Property Restitution Laws in a Post-War Context: The Case of Mozambique

In: African Journal of Legal Studies
Author: Jon Unruh
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Post-war reconstruction environments involve particular contexts within which legal reform must operate in order to facilitate the peace process, recovery, and development. Land and property restitution after a war is an important but difficult issue for the integrity of the process, given the chaotic rights environment created by war and the limited financial, personnel, and institutional resources of governments recovering from war. This article examines Mozambique's experience with the creation of a land and property restitution legal regime within a post-war context that includes: a) strong restitution desires by very divided segments of the population that differ markedly in literacy, access to the state, allegiance during the war, attachment to legitimate authority, and tenure system; b) a history of changing and failed land policy; and c) the extreme lack of state capacity needed to manage a formal restitution program. After setting out the history of the war and land policy in Mozambique, the article examines restitution claims, and describes how the land law reform has attempted to produce a legal environment whereby many complex restitution cases could be 'self managed.'

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