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Net News Publisher: Lao Announces Dramatic Shift in Land Policy, Commits to Expand Rights of Communities, Ethnic Groups
During a riveting keynote speech given at a international land and forestry conference in Vientiane this week, Dr. Souvanhpheng Bouphanouvong, President of the National Assembly of Lao’s Committee on Economic Planning and Finance, announced the government’s intention to undergo a nationwide formal process of large scale land reform, and prioritize the need for increased local land management, given that access to land for rural households is fundamental to sustained poverty alleviation.
“For over a year, Lao has been undergoing a process of reviewing and revising various policies and legislation pertaining to land and natural resources. What we’ve learned from countries across the world is that by ensuring local peoples’ rights to the land they live and work on, we are opening the door for numerous other benefits for our country.” said Dr. Souvanhpheng Bouphanouvong to the global audience at the Workshop on International Knowledge Sharing and Learning hosted by the National Assembly of Lao PDR in cooperation with the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and RECOFTC-The Center for People and Forests in Vientiane, Lao PDR, on August 28-29, 2012. The workshop was inaugurated by Dr. Saysomphone Phomvihane, Vice President of the National Assembly.
“A new national land policy is a priority in Laos,” Dr. Bouphanouvong added. “Land disputes are a top concern of Lao’s multi-ethnic population, and as a nation, we cannot ignore this opportunity to address conflicts and alleviate poverty.”
This historic commitment follows a recent change in the government organization responsible for land matters, which is now managed by the new Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), though the Lao National Assembly plays a key role in balancing accelerated economic development and growth with ensuring that benefits from this process are distributed equitably across Lao PDR. It also responds to increasing demand from villagers in Lao PDR for a review of existing land laws to ensure development projects don’t encroach on their land as they have in the past.
Today’s commitment from the president of a key committee of the National Assembly signals that the Lao government is dedicated to working closely with civil society and community groups to develop and implement a new national strategy to grant significant land rights to the people who live in and around the nation’s land and forest resources.
Mr. James Bampton, Program Director of RECOFTC noted how seriously the government is taking the land rights issue.
Posted By David Robeck at 10:02am on August 30, 2012
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