American countries). States can activate potentially pro-poor land policies where they exist but are kept in dormant conditions or are generally interpreted and implemented in ways that are not always advantageous to the rural poor as in the case of the Basic Agrarian Law of 1960 in Indonesia, the 1997 Land Law of Mozambique and the Forest Land Allocation program of Vietnam (Norfolk and Liversage 2001; Sikor 2006a). States can revise and improve existing land policies to make them more pro-poor in orientation and character. For example, the generally pro-poor but significantly limited and flawed national land reform policies of Brazil, South Africa and the Philippines could be improved and strengthened to increase the chances that these are interpreted and implemented more often in favour of the rural poor. States can take concrete steps to protect land claim makers from violent reprisals from forces opposed to pro-poor land policies. Indeed, only states can stop violence committed against land claim makers (Kay 2001). States can open up more effective institutional spaces for real participation by pro-poor land policy constituencies to demand accountability in land policy making, from framework setting to implementation to evaluation and monitoring. Judicial reforms must be OGC DISCUSSION PAPER 1 MAY 2008 PAGE 7

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part of such accountability processes. But a pro-poor land policy should also be conscious that popular conflict resolution mechanisms around land conflicts can, under certain conditions, serve to undermine, not promote, the interest of the rural poor (Franco, forthcoming, b). In many cases, enforcement of the principle of free, prior and informed consent, especially for territory-related conflicts involving almost always companies engaged in extractive industries (mining, logging), can only be carried out by states (see, e.g. Tauli-Corpuz and Cario, 2004).

Mutually Reinforcing State-Society Interaction

In some cases, state reformists and pro-reform social groups exist without interacting with each other. In such situations, political opportunities are not harnessed. In other cases, they do interact but instead of supporting each other, they undermine each other: pro-reform forces are then generally weakened and prospects for democratic land governance are remote. In fact, it is more of the general trend that these two sets of state and societal actors do not coalesce around reformist policies. The varying structural and institutional locations and agendas between them make conflict a constant feature of their relationship. There are numerous dilemmas and contradictions. The quest of autonomy by societal groups is almost always matched by the propensity of state actors to co-opt community groups. Independent reform initiatives of state actors are always suspected as something else by societal groups. It is therefore not surprising to see that these two sets of actors are almost always at conflicting positions, especially around (re)distributive reform issues (see OGC Briefs 1-3, 2008). In the context of carrying out (re)distributive reforms, the most promising situation is when the two streams of pro-reform forces interact positively in pursuit of the common goal of implementing land reform, despite differences in agendas and motivations between them. This positive interaction does not necessarily entail explicit coalitions between state and societal actors. Parallel initiatives of the state and societal actors (who may even consider themselves adversaries) toward a common aim also form objective alliances. In short, each must pressure the other to give in, but they share a broader interest in each others gaining strength. Depending on existing concrete conditions in a given setting, a state-society interaction can take the form of state-NGO, state-peasant movement, state-NGO/peasant movement forms, which are more common in places where there are covert and organized societal groups, such as Brazil. In places where such forms of associations and actions are not developed or allowed, state-society interactions usually take varying forms of the more amorphous and fluid statecommunity interactions, such as in many parts of Vietnam and China today. Still in many other settings, combining these two streams may be more relevant. For rural poor peoples social movements (peasant organizations and NGOs) and rural peoples communities to become more effective actors in pushing for pro-poor land policies, they need to gain a high degree of empowerment (Fox 2005). Empowerment involves changes in power relations within society, within the state, and between state and society. In the context of rural poor peoples claim-making initiatives for land rights, it may be useful to distinguish empowerment (actors capacities) from rights (institutionally recognized opportunities). Fox explains that, these two good things do not necessarily go together. Institutions may nominally recognize rights that actors, because of imbalances in power relations, are not able to exercise in practice. Conversely, actors may be empowered in the sense of having the experience and capacity to exercise rights, yet they may lack institutionally recognized opportunities to do so (Newell and Wheeler 2006; Cousins 1997; De Feyter 2005) Promoting spaces for fruitful interactions between state actors and civil society or community, where there is room for bargaining, negotiation and joint planning, as well as confrontation and accountability sessions, is needed to promote state-supported campaigns for pro-poor land OGC DISCUSSION PAPER 1 MAY 2008 PAGE 8

