Policy forum focuses on land management in ethnic minority areas
Less access to fertile land for cultivation is one of the main reasons for persistent poverty among ethnic minority households. This issue, as well as how to ensure equitable and stable access of ethnic minority communities to land and issues around the revision of the Land Law, was discussed by high-level policy makers and other stakeholders at a policy forum in Ha Noi on 25 January 2013.
The policy forum was jointly organized by the Ethnic Minority Council of the National Assembly, the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs and the United Nations in Viet Nam. It was attended by representatives from the National Assembly, the Government and development partners. Representatives from ethnic minority communities also came to present on typical land issues that they face in their respective provinces.
In their opening speeches leaders from the Ethnic Minority Council and the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs called for ideas and recommendations from national and international participants on solutions for land management and use in ethnic minority and mountainous area.
“Results from the National Assembly Standing Committee's oversight missions in 2012 on residential and production land suggest many policy issues that need to be tackled, including land use rights that are suitable for traditional and customary practices and in ethnic minority communities,” said Mr Danh Ut, Vice President of the Ethnic Minority Council. Mr Danh Ut further stressed that the ideas and recommendations from the forum should contribute to making the revised Land Law more relevant for ethnic minority communities as well as reflect traditional and customary practices in land management.
Mr Son Phuoc Hoan, Vice Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs, highlighted the importance of land policies in addressing poverty and social instability in ethnic minority communities. “The main cause of social instability is conflict over land and this has been the case for many decades. The breakdown of traditional farming practices and land use rights among ethnic minorities after 1975, the inflow of Kinh people to ethnic minority areas together with the resettlement of ethnic minority people has affected the livelihoods of ethnic minority households,” said Mr Son Phuoc Hoan. Mr Son said that land management and use in ethnic minority and mountainous areas was an issue of primary concern to his Committee – the state management agency that advises the Government on important ethnic minority decisions and policies.
Participants at the Forum heard more about the findings of National Assembly oversight visits in 2012 as well as research by development partners on land policy issues and their impact on vulnerable groups, followed by a discussion on concrete recommendations for the amendments to the Land Law.
"The United Nation in Viet Nam welcomes the efforts of the Government and National Assembly to revise the 2003 Land Law as a fundamental instrument of securing inclusive and equitable development in Viet Nam”, said Ms Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam. She also highlighted a number of issues to be considered when re-thinking land policies. This includes access to fertile land for cultivation for ethnic minorities; the importance of traditional and customary practices and indigenous knowledge in land management, use and conflict resolution; the empowerment of local communities in managing forests in a sustainable manner; and the importance of ensuring ethnic minority people actively participate in the process of revising the Land Law and formulating other land policies.
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