The Recognition of Customary Tenure in Cambodia

This thematic study explores the importance of customary tenure for rural Cambodians with the aim of strengthening its recognition. It begins with an overview of customary arrangements in the country, and their significance for the livelihoods and wellbeing of rural communities. This is followed by a discussion of the recognition of customary tenure in the Cambodian legal system, and the challenges confronted in the implementation of legal provisions. The third section examines the impacts of market driven land polices on vulnerable customary users, particularly the granting of economic land concessions and private land titling. Mechanisms – both formal and informal – for settling land disputes are also briefly examined. The final part of the paper identifies key opportunities to increase the recognition and protection of customary tenure in Cambodia and lays out recommendations for policy influence and for strengthening alliances, community rights and representation.

The study is based on a review of relevant literature and interviews held with representatives from government agencies, donors, civil society organizations and individuals with relevant expertise in Cambodia.

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