Vanuatu

In Vanuatu the majority of land is still held under indigenous customary tenure systems, which are recognised and protected by the national constitution.

Beginning in the mid-1990's, however, the corrupt misuse of Ministerial powers to approve leases of customary land without landowner consent, as well as the approval of leases in collusion with corrupt landowner representatives, resulted in widespread dissatisfaction with the Government's management of land dealings in general.

Since the Comprehensive Reform Program (the "CRP", an ADB-funded structural adjustment program by another name) was initiated in 1998 with a primary focus on attracting foreign investment to boost GDP growth, the Government has succumbed to it's own stated imperatives for economic growth as well as significant pressure from outside interests to accelerate the granting of leases without regard for due process and the interests of landowning groups.

Growing landowner dissatisfaction resulted in the convening of a national land summit in 2006 to try to "correct" these problems, which produced 20 resolutions aimed at protecting customary tenure and promoting the adherence of the Government to the articles of the constitution relating to land. Six years after the land summit, however, virtually none of it's resolutions have been implemented and instead an AusAID-sponsored land reform program has been initiated which purports to deal with a select few of the resolutions.

Many see AusAID's "Mama Graon" program as encouraging customary land boundary demarcation and other activities that will result in the facilitation of land registration and ultimately further and ongoing alienation of land from community control. Meanwhile, the corrupt administration of land dealings by the Minister and the government continues.

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