Research objectives and expected outputs


The overall objective is to enhance research capacity and inform policy through creating knowledge about management of land disputes, trust and governance during post conflict transition. We will examine emerging and contested roles of the overlapping governance institutions that people use to manage different kinds of conflicts over land. The hypothesis is that governance of transitions depends on capacity to establish a balance between trust and mistrust. These dispositions are evoked through interaction with institutions and personal experience with rights, possibilities, conflict management and outcome over time. We compare problems of family entrustment with those of larger scale entrustment and conveyance involving whole communities. The immediate objectives are:

  1. To explore issues of trust and mistrust in governance patterns based in clanship, kinship and marriage. These ‘micro-level’ institutions convey rights to land and are instrumental in livelihood and life chances of women and youth.
  2. To examine the governance roles of civil society actors and the ways they evoke trust and mistrust. These include customary leaders, religious organizations, and NGOs, promoting diverse, at times contradictory, agendas.
  3. To investigate the roles of government institutions (elected and administrative bodies) and legislation in intensification or mitigation of conflicts over common resources (e.g. oil) and land. These institutions have formal and informal aspects generating both trust and mistrust depending on positions of actors and context.

Expected outputs

  1. A study of land rights and descent relationships, with emphasis on generational conflicts. It will examine the changing role of entrustment, and explore relations of social identity and land rights, and the use of clan elders, customary leaders, Local Councils, NGOs, and the government judicial system.
  2. Studies on perceptions of, and responses to: a) prospects for oil production and b) prospects for commercial agriculture. Rumors, actual plans, hopes and fears will be analyzed in terms of trust and mistrust in governance institutions, including clans, civil society, formal and informal government channels, including government legislation on land.
  3. A study of women’s rights to land, other resources, and personal security. Focus will be on how wives, daughters, and sisters mobilize support from formal and informal institutions of governance, including the Police Family Protection Unit, NGOs and social networks.
  4. Studies on the roles of a) customary leaders and b) religious organizations in conflict resolution. Emphasis will be on the diverse kind of conflict to which they are relevant and the different kinds of people who trust and use them.
  5. A study of discourses about customary rights and human rights, the confidence they inspire, the situations in which they are deployed, and the changes occurring as a result of interventions by NGOs.

All studies will be developed and carried out in collaboration with relevant local actors, written up for publication, disseminated through dialogue and policy briefs. Support will be given to the research infrastructure at IPSS such as resources at the library, access to the internet and management of research.