15 years on, Siwatibau’s wisdom on land tenure in his SPLTC Symposium welcome address remains as valid as ever.

Transforming Land Conflict – FAO/USP/RICS Foundation South Pacific Land Conflict Symposium Welcome Address by the late Savenaca Siwatibau, Vice Chancellor, University of the South Pacific – 10 April 2002.

The video can also be viewed in YouTube at  https://youtu.be/gvjpFG9mCK0

Caveat: this was recorded live in Fiji in 2002 on VHS – the video aspect is 4:3 and there has been some deterioration in the magnetic tape so please be patient with screen flickers.

The full transcript is available Savenaca Siwatibau – Welcome Address – SPLTC Symposium – Full Transcript (opens PDF).

The Symposium ‘Declaration and Resolutions’ is available her SPLTC Symposium – Official Declaration and Resolutions (opens PDF).

Ulai meets Pope Francis to talk about Indigenous Land Rights

Ulai Baya (3rd to Pope Francis’ right)

Last week Ulai was in Rome to participate in the Third Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples´ Forum at IFAD The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Ulai is the Pacific Regional Representative, which enables him to make the case for the rights of customary landowners on the World Stage.

In a private meeting with indigenous peoples’ representatives, Pope Francis stressed the need to  reconcile development, both social and cultural, with the protection of indigenous peoples and their territories, “especially when planning economic activities that may interfere with their cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth”. 

“In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail,” Pope Francis said. “Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”

See IFAD press release  Development should consider indigenous cultures and their relationship to the earth.

See NBC news item Pope Francis Says Native People Have Rights Over Their Lands.

Vatican Pope US Pipeline
Pope Francis, standing at right, meets with representatives of indigenous peoples attending a UN agricultural meeting in Rome, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. Francis has insisted that indigenous peoples must give prior consent for any economic activity on their ancestral lands — an indirect critique as the Donald Trump administration seeks to advance construction on a $3.8 billion oil pipeline over opposition from American Indians. (L’Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP). Ulai Baya seated 3rd from right of camerman.

Land, Indigenous People and Conflict

Spike Boydell is General Editor of the Routledge Complex Real Property Rights book series.

The first book launced in the series is Land, Indigenous People and Conflict edited by Alan Tidwell and Barry Zellen. 9781138847637

As Spike explains in his foreword for the volume:

Real Property Rights are central to the economy and provide a legal framework for how society (be it developed or customary) relates to land and buildings.  Property rights are both institutional arrangements and social relations. We need to better understand property rights to ensure sustainable societies, careful use of limited resources and sound ecological stewardship of our land and water.

Land conflict is all around us – from corporate and political corruption over land dealings in the developed world, to land grab in developing countries, to compromised indigenous property rights, to resource exploitation. At a time where global food security, water security and shelter are paramount, an understanding of property rights is key to sustainability.

Contemporary property rights theory is dynamic and this series strives to engage thinkers who are prepared to step beyond their disciplinary limitations.  ‘Property Rights’ is a broad term that is fundamentally about social relations.  Real property rights, obligations and restrictions can be found in and change across the full range of human societies, both in time and space. Property rights research has emerged from a broad range of disciplines including (but not limited to) archaeology, anthropology, ethics, sociology, psychology, law, geography, history, philosophy, economics, planning, and business studies.

Much writing on property rights has, historically, been mono-disciplinary.  A disciplinary approach has caused a plurality of understanding about property rights that extends significantly beyond the dominant legal / economic divide.  Disciplinary thinking has not minimised or helped to manage / limit land conflict.  What makes this series special is that it facilitates a transdisciplinary approach to understanding property rights and will specifically encourage heterodox thinking.

Land, Indigenous Peoples and Conflict’ is the appropriate title with which to launch the Routledge Complex Real Property Rights series.  As the editors of this volume, Alan Tidwell and Barry Zellen have brought together an eclectic collection of authors who mutually share a depth of insight into contemporary conflicts over indigenous land. 

Land, Indigenous Peoples and Conflict’ has several distinguishing features. Primarily, it is transdisciplinary in nature. Any discussion of the link between land, indigenous peoples, and conflict necessarily requires drawing on ideas, concepts and principles from such disparate disciplines as cultural anthropology, political science, sociology, economics, just to name a few. Taking a transdisciplinary approach helps the authors connect theory to observed reality, which in turn gives traction to inform potential policy outcomes.

A second distinguishing feature of ‘Land, Indigenous Peoples and Conflict’ concerns the geographic breadth of coverage of the edited volume, spanning from the Arctic to the tropics and including mainland Asia as well as the Austro-Pacific islands; both North and South America; northern Eurasia (Siberia), as well as Africa. Touching upon a geographically broad range enables readers to become more generally acquainted with the diverse property rights challenges indigenous peoples face. A third distinguishing feature of ‘Land, Indigenous Peoples and Conflict’ is its emphasis on both land rights as well as identifying the many ways in which conflicts are managed or resolved.  Uniquely, ‘Land, Indigenous Peoples and Conflict’ provides a breadth and depth to the question of indigenous land conflict not found in other texts.

For more information on this book, and others in the series, please click here.

3 new research papers on Customary Land

Three new research papers have just been added to our Research page.

Using the Plurality of Registers to Investigate Conflict over Customary Land‘ attempts to articulate the disconnected worldview between indigenous values and capitalist interests. This paper critically examines the tensions that result when common law attempts to establish a commercial rights (i.e. a property right) over customary land.

Demystifying the Valuation of Customary Land‘ breaks sown the myths and mystique that surrounds the valuation of customary land.  Whilst appreciating that the inalienable notions of land held by the customary stewards (or guardians) is very at odds with the commodity view of the West that emphasises individual ownership, we attempt to deconstruct these tensions associated with social and economic value through a property rights approach.

