Land Tenure Journal, No 1 (2012)

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An overview of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure

Paul Munro-Faure, David Palmer


This is the first in a series of four papers on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure. This paper provides an overview on the Guidelines and describes tenure and the need for the Guidelines. The second paper presents the preparation of the Guidelines, the third one describes why the tenure of land, fisheries and forests is the focus of the Guidelines, and the fourth one addresses the implementation of the Guidelines.

Tenure and its governance are crucial factors in the eradication of hunger and poverty, and the sustainable use of the environment. They play a central role in determining if and how people, communities and others are able to acquire rights to use and control land, fisheries, forests and other natural resources.

The Guidelines are the first international instrument on governance of tenure. They serve as a reference and set out principles and internationally accepted standards for practices for the responsible governance of tenure. They provide a framework that States can use when developing their own strategies, policies, legislation, programmes and activities. They allow governments, civil society, the private sector and citizens to judge whether their proposed actions and the actions of others constitute acceptable practices.

The Guidelines promote responsible governance of tenure with respect to all forms of tenure: public, private, communal, indigenous, customary, and informal. Gender is mainstreamed throughout the Guidelines. The Guidelines are structured in seven parts and the paper provides an overview of their contents.

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