The Consultative Institute for Socio-Economic Development of Rural and Mountainous Areas (CISDOMA), in collaboration with the State-run Legal Aid Center of Nghe An province and Que Phong District Justice Department, organized three training courses on Raising legal literacy on land rights and counselling skills for Mediation groups and women’s clubs at grassroots level at the project communes, including Nam Nhoong, Cam Muon, and Tien Phong in Que Phong district, Nghe An province.

According to clause 1, article 202 of the Land Law 2013, when the parties have land disputes, the state shall encourage the disputing parties to settle by themselves or through grassroots mediation. And in case the self-reconciliation fails, the parties may send a petition to the commune-level People’s Committee of the locality where the disputed land is located for reconciliation.

It is reported that more than 70% of the civil disputes are related to land-related conflicts (According to Government Inspectorate of Vietnam). There are three main causes of land disputes: (i) Limited legal awareness and knowledge on land rights among citizens; (ii) Legal frameworks on land have not met the requirements of socio-economic development; (iii) Law propaganda and legal counselling services, as well as grassroots mediation, have not yet been effective.

The practical grassroot mediation work contributes significantly to raising people’s legal awareness and sense of observance. In the last two years, 109 participants (53% in females), who are members of the grassroot mediation groups and the village women’s clubs from Nam Nhoong, Cam Muon, and Tien Phong communes, were trained through three courses.

Through the training courses, the trainees were equipped with basic legal regulations on the rights and obligations of the State in land management, the rights and responsibilities of land users. Participants were also oriented on conditions for recognition of land use rights of individuals and households; and on the land-related mediation process at commune-level. During the training, the trainers also supported trainees in improving their skills in grassroot mediation in order to help facilitate local peoples to settle their land-related conflicts, disputes, and violations.

At the end of the training courses, participants, who are grassroot mediators, pledged that they would carry out the conciliation activities as well as provide more accessible information about the land administrative processes and procedures for land-using households. For those families that meet the requirements for obtaining a land use right certificate (LURC), the mediators will provide initial legal advice to apply for LURCs. And then they will also follow up on the process of submitting the applications of the land users to get new LURCs. In cases of families with errors in their LURCs such as in the name, address, area…, the mediators will evaluate the current LURCs’ status and make a list of instances in which the LURCs that need correction  and give advice on the suitable processes for the amendment. In addition, they will guide and support local people who have needs to register the changes in LURCs, such as revision, re-issuance, inheritance, donation, transfer, and change of land use purpose.

The courses are part of the project “Enhancing land rights for ethnic women in Vietnam via improved legal literacy and legal assistance” funded by INKOTA (Germany), which is implemented by CISDOMA from 2020 to 2022.

The project aims to support ethnic minority women in Que Phong district to be able to equally exercise their land rights, thanks to improved legal literacy and free legal services. In order to obtain the expected outcomes, the project works to increase legal literacy relating to gender equality in land rights; enhance communication skills and legal counselling skills for grassroot  mediators and local officials at all levels. As a result, these local cadre will effectively perform their tasks in providing assistance to local people, predominantly ethnic minority women, in their localities.

Source: “The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Portal”

The project has implemented 52 communication events relating to regulations of land law with the participation of 2,586 local people (72.8% of whom are ethnic minority women) at 52 villages in 13 communes in Que Phong district. Provided counselling to 201 people (54.6% are female) in order to resolve issues relating to land rights, such as (re)issuance of LURCs, completing legal papers for inheritance, donation, transfer of land use rights, change of land use purpose, and land disputes. As a result, 51 land dispute cases were resolved, with disputes arising from boundary conflicts, land encroachment due to undefined boundaries, using land with no legal ownership of the LURCs, inheritance of land use rights, and disputing division of land use rights after divorce.