Land, Property, and Conflict

Disputes and grievances over land and property are implicated in practically all conflicts. This course provides policymakers and practitioners with analytical tools for assessing and addressing an array of complex land and property disputes, from competing ownership claims and restitution to customary land rights and illegal urban settlements.

Photo Credit: Celena Canode
Peter van der Auweraert and Deborah H. Isser

Drawing on case studies of peace operations and peacebuilding efforts, participants explore the range of entry points (humanitarian, human rights, state building, development, etc.) and options for dispute resolution and structural reform. Participants will learn to understand the overarching principles of engagement, assess the desirability of intervention options, and apply lessons learned from several case studies, including Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Colombia.

This course is organized together with the Land, Property and Reparations Division of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), The World Bank, and USAID.


Deborah Isser joined the World Bank in January 2011, where she is Global Program Manager for the Justice for the Poor program and leads the Bank’s work on justice in fragile and conflict-affected states. She is currently serving as a core team member of the World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law.  From 2004 through 2010, she served as Senior Rule of Law Adviser at the United States Institute of Peace, where she directed projects on legal pluralism, and on land and conflict. Previously, Deborah served as senior policy adviser at the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and special adviser on peacekeeping at the United States Mission to the United Nations. She is the editor of Customary Justice and the Rule of Law in War-Torn Societies (USIP Press 2011), and author of several reports, articles and book chapters on justice in fragile and conflict affected states. She has served as adjunct faculty at Georgetown and George Washington Law Schools. Deborah received her law degree from Harvard Law School, MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and BA from Columbia University.

Peter Van Der Auweraert works as Head of the Land, Property and Reparations Division at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva, Switzerland. He has worked on post-crisis land and property issues, transitional justice and peacebuilding in, amongst other countries, Burundi, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Timor-Leste, Iraq, the Philippines, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Prior to his current post, he was Executive Director of Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), an international NGO working on access to justice issues in post-conflict and transitional countries in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia. From 1999-2006, he held a Visiting Lectureship in International Criminal and Public Law at the University of Turku in Finland. Peter earned an LLM in International Law from the University of London, United Kingdom, and a first degree in law from the University of Antwerp, Belgium. He has published widely on reparations, forced migration and post-crisis land and property issues and regularly tweets on the same issues @peterauweraert.

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