This paper revisits the legal status of land tenure in Cameroon in response to many publications which claim that 97% of land belongs to the State. In fact, the current Cameroonian land-tenure system is based on the distinction between public/State lands; private lands and national lands. Therefore, the review of the legislation in force and the theory of constitutional law show that a more nuanced interpretation of the legal status of land and forests in Cameroon leads to the conclusion that the State does not have sole and absolute ownership over land and forests, as many studies claim. From this viewpoint, distinction should be made between State ownership of public land and State administration of national lands which really belong to the Cameroonian Nation or People. However, the current legal (vague) status granting sole and absolute powers to the State as custodian of national lands no longer meets local communities and indigenous peoples claims on land inherent in the global REDD+ impetus and land grabbing. Hence, there is need to initiate policy and legal reforms so as to provide for land belonging to local communities and indigenous communities, distinct from the national lands domain.
Topic: land tenure, ownership, legal system, nations, public domain
Publication Year: 2014
Source: Development Studies Research: An Open Access Journal 1(1): 148-160