Property in Land, Displacement, and Fair compensation

DRAN has started work on a new project funded by the Samuel Tak Lee Research Fund. The project compares compensation frameworks for displaced individuals and communities across five different countries—USA, India, South Africa, Colombia and Brazil—along with international standards from the World Bank and various UN bodies. Each national compensation framework will be analyzed in practice through 5 detailed case studies using primarily qualitative methods. Key issues to be addressed in the project will include: the different ways in which landed property is assigned value; the rights afforded to communities in negotiating for compensation; and some possible alternative compensation frameworks that could be pursued by governments or international agencies.

The project focuses on several different dimensions of “fairness” in the compensation process and attempts to assess different frameworks along those dimensions. In addition to the substantive amount of compensation—what people actually receive—we are also focused on the process through which individuals and communities receive compensation for displacement and the various sub-questions implicated therein. We conceive of “process” as the set of opportunities individuals and communities have to articulate value claims in contesting their displacement in the first instance (whether they will be displaced at all) and, eventually, the terms of their actual displacement (what they will receive for compensation) through various institutions, including bureaucratic bodies and court systems. Our analysis of the compensation process aims to reveal any opportunities individuals might have to articulate non-monetary claims for compensation, including compensation in the form of land and/or housing, and other types. It may also reveal the various tactics used by governments to narrow the range of compensation types and the actual package of compensation through the process.