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How the war in Ukraine affects land tenure security

Publication date: May 31, 2022

Written by: Halyna Kolesnyk, the Communications Manager of the Legal Development Network

Land is an important economic resource for Ukraine. It can help to survive now, in a situation of full-scale war in Ukraine, to recover and develop after its completion. However, this may be hampered by increased threats to land security through the decline of government, violence, demographic change, land grabbing, destruction of housing and infrastructure, and so on.

To learn more about these and other risks, the Legal Development Network in collaboration with the World Bank has initiated the creation of a framework for tracking risks to land tenure security in Ukraine.

сocoordinator of the project expert group Oleksii Shamov

‘What is happening now with the security of land use in Ukraine? What are the risks of land use? How can they be reduced in the postwar period? We will try to find the answer to all these questions in our study, which will last from June to July 2022 and will cover the entire territory of Ukraine.’ says the co-coordinator of the project expert group Oleksii Shamov.

Experts from the Legal Development Network will analyze the legislation and study how it affects land use and security. They will collect administrative data of responsible institutions and organizations to find out the situation in certain regions and territorial communities of Ukraine. Not only databases (registers, media, online government offices, requests for information) will be useful, but also the experience of lawyers and interviews with local government representatives.

Liudmyla Hrytsenko, co-coordinator of the project expert group

‘We need to know not only the law but also how it works, so to speak, the objective reality that exists on the ground. After all, before the war, we observed different case laws, different interpretations and perceptions of both legislative instruments and the consequences of their implementation, and today, during a full-scale war, administrative data have become even more important because different areas are in different conditions.’, Liudmyla Hrytsenko, co-coordinator of the project expert group, notes.

Policy and legislation may no longer reflect reality, such as mass displacement and the resurgence of historical land grievances and emergence of new ones. Legal and regulatory frameworks may remain unimplemented or used by state and non-state actors as a tool to disenfranchise certain groups. The inability to maintain land registries and cadasters means land records can become inaccurate and a source for new conflicts. Land records may also be destroyed, throwing land rights into chaos. Government can quickly lose control of public lands, and vulnerable persons become victims of forced evictions through sales of land occur under duress or coercion. Those with financial resources or political connections may exploit market distortions to their favor. These factors shape the core elements of land markets, creating conflict land markets that in turn threaten tenure security.

The study has already begun. In doing so, experts aim to understand how war affects land security, identify opportunities to mitigate identified risks and help plan a postwar land management system that strengthens land security.

The implementation of the project “Tool for comprehensive monitoring of security risks of land tenure in Ukraine” is supported by the World Bank under the #StandWithUkraine Program, coordinated by the Legal Development Network.

The World Bank, a credit and financial institution founded in 1945, is one of the largest in the world providing development assistance.

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