The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has a long history of work in the field of land policy and agrarian reform, playing a lead role in international co-operation from its founding up until the 1970s. From the 1990s on, the initiative in the design and development of land policies and agrarian reform has been taken up by the World Bank, with the FAO generally following its policies.
In this study of the World Bank's role in Guatemala, Eric Holt-Giménez shows how its programme for market-led land reform there complements its strategy for opening the Western Highlands to extractive industries.
In 2004 the EU Commission published EU Land Policy Guide-lines: Guidelines for Support to Land Policy Design and Land Policy Reform Process in Developing Countries. It proposes that steps be taken to allow the legal recognition of customary rights and to strengthen the institutional capacities of customary structures that enforce them.
With two-thirds of the world’s poor rural poor, rural democratisation is clearly relevant and urgent, but at the same time an especially difficult--and underestimated--challenge. If democracy is to be organically rooted in any society, the struggle to “get there” must systematically be opened up to integrate rural poor citizens system-wide, taking stock of their aspirations and, more importantly, their existing efforts to gain control of decision-making affecting their lives.