Human Rights Approach to Development and LAND Reform

Friday, June 24, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
202 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Manuel Couret Branco, University of Évora, Évora, Portugal
In this paper we shall first identify the reasons why land, better said access to land, in this particular case with the purpose of producing crops, can be considered a human right. Indeed access to land is essential to guarantee many recognized human rights such as the right to food, the right to work, cultural freedom and indirectly democracy. Once we considerer access to land a human right it follows that its distribution must meet a set of requirements. Among these are universality and equality, which means that in theory all people willing and able to cultivate should have access to an equal amount land. Even if perfect equality in land distribution cannot be considered mandatory in order to meet universality and equality, in many territories these requirements are far from being met and therefore the question of land redistribution is raised. In human rights, the rights of some constitute the duty of others or of society at large. The issue of responsibility is therefore crucial. In human rights literature in general society is embodied by the state and, therefore, securing access to land as a human right is above all the responsibility of the state. Hence land reform emerges as an important instrument to secure human rights. In conclusion if one adopts a human rights approach to development, many agrarian structures can be seen as a violation of human rights and land reform becomes both a goal and a means of development.