Towards the Valuation of Unregistered Land‘ reports on an ongoing UN-Habitat/Global Land Tools Network initiative we are involved with that strives to facilitate the valuation of unregistered land (which forms 70% of land ownership in developing countries).

We hope that you find them useful.

CASLE / UTS: APCCRPR / IAAPLPR Pacific Regional Symposium a huge success

Over 50 delegates participated in the CASLE / UTS: APCCRPR / IAAPLPR Pacific Regional Symposium on Land and Property Rights in the South Pacific in Honiara, Solomon Islands, last week (5-7 August 2014).  Hosted by the Solomon Islands Government Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey, and with a £6,500 grant from the Commonwealth Foundation, the symposium was facilitated by four members of the UTS: Asia-Pacific Centre for Complex Real Property Rights: Prof. Spike Boydell, Prof. John Sheehan, Ulai Baya and Mike McDermott.

Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 Hon Manasseh Maelanga MP - opening address
Deputy PM, the Hon Manasseh Maelanga MP, opens the Symposium on 5 August.
L-R: Mike McDermott, Prof John Sheehan, Stanley Waleanisia, Hon Manasseh Maelanga, Prof Spike Boydell, Ulai Baya, Buddley Ronnie.


There was heated debate about Climate Change and land issues in the Pacific Region, Land Resource Compensation, Using Property Trusts and Leases to support Customary Landowners, and Carbon Property Rights. Each session had a workshop component (see photos below) and there were two comprehensive case studies on Land Compensation (Tina Hydro team) and Land Policy Intervention (Vanuatu Land Program team).

For more video, images and the delegate resource pack, please click on the CASLE / UTS: APCCRPR / IAAPLPR Symposium page (tab above).

Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 Mike in HBA mode Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 12 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 11 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 10 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 9 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 8 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 7 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 6 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 5 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 4 feedback Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 3 Mike McDermott explaining HIDEGRE Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 2 Mike McDermott explaining HIDEGRE Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 HBA workshop 1 Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 Gregory Rofeta, Undersecretary (Admin) MoLHS - leads HBA workshop Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 Day 2 - MC Nelson Naoapu, Undersecretary (Technical) MoLHS Honiara CASLE Symposium August 2014 CASLE Regional VP Buddley Ronnie in workshop mode

Fiji parties urged to outline land policy ahead of poll – ABC News 24


Following on from his 7th June editorial in the Fiji Times, Professor Spike Boydell has been interviewed by ABC correspondent Sean Dorney for this item on ABC News 24 ‘The World’, which first aired on 24 June 2014. It also includes comments from the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayad-Khaiyum and Prof Satish Chand.  The link to the piece on the ABC website is available here.

Boydell ABC with logo“What people want is stability and land is central to that stability.” (Spike Boydell)


Call for Land Policies ahead of Fiji Elections – ABC Pacific Beat

Professor Spike Boydell has been interviewed on ABC Radio Australia about the need for political parties in Fiji to explain their land policies ahead of the elections.  A transcript of the interview is available here.  The full piece on ABC Radio Australia – Pacific Beat – first aired on 24 June 2013 is available here.

Why land is central to Fiji’s future stability

FT 'Time Bomb' imageWith 100 days to go to the Fiji elections in September, none of the political parties have yet explained in their manifesto’s how they will deal with land (indeed, where are the manifesto’s?).  In his feature editorial in the Fiji Times on Saturday 7th June, Spike Boydell highlights that being clear on land issues, having equitable leases that are fit for purpose at market rents, and respecting the paramountcy of iTaukei land – the vanua – is central to long term economic and political stability in Fiji.

Read the full article here.

Pacific Regional Symposium – Land and Property Rights in the South Pacific – Honiara 5-7 August 2014

Symposium image flyer

CLS members Spike Boydell, Ulai Baya and John Sheehan are co-facilitating the Pacific Regional Symposium – Land and Property Rights in the South Pacific – Honiara 5-7 August 2014 (flyer & registration form) with Mike McDermott.

This Symposium is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE), the University of Technology, Sydney: Asia-Pacific Centre for Complex Real Property Rights (UTS: APCCRPR) and the International Academic Association for Planning Law and Property Rights (IAAPLPR). It is being hosted by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Lands, Housing and Surveys.  It has been made possible through a small grant from the Commonwealth Foundation and the support of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Surveys.

This is the second regional Land and Property Rights symposium co-facilitated by the UTS: APCCRPR and the IAAPLPR.

Please click on the highlighted text above, or the image on the left for more information.

The CLS site will be the digital repository for the symposium resources and video record of the event.  If you are unable to attend, but would like to be notified when the resources are online, please complete the following contact form:

How to make the iTLTB better – a users guide

Never a pWorld Bank 2014 logorophet at home, today we took our review of the iTaukei Land Trust Board (iTLTB) to the world stage, presenting to a packed conference venue at the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference 2014 in Washington DC.
Sometimes, Fiji just doesn’t realise how good they have things.

Boydell & Baya WB 2014 slideOur analysis of the iTLTB highlights that the recording of landowner groups in Fiji over the last 120 years, whilst not without some problems, has made it easier to set up a land trust administration to make surplus customary land available for economic development by using lease structures. The iTLTB has now been running (in its earlier guise as the NLTB) for almost 70 years. In this paper we have provided a comprehensive analysis of the iTLTB and made a number of recommendations as to how it may further enhance the professional services that it offers to the customary landowners that it serves.

So come on iTLTiTLTB logoB, it is time to stop being lethargic (according to PM Bainimarama) and take leadership of land in Fiji.  And to all of you aspiring to run for the elections in Fiji this year… you can’t afford to overlook the land issue. You can read our roadmap for making the iTLTB fit for purpose in the 21st Century here.