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policies. It is critical however to remember that these spaces are not neutral arenas. As John Gaventa (2002: 10) explained, state-society negotiations around a reformist policy that matters to poor people are not smooth and conflict-free. There are formal and informal spaces. Both state, civil society and community actors tend to feel relatively freer in informal types of encounters despite (or perhaps because of) the relatively uncertain and unpredictable nature of the space. There are also formalized and official spaces for interaction (sometimes loosely referred to as institutionalized spaces or interface mechanisms) where the terms of interaction are pre-determined by one camp or the other, and the encounters usually observe regular schedules. Examples include officially mandated commissions or committees requiring representation and participation from grassroots organizations, such as local development councils in most countries amid decentralization and most of the PRSPs (Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers). While these kinds of spaces do present opportunities for poor people to push for their agendas, one potential problem is that they can become static and unable to capture evolving dynamics in the state-society relations. Because of shifting alignments and the regular ebbs and flows of organization, a movement that is already an empty shell may continue to occupy a privileged seat at the table, while a newly emerging vibrant movement could not enter the gate, and so on. At times, official spaces can even end up being used as a conservative mechanism to stifle, rather than encourage, autonomous actions from below. When this happens, the space becomes exclusionary and less effective, and the rural poor can exercise either their voice option (i.e. challenge to democratize and make accountable the processes and actors therein) or their exit option (i.e. to abandon this particular space and seek for alternative spaces). If a vibrant state-society interaction in pushing for pro-poor land policy is desired, it may be better, though more difficult, to maintain both types of spaces informal/unofficial and formal/official simultaneously (see discussion in Borras, 2006). But because state and societal actors (civil society, NGOs, rural social movements, community associations, and so on) come from very different institutional contexts, and each has a different set of motivations and long-term agendas for promoting a pro-poor land policy, conflict is an inherent feature of the interface. Pro-reform state and societal actors may realize however that they need one another if their agenda for land reform implementation is to be accomplished, and so they continue to interact, each trying to (re)shape and (re)influence the other. In the process of repeated conflict-ridden interactions, both are transformed over time. A key assumption here is that states and (inter)governmental agencies (like societal groups) are not monolithic. The state is both an actor and an arena of contestation between different groups of officials, including reformers. State-societal interactions are generally encouraged in development policy practice today. However, the dominant perspective among these is one that promotes conflict-free or de-politicized partnerships. On most occasions, such partnerships do not work, especially in (re)distributive policy questions (see, e.g. critique by Harriss, 2002). The symbiotic interaction between autonomous societal groups from below and strategically placed state reformists from above provides the most promising strategy to offset strong anti-reform resistance to pro-poor land policies, facilitating state redistribution of contested lands to landless and near-landless working poor. It is a strategy mutually reinforcing to state and societal groups and is given different names: a sandwich strategy (Fox 1003, Borras 2007) good government argument (Tendler 1997); state-society synergy (Evans 1995, 1997); state-in-society concept (Migdal 1988 & 2001; Migdal, Kohli and Shue 1994); mutual empowerment of state and society (Wang 1999), mutual empowerment of state and peasantry (Wang 1997); OGC DISCUSSION PAPER 1 MAY 2008 PAGE 9

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mutually reinforcing redistributive conflict (Heller 2000) , co-governance for accountability(Ackerman 2004), the politics of inclusion (Houtzager and Moore 2003, discussion on social capital (John Harris 2002) and state-society discussion in the context of land reforms in South Asia (Ron Herring 1983). A more fluid form of structureless and un-organized societal groups and state-community interactions, under certain conditions, also loosely represents such a reformist interaction. This is the case in Vietnam as examined by Kerkvliet (2005, 2006) and China as analyzed by OBrien (1996) and OBrien and Li (2006).

What is Democratic Land Governance?

