Thu May 7, 2009 by Anil Kalhan
Leitner Center Embarks on Project in Nepal
Land access, land tenure security, and related land rights are fundamental bases for the right to an adequate standard of living and are tied to the indigenous, ethnic, and cultural identities of peoples. Yet the problem of landlessness is growing worldwide: A quarter of the world’s population is landless. In Nepal, estimates suggest that over half the population is functionally landless.
For two weeks beginning May 9, Fordham Law School Professors Elisabeth Wickeri, Martha Rayner, and James Kainen will lead a delegation including eight law students on an overseas project to investigate and document the impact that inadequate access to land has on the rights of landless and land-poor people in Nepal, a country of 29 million in South Asia where landless people are disproportionately indigenous, of lower castes, and are women.
The Leitner Center delegation will document the impact that inadequate access to land has on human rights, including the rights to housing, food, water, and political participation. The delegation will also examine the evolving legal framework for landless people to secure their rights in a country emerging from ten years of conflict.
Professors Wickeri, Rayner, and Kainen will be joined by two additional human rights experts, Professors Anil Kalhan and Aoife Nolan. The Fordham Law School students participating in the documentation project are Crowley Scholars Amal Bouhabib, Corey Calabrese, Millie Canter, Benjamin Goldstein, Ganesh Krishna, Noushin Ketabi, David Mandel-Anthony, and Amisha Sharma. The delegation is happy to be working with the Kathmandu-based Community Self-Reliance Center.
The delegation will conduct wide-ranging interviews with members of the government, the judiciary, academics, lawyers, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, land rights organizers, men and women in rural landless communities, landlords, and local leaders whose expertise will inform a deeper understanding of the issues.
The delegation spent the spring semester studying human rights and Nepali culture and history. Following the fieldwork, the Leitner Center will publish a report of their findings which will be distributed in Nepal and internationally.
The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School promotes teaching, scholarship, and advocacy in the field of public international law. The Center sponsors programs designed to prepare law students for work as human rights lawyers and seeks to have a real and measurable impact on the level of respect for international human rights standards.
Contact: Elisabeth Wickeri