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BY INVITATION ONLY: Land and Human Security in Africa
Date: 30 - 31 May 2011







During the last ten years Africa`s global strategic importance has been completely re-evaluated, following decades of instability and turmoil. This reassessment of the continent`s global position was at least partly the result of what has been called the ‘new scramble for African resources`. If the intensified fight for the control of strategic energy sources has turned the spotlight on mineral resources (oil, gas and rare earths), another dimension of the ‘scramble` has attracted less attention despite its major implications for peace and security in the continent. Attracted by the availability of large portions of unutilized fertile land in the continent, several countries and corporations have secured deals with governments that have been contested because of their ambiguous legitimacy. However, the current growing demand for African land, generally referred to as a ‘land grab`, presents both opportunities and threats for African countries.

The continent appears to have the cheapest prices worldwide for land but also the weakest regulatory frameworks regarding its ownership, distribution and exploitation. This opens the door for different forms of manipulation that could jeopardize food security at a time when increasing food prices have led to massive citizen protests around the continent.

Large scale (legal and illegal) acquisitions of land in Africa will continue to have diverse consequences for the continent. To understand the drivers behind land deals as well as examine the nature, different forms, and the security implications of this development, L`Observatoire de l`Afrique is organizing an international conference in Pretoria (South Africa) that will attempt to map out the political economy of land acquisitions in Africa.

The primary objective of this seminar is to bring together researchers, practitioners and policymakers to reflect critically on land issues in Africa, considering particularly the security implications of unresolved land questions in a rapidly globalizing world.

The seminar will seek to generate policy proposals and track progress in the following key areas:

  1. Increase knowledge about the nexus between land and conflict, to inform policymaking at government and community level.
  2. Increase transparency in the land acquisition processes and the underlying mechanisms of such deals.
  3. Discuss land issues in the context of post-conflict reconstruction strategies.
  4. Develop a holistic, pro-active and coordinated approach to land and conflict

The proceedings of the seminar will be documented in the form of a short policy report and the findings will be widely disseminated both within and outside Africa.


Melanie Roberts
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