One of the most difficult challenges to achieving durable solutions for persons displaced in ethnic or sectarian conflicts arises where the homes and lands they left behind have been destroyed or occupied by others. Without access to their most basic assets, displaced persons tend to remain vulnerable and dependent and face uncertain prospects of return. Restitution of such properties is usually both politically sensitive and legally complicated, but is increasingly recognized as a crucial component for the sustainability of peace settlements. However, while significant progress has been made in terms of recognition of the issue and development of general standards, implementation in post-conflict settings has remained inconsistent and ad hoc.
On Monday, June 9, from 3:00-5:00pm, the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement hosted a round-table discussion on the opportunities and challenges posed by property issues in post-conflict displacement settings. The speakers addressed the effort to develop consistent and principled approaches to property issues since the end of the Cold War, the results of these efforts to date in concrete post-conflict settings such as Bosnia and Iraq, and the challenges posed by attempts to resolve these issues in settings where property is held in informal or customary tenure, as in much of Africa.