In short, governance approaches to pro-poor land policies that are society-centered will be
able to, at best, put pro-poor land policy onto the official agendas, but will not be able to achieve significant ground in terms of pro-poor land policies. This is because the ultimate power that could redistribute wealth and power across social classes in an agrarian society lies in state power. Societal actors need allies within the state. Meanwhile, state-centric land policy approaches will be able to achieve some significant reforms, but in by themselves will be inherently limited. This is because state actors face structural and institutional constraints, both within the state and in society. State reformists need allies in society (see relevant discussion in Grindle, 1986, Chap. 1, on state- and society-centered views in rural development policies). The most promising approach to democratic land governance is one that combines peoples mobilization from below with state reformists initiatives from above. It is a mutually reinforcing interaction, a symbiotic relation, between state and societal actors who may have different and even conflicting motivations and agendas, but are both interested in pushing for pro-poor land policies and in democratizing the state and society more generally. This sandwich strategy, in turn, is best carried out sensitive to democratic values such as social cohesion, gender- and ethnic sensitive, human rights, and so on, which is closely linked to UNDPs third pillar of democratic governance. More concretely, this means making sure that the state-society reformist interactions around land policies are conscious of the key features of pro-poor land policies as explained in OGC Briefs 1-3, April 2008. A pro-poor land policy from above may be able to satisfy the need for state responsiveness, but without much participation from below is unlikely to offer space for and encourage inclusive participation from the people (see, e.g. various discussions in Sikor and Muller, forthcoming). Under such a set up, it is unlikely too that the process will be embedded in democratic values. A pro-poor land policy strategy from below is likely to be able to address the key question of inclusive participation, but it does not automatically result in higher degree of state responsiveness (see, e.g. Borras, 2007; 2001; Franco, forthcoming, a). And because these initiatives are usually launched by civil society or community actors who also tend to be in the forefront of the advocacy for democratic values, there are good possibilities that such initiatives would be embedded within such values, although this is not always necessarily so. A market-led land policy is mainly interested in how the forces of the free market operate. It is generally agnostic to democratic ideals of state responsiveness or inclusive participation or democratic values as long as economic and monetary efficiency and gains are achieved.

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Land Policy Approaches & Pillars of Democratic Governance


Table 1: Degree of Potential for realizing Pillars of Democratic Governance
Land Policy Approaches State Institutions Responsiveness Inclusive Citizens Participation Values & Principles e.g. gender empowerment, social cohesion, human rights Low -Low --

Land Policyfrom above Actionsfrom below Market-Led State-society reformist interactive approach

High Low Low High

Low High Low High

A mutually reinforcing state-society interaction around a pro-poor land policy does not automatically result in higher degrees of state responsiveness, inclusive participation or embeddedness in democratic values. However, the combination of reform actors provides a great potential for these key issues to be addressed more fully through this strategy than in any of the other three options. For example, it is the mutual responsibility of state actors and societal ones to collect, analyze and use empirical evidence about land policies and their pro poor impact. This in turn entails the combined requirement of enhancing the quality of the evidence. This can be done by strengthening the land policy-related capacities of state actors (e.g. registrars and statistical bureaus) and societal ones (e.g. research centres and civil society or community organizations working on community monitoring) to produce, analyze and disseminate data, and bring these into policy debates and corrective policy measures. It is in a state-society mutually reinforcing interaction framework where rights and powers can be combined, as discussed by Fox (2005; 2007). Looking the problematic from this perspective, also places the notion of bundles of power developed by Ribot and Peluso (2003) and the more conventional bundles of rights stance in a complementary view. Framing the question of rights over land resources and political processes within the issues of the accountability and capacity of rights holders and duty bearers (Franco, 2007) necessarily requires an interactive state-society analytic framework. It is through a state-society perspective that discussions about rights can be expanded to go beyond mere land rights, and include other rights such as the right to food. In short, democratic land governance is a mutually reinforcing pro-poor land policy and democratic governance interaction. It can be achieved more fully and meaningfully only through the positive convergence of state and societal reformist actors. It is because of this nature that makes democratic land governance possible but not automatic, difficult but not impossible, to carry out in settings marked by land-based wealth and power inequalities.

Recommendations

As concluding remarks, it is important to emphasize that this discussion paper is a work-inprogress towards the construction of a rigorous framework for analysis on the notion of democratic land governance. It calls for further research and discussion. Wider and deeper empirical research is necessary in order to validate some of the propositions raised here. Some recommendations are put forward below.

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1.

