The Political Economy of Land Governance in Cambodia

This country level analysis addresses land governance in Cambodia in two ways. First, it summarises what the existing body of knowledge tells us about power and configurations that shape access to and exclusion from land, particularly among smallholders, the rural poor, ethnic minorities and women. Second, it draws upon existing literature and expert assessment to provide a preliminary analysis of the openings for and obstacles to land governance reform afforded by the political economic structures and dynamics in the country. 

Cambodia is marked by growing inequalities in wealth, reflected by unequal access to land. This is the case despite the redistribution of land in the 1980s based on household size and number of labourers. Cambodia is also characterised by limited formal recognition of land tenure in areas where potential for conflict and dispossession is greatest. In the absence of large-scale land concessions, a degree of land security is afforded by a customary tenure regime that gives farmers possession rights over cultivated land. However, such rights of possession have been insufficient to protect farmers from state sanctioned land grabbing. The granting of large land concessions to powerful actors for agribusiness and resource extraction, as well as smaller scale dispossession and accumulation by local elites, provide the key context for land grabbing and tenure insecurity.

This report on Cambodia is one of a series of country reports on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV) that seek to present country-level analyses of the political economy of land governance.

Scroll to Top