Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy (The)

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Turning fish soup back into fish: The wicked problem of African Community land rights

Robert Home, Faith Kabata


Africa’s postcolonial disputes over community land rights are a “wicked” problem, not evil, but resistant to resolution. This article investigates three such disputes in Kenya (Endorois, Ogiek and Nubian community) where the African Commission and Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights have determined in the communities’ favour but the implementation is not progressing, both because of opposition by the state and the complex and long-standing nature of the cases. The legal history of colonial trust lands and recent community land legislation is discussed, the three key cases are summarized, and issues of indigenous people’s status, admissibility and respondent government discussed in relation to the UN Declarations on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1987), Right to Development (1986), and Land Issues (2009). Practical and political aspects of implementing the determinations are examined, and recommendations proposed.

Keywords: Indigenous people’s rights; Endorois; Ogiek; Nubian community; Kibera; land law reform; African Union enforcement.
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