Land tenure and urban conflict: A review of the literature

M. Lombard

Research output: Working paper


In the context of increasing concern about urban violence and insecurity, land conflict has been seen as a critical factor. In an urbanising world, where more than 50 per cent of the global population now lives in urban areas, where and how people access land for shelter in cities has become one of the most pressing issues. In the urban informal settlements which house the majority of residents in global Southern cities, the effects of insecure tenure include forced eviction, displacement and resettlement. Insecurity of tenure has thus been identified as one of several increasingly serious threats to urban security and safety. However, the merits of policies aimed at increasing tenure security – most commonly through the provision of individual freehold titles – remain contested, in terms of both content and process. Moreover, land tenure legalisation is itself a contested process, which may generate conflict.Despite comprehensive work in this area from the fields of urban poverty research and violence research, the linkages between urban land and conflict are yet to be fully explored. In support of the research objective to explore the linkages between land tenure and conflict in rapidly urbanising cities, this paper explores the conceptualisation of land conflict as implicitly linked with urban growth embedded in research and policy debates on urbanisation. It presents an examination of the significance of land tenure as a development issue, as a means of understanding its prominence on international agendas. Finally, it reviews some key approaches to the analysis of land markets, and land conflict more generally, in order to move towards a conceptual framework for analysing land conflict in the context of urbanisation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUniversity of Manchester
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameGURC Working Paper Series
PublisherGlobal Urban Research Centre


  • Land tenure
  • Urbanisation
  • Conflict
  • Mexico

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


Dive into the research topics of 'Land tenure and urban conflict: A review of the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this