Equitable treatment of all land users is crucial for revised Land Law

08 Nov 2012

imagePhoto: © United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

Ha Noi – As Viet Nam’s National Assembly is deliberating changes to its Land Law, the United Nations in Viet Nam, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, Oxfam, the EU Delegation in Viet Nam and the Embassies of Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States of America today released Joint Recommendations and a Policy Brief on “Revising the 2003 Law on Land in Viet Nam: Creating Equitable Treatment for Land Use Right Holders”.

"Equitable treatment of all land users is essential for more inclusive growth and human development in Viet Nam,” said Pratibha Mehta, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam. “The revisions of the Land Law provide a key opportunity to ensure a fair balance between the interests of developers and land users, especially farmers, and to promote greater transparency and accountability in Viet Nam’s land governance.”  

The joint recommendations address the most critical areas in which reforms are needed, including land recovery and compensation, strengthening protection of farmers’ land use rights, transparent and participatory land governance, gender equality, community land rights, the issuance of land use rights certificates, and increased consistency and transparency of the Land Law.

On land recovery, development partners recommend that:

  • Compulsory land recovery by the state (including for the Land Fund) be limited to cases of national defence, security and the public interest, not for economic investment projects;
  • Land should be recovered only after completion of transparent procedures, including prior public notification, public hearings for affected parties, and a free right of appeal to the court;
  • Compensation should reflect loss of livelihood and resettlement costs as well as the market value of the land;
  • The market value should be defined using independent and objective professional mechanisms.

In order to strengthen protection of farmers’ land rights, the recommendations call for:

  • Household agricultural land use rights to be granted for an unlimited term;
  • Farmers of rice lands should be free to change to more economically productive uses of the land, or to receive a subsidy if they are required to farm rice; and
  • Accumulation limits on land ownership to be eased for individual farming households.

To improve transparency and participation in land governance, development partners recommend:

  • A comprehensive national registration system of land use rights derived from the land records of the provincial agencies, based on individual land parcels;
  • Public access to all information related to land;
  • Active participation of all stakeholders in land administration and management; and
  • A reform of land planning based on spatial land use zoning

To promote greater gender equality, development partners recommend retention of the provision for joint names of husband and wife on land use rights certificates, and for more effective implementation of that provision.

In addition, the recommendations called for improved recognition of customary land use and management practices of local ethnic minority communities in land allocation, planning and policies, including establishment of a legal framework and criteria for issuance of land use rights certificates to the communities.

Development partners also recommend a simplification of the system for issuance of land use rights certificates, with full authority and responsibility granted to Land Registration Offices, simplified procedures, and reduced fees with full fee exemption for poor land users.

Finally, development partners recommend that the consistency and transparency of the Land Law be improved by harmonizing all relevant laws and subordinate legislation, following an open and transparent consultation process.

The recommendations and policy brief represent a consensus based on recent international experiences, research and studies conducted by international development partners in collaboration with Vietnamese institutions. They have been jointly drafted by an expert working group including the UN system in Viet Nam, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, AusAID and Oxfam. The EU Delegation in Viet Nam and the Embassies of Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States of America have also endorsed the recommendations. 

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Contact Information

Pernille Goodall, UN Communication Team, (+84) 38224383 (ext 123), pernille.goodall@undp.org 
Nguyen Viet Lan, UN Communications Team, (+84) 38224383 (ext 121), nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org