Land Issues in International Human Rights Law | Land Portal

Informations sur la ressource

Date of publication: 
janvier 2009
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
Rwanda LAND (Research) - 23
Copyright details: 
Institute for Human Rights and Business

Up to one quarter of the world’s population is estimated to be landless, including 200 million people living in rural areas,1 and approximately 75% of the world’s population living in extreme poverty (less than $1/day) live in rural areas.2 According to the Food and Agriculture Agency of the United Nations (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)), “rural landlessness is often the best predictor of poverty and hunger.”3 “While not the only pathway out of poverty, ample evidence suggests that access to land is effective in helping rural households generate higher incomes” through the sale of crops and the money saved when the family feeds itself from the land.4 Yet, even though “land constitutes the main asset from which the rural poor are able to derive a livelihood . . . . [m]illions of families, though they toil on the land, do not enjoy ownership rights over it and are considered landless.”5
The condition of landlessness threatens the enjoyment of a number of fundamental human rights. Access to land is important for development and poverty reduction, but also often necessary for access to numerous economic, social and cultural rights, and as a gateway for many civil and political rights. However, there is no right to land codified in international human rights law.
Land is a cross-cutting issue, and is not simply a resource for one human right in the international legal framework. And yet, while rights have been established in the international legal framework that relate to land access for particular groups (e.g. indigenous people and, to a more limited extent, women), numerous rights are affected by access to land (e.g., housing, food, water, work), and general principles in international law provide protections that relate to access to land (e.g., equality and nondiscrimination in ownership and inheritance), an explicit consideration of the legal implications of access to land for a broad range of human rights is necessary.

Auteurs et éditeurs

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Elizabeth Wickeri
Anil Kalhan


Companies can both positively and negatively impact the lives of their staff, the workers in their supply chains, the communities around their operations, and society more widely. Many of these negative impacts – large and small – are avoidable. If every business understood how its actions could undermine respect for human rights and took proactive steps to prevent their impacts, the world would be a different place. Responsible business prevents potential harms, ensures accountability and delivers lasting value. 

Fournisseur de données

The LAND Project is a five year program supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its primary goal is strengthening the resilience of Rwandan citizens, communities and institutions and their ability to adapt to land-related economic, environmental and social changes.

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