52 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 14, 2009
The conception of property that a transitional state adopts is critically important because it affects the state’s ability to transform society. The classic conception of property gives property rights a certain sanctity that allows owners to have near absolute control of their property. But, the sanctity given to property rights has made land reform difficult and can serve as a sanctuary for enduring inequality. This is particularly true in countries where ownership is contested and land reform is essential due to pervasive past property theft. Oddly, the classical conception is flourishing in transitional states, like South Africa and Namibia, where transformation of the property status quo is essential. The specific question this Article addresses is: for states where past property dispossession threatens to destabilize the current state, is the classical conception appropriate or do these states require an alternative conception of real property? In this Article, I develop the transformative conception of real property to explore how the exigent need for societal transformation should inspire us to rethink property rights.
Keywords: Property, dispossession, restitution, South Africa, transitional justice, human rights
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