| 23-11-2017

The Human Right to Land

Position Paper

Access to, control over and use of land are fundamental for people and communities throughout the world, especially for small-scale food producers, who feed the world’s population. As it is increasingly recognized that land is crucial for the realization of human rights, the time has come to give the right to land full recognition as a human right in itself.

The new publication proposes to recognize the human right to land as the right of every human being to effectively access, use and control – individually or in community – land and related natural resources in order to feed and house themselves, and to live and develop their cultures. Based on the fact that all human beings rely, directly or indirectly, on land and other natural resources for their survival, States are obliged to strengthen the recognition, respect, protection and fulfilment of this right.

While an increasing number of human rights instruments as well as observations by UN human rights treaty bodies recognize the inextricable connection between land and the realization of human rights, existing international human rights law guarantees only limited land rights to date. “The time has come to evolve from an instrumentalist approach to land – which considers land as a gateway to the realization of other rights – to the recognition that land sustains life and shapes identity and culture. Recognizing the human right to land strengthens the human rights framework as such, including the right to food and nutrition,” says Sofia Monsalve, Secretary General of FIAN International.