Incorporating pro-poor land policy into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is critical. This is especially so in settings where the agrarian sector remains important. Doing so will be mutually beneficial for the MDGs campaign on the one hand, and to propoor land policies on the other. In this regard, it is critical to always explain the need for land-based wealth and power transfers in favour of the rural poor. In most settings, linking democratic land governance into the issue of poverty reduction and livelihoods directly entails promoting the integration of land governance that aim to promote the sustainable management of natural resources, either for biodiversity conservation or for local economic development. Incorporating pro-poor land policy into the UNDPs democratic governance work is important. This is especially so in settings marked by less-than-democratic conditions. Doing so will mutually reinforce the democratic governance work on the one side, and the campaign for pro-poor land policies on the other. This should include promoting the integration of issues of democratic land governance into programmes that aim to strengthen local government capacity and accountability (often under the rubric of decentralization). Today, there are multiple forms and meanings of land policy or pro-poor land policy. It has therefore become critical to always explain the key principles of a categorically propoor land policy. This means a specific policy advocacy for the promotion of (re)distributive land policies. This also means the avoidance or rejection of non(re)distributive land policies and/or those that are likely or actually promote (re)concentration of land-based wealth and power. Promoting the alternative notion of democratic land governance can quickly gain currency when linked to major contemporary mainstream policy undertakings. For example, challenge the technical-administrative notion of land governance that takes the land issue out of its socioeconomic and political context. Promoting the alternative notion can also be made by linking it to the widespread promotion of judicial and legal reforms where particular types of conflict resolution mechanisms (out of court settlements, and so on), under certain conditions, may lead not to rural poor peoples gaining control over land resources, but in losing them, as revealed in the study of Franco (forthcoming, b). Promoting the alternative notion of democratic land governance can also be done by linking it to the hot issue of land property rights reforms in (post-)conflict situations, but where evidence in recent experiences has demonstrated that straightforward marketoriented land property rights reforms may not work for the poor and may even undermine the strategic process of peace-building and democratic consolidation. Developing Indicators of Democratic Land Governance is urgent and necessary. This will provide more concrete guidelines to front-line development policy professionals in promoting democratic land governance. Doing so will require the elaboration in, and linking of, two sets of guiding principles. The first set of guiding principles is the one that is linked to pro-poor land policies. It consists of: (a) land-based wealth and transfers in favour of the poor, (b) transfer of political power in favour of the poor, (c) class-conscious, (d) historical, (e) gender sensitive, (f) ethnic-sensitive, (g) productivity-increasing, and (h) livelihoods-enhancing. The second set of guiding principles is the one that is connected to democratic governance. It consists of: (a) peoples mobilization and participation from below, (b) reformist initiatives by state actors from above, and (c) a mutually reinforcing state-society interaction around pro-poor land policies. Autonomy and capacity are the twin dimensions of power of societal groups. It is critical to support autonomy-enhancing and capacity-increasing initiatives (policies, programs, projects) with these groups. These can include support for community-based organiza-

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tions to be able to exercise their associational rights and support to autonomous research initiatives. Where resource constraints mean that hard choices and trade-offs in funding programmes are to be made, supporting societal actors (peasant movements, NGOs, autonomous research institutions) rather than the state may be a better option given the greater difficulties that the former commonly experience in relation to funding. 7. Autonomy and capacity are also the twin foundations of power of pro-reform state actors. For the purpose of empowering state reformist actors, it is critical to support policies, programs and projects that are autonomy-enhancing and capacity-increasing for state reformers. These can include support for management information services, professional training programs, justice reforms, and efficient cadastres. It is equally important to support the creation, consolidation or expansion of institutional spaces and mechanisms for reformist encounters between societal groups from below and state reformers from above. These spaces should necessarily be differentiated and diverse: formal and informal, official and non-official, and so on. The bias here of course is to facilitate the increasing degree of direct and active participation of the previously excluded and marginalized groups, especially the rural poor, as mentioned in the earlier propositions. This particularly means the promotion of what Gaventa (2002) calls invited spaces as well as spaces that could accommodate spontaneous demands by civil society from below. It is critical to create and promote various types of spaces for interactions that are systematic enough to be predictable and programmatic, but flexible to be able to accommodate for unexpected and unintended political dynamics. When such multiple forms of spaces for interaction are created, established and expanded, these can contribute to promote mutually reinforcing interactions between state and societal actors which is in turn relevant to durable and strategic shifts of balance of power in favour of democratic blocks and reformist groups within the state and in society. Finally, it will be relevant and important to support capacity building and lesson-learning initiatives across national, regional and continental boundaries, through training, exchange programmes and analytical workshops focused on democratic land governance. This should entail, among others, linking more closely with various civil society groups (and not just particular group or types of civil society), including rural poor peoples movements, networking with autonomous research institutions, including academic ones, as well as bringing together groups of reformist state actors coming from different settings and conditions. For these purposes, working with various transnational agrarian movements, networks or coalitions (see Borras, Edelman and Kay, 2008) may also yield fruitful outcomes.

8.

9.

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