TMG Think Tank for Sustainability

Human Rights-Based Land Governance Monitoring in Malawi

Exploring innovative tools to link human rights to land governance monitoring

The livelihoods of billions of farmers, pastoralists, and other rural communities are highly dependent on secure access to land resources. Land tenure security is also directly linked to the progressive realisation of several human rights, such as the right to food and adequate housing, and gender equality.

With nearly 90% of its population directly dependent on agriculture, Malawi is a case in point. High population growth rates, growing urbanisation and land concentration, and the promotion of investments in large-scale farming, all place additional pressure on scarce land resources. The impacts are particularly felt by female farmers, who often lack decision-making power over land and other economic assets.

The landmark Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of national food security provide a strong foundation for monitoring land governance. By placing an emphasis on multi-stakeholder platforms, and other inclusive processes to promote tenure rights, the voluntary guidelines echo the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, and other global instruments that seek to promote inclusive and sustainable development.

The Human Rights-Based Land Governance Monitoring Project was implemented from 2021 till beginning of 2023. It focused on land conflicts and violations of rights experienced by vulnerable and marginalized land users. It aimed to strengthen responsible land governance, and increase tenure security of vulnerable and marginalized communities in Malawi, herewith improving their livelihoods and contributing to sustainable development of all. It did so, by highlighting the human rights obligations of States that are at the heart of the VGGT.

Under this project, two Rights4Land tools have been developed, together with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC): the Human Rights 4 Land Navigator and the Human Rights 4 Land Monitoring Tool. These tools allow land and human rights to explicitly link land rights and human rights, which provides a strong narrative and the legal back-up for advocacy, litigation and policy improvements. It also allows land and human rights actors to hold governments accountable for securing tenure. 

The project supported National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and CSOs working on land issues to assess land governance legal framework and practice in Malawi, to reveal governance deficits leading to human rights violations. 

Project Name
Human Rights-Based Land Governance Monitoring in Malawi

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