Ethiopia’s First Land Tenure Study

In 1965, H. S. Mann published "Land Tenure in Chore (Shoa): A Pilot Study" (data collection took place in 1963). It was Ethiopia's first land tenure study. It is a product of the Haile Sellassie I University, one of the many great publications that emerged during this time period – and which are increasingly difficult to obtain copies of. The land tenure study area took place around what is now Adama (formerly Nazareth).

The author was an FAO officer working with the then Imperial government. At the time, land tenure issues were becoming an increasingly important public issue, and indeed Haile Selassie sought to reform the tenure system. The reforms were not sufficient, and it was the land issue that contributed to his downfall. This study claims to be the first study of land tenure in the country – the study collected data on the systems of land tenure, land owner and tenant holdings, landlord-tenant relationships, and socio-economic institutions. The book also includes six appendices, which include the data collection tools and some relevant legal documents. All in 78 pages.

I hope to make this document available as a PDF in the near future.

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New Publication: Land Grabbing & Human Rights

Cochrane, L. (2016) Land Grabbing. In Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics, 2nd Edition, edited by P. Thompson and D. Kaplan.


  • The application of force to coerce individuals to illegally give up their land or the otherwise illegal dispossession of land, a process known as "land grabbing," is a violation of human rights – the arbitrary deprivation of property outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 17). Land grabbing is the most legally and ethically problematic form of large-scale land acquisitions. However, if direct or indirect force is not applied in the process of large-scale land acquisitions nor any laws broken, and the individuals involved receive sufficient benefit in exchange for their land, are the exchanges necessarily ethical? Based upon a human rights-based perspective, this chapter argues that human rights cannot be analyzed in isolation, but must be evaluated in totality in order to contextualize the vulnerability and duress experienced by those transferring their land. In doing so, it expands our conceptualization of what is considered "land grabbing" and what is not. Over the last decade, the majority of large-scale land acquisitions have taken place in countries where human rights are violated. In order for large-scale land acquisitions to be ethical, human rights must be met and protected to ensure that choices are truly free and fair. This is not a practical argument, made to improve the process, but an ethical argument based upon protecting the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and pastoralists, ensuring their choices are truly free and fair, not simply the product of a lack of options made from a position of vulnerability.
The full article is gated. Abstract and further publication details available via the link above. If you would like a copy of the article, send me an email.
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MA & PhD Studentships: Indigenous Territorial Rights in Russia

UNBC is seeking highly motivated and adventurous students to join a new research project, Indigenous Territorial Rights in the Russian Federation. The research team includes members from Canada, Finland, Lithuania, Norway and the Russian Federation. Students will pursue topics of their own choice under the broad themes of legal and/or cultural geographies of indigenous rights in the Russian North. Candidates should feel comfortable working in collaborative and multi-cultural environments.

• The Masters student may pursue either a MA in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (MA NRES) (with a focus on Geography or Environmental Studies) or an Interdisciplinary MA (MA IDIS).

• The PhD student will enter UNBC's interdisciplinary Natural Resources and Environmental Studies PhD program.

Some proficiency in Russian language is highly desirable at the MA level and required at the PhD level.

A competitive funding package will be offered to the successful candidates, including an annual stipend (up to 2 years for the MA student, 3 years for PhD student), plus support for field research costs in Siberia and for presenting research findings at conferences. Successful candidates will also be expected to apply for additional external funding, and mentored to do so. Students will be encouraged to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.

While an intake for September 2017 is most likely for the MA student, a September 2016 or January 2017 start may be possible for the exceptional candidate. For the PhD student, a start date of January 2017, May 2017 or September 2017 will be considered. For more information on the project, specific opportunities and expectations/responsibilities interested candidates should contact Dr. Gail Fondahl at UNBC.

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