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Adusei, Lord Aikins (2024) An Island of peace in an ocean of turbulence? The case of Land Guards in Ghana. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This dissertation is about security governance and land governance particularly land guards, landguardism and associated security in Ghana. Its central argument is that land guards and landguardism threaten Ghana’s stability, peace, security and development. It challenges the ‘Ghana is stable’ thesis which has been dominant in the academic and policy literatures in the last three decades which portray Ghana as a ‘small heaven’, ‘an island of peace’ and ‘an oasis of peace’ in a region associated with instability. It agrees that while Ghana has been stable relative to her neighbours, the Ghanaian state also faces several non-military threats and challenges one of which is landguardism which involves the use of violence or the threat of violence by some actors to protect or guard land or housing property belonging to those actors or other actors. The dissertation traces the genesis of landguardism to the decision in 1877 by the British colonial government to move the capital from Cape Coast to Accra, a decision which dramatically changed the value of land in the town and set in motion a litany of problems including disputes, litigation, conflict and violence. The emergence of landguardism is also strongly linked to Ghana’s land tenure system which is largely insecure and does not protect both communal and private property rights. It is also observed that the Ghanaian state’s lack of political will, its institutional incapacity to democratically resolve social conflicts such as land conflicts and land disputes and to end the ubiquity of landguardism in the cityscape has contributed to the evolution and transformation of landguardism into extremely violent activity in which land guards routinely employ violence, harassment, intimidation and murder to enforce their will. Consequently, landguardism has grown to become a leading security and development problem in southern Ghana particularly in the transition peri-urban zones. Landguardism particularly threatens governability of the entire Greater Accra Region (GAR) as well as the regions bordering GAR. Particularly, the murders, assaults and violence iv destabilise communities, and threaten human security including personal security, food security and livelihoods of peri-urban farmers. It threatens Ghana’s economic security dealing heavy blow to confidence of investors, real estate developers, as well as small businesses such as salt producers, and tourism providers. Besides, landguardism erodes the capacity of the police to provide security as vital police resources are devoted to fighting the menace. Metropolitan, district and municipal authorities facing myriads of economic, security, social and environmental problems are forced to divert their limited resources to ameliorate landguardism. Landguardism also worsens land and chieftaincy disputes. The dissertation explores the state’s relationship with land guards as well as its response to the landguardism threat particularly the state’s decision to criminalise landguardism through Acts 999 and 1036 and the public’s perception of that response. There is a mixed public opinion regarding whether Acts 999 and 1036 are needed in the first place. There is however, public consensus that the lack of enforcement of existing rules and laws governing land management, land acquisition, use of proceeds by chiefs as well as urbanisation, fragile economy, youth unemployment among others have acted as the fuel to fan the flame of landguardism. There is also consensus that criminalising and outlawing landguardism by the state is a right decision. This is shown by the outright opposition to the idea of legalising and regulating landguardism. The thesis identifies landguardism as a network and because it is a network the state by disproportionately focusing on the land guards and ignoring the role of other institutions and actors, has made its policies ineffective. As such more attention should be paid to other actors in the network whose actions and inactions allow landguardism to thrive. The thesis identifies the decline of Asafo Companies that formerly acted as a countervailing force against the chiefly and landowning class as well the fragile economy as playing a major role in the proliferation of landguardism in southern Ghana and recommends that the revival of the Asafo institution and building a robust economy could go a long way to bring sanity to the land sector.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Zoe Marriage
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2024 13:48

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