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Barras, Francois-A. (1982) Land Law in Burundi: Legal and Social Ordering of Land Tenure in Historical and Contemporary Burundi. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis deals with Burundi land tenure (i) historically, with an analysis of reports, recorded cases and oral accounts relating to the colonial era, and (ii) contemporaneously with a description of selected land disputes. These data form the basis of an appraisal of Governmental ideas on land law reform. In Burundi rights in land may originate either in written or customary law or in instruments established by administrative authorities. The main objective of written law enacted during the colonial period was to regulate the relationships between Africans, the State and colonists concerning land, ensuring the security of tenure of the colonists through a system of leases and freeholds. After Independence most colonial Acts were kept in force. At present, only a minute part of the territory, mostly in urban areas, is governed by written law, whereas most land is still held according to customary law which defines with great precision the various interests individuals and groups may have in land. Finally, in urban areas and in rural settlement schemes, colonial and Burundi administrative authorities have granted interests in land known as "droits d'occupation". In 1978, the Government devised a project of land law reform based on the view that all forms of tenure should be converted to tenure under written law as organized by the Civil Code. This project represents a form of cultural alienation. Colonial law was enacted to fit the colonial situation; the first step to land law reform is therefore not the conversion of tenure, but a rethinking of the relationships between men regarding land in contemporary Burundi, leading to the enactment of new rules which will take into account the various existing systems of land tenure, the various social and economic functions of land, and the development objectives of the Government.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:20

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