The State, Land and Conflicts In The Sudan
This paper examines state land policy and conflict in four different areas in Sudan; South Kordofan, Darfur, the Blue Nile and Khartoum’s countryside. Drawing on the literature on customary land tenure, state and conflict in Africa, and using secondary and some primary material plus the researcher’s own field experience, the paper examines how state land policies have impacted differently by causing different forms of conflict in different parts of rural Sudan when effectively put in practice. The paper argues that state legislation has created land tenure dualism simultaneously incorporating both the practice of customary tenure pursued by farming and pastoralist communities and the legal status of these communal lands as state-owned; i.e., considered vacant or un-owned. In this dualism the state sometimes invoked state legal ownership rights to establish effective state control over communal land used and occupied by local communities, (for local and foreign business investment). In South Kordofan, the Blue Nile, Darfur and around Khartoum, state denial of customary land rights resulted, in displacement, impoverishment and different forms of violent conflicts. Current state tendency to put state legal ownership over communal lands into effect for large scale sale or lease to investors amounts to denying Sudanese pastoralists and farming communities of their land use rights established for generations. This is bound to create more severe and fierce conflicts, unless the dualism in land tenure is resolved by the recognition and legalization of customary land ownership, access and use rights.