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Northwestern University

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development

Abstract

As Vietnam continues to search for its ideal balance between Communist control and a market-led economy, land rights emerge at the forefront of the discussion concerning the tension between traditional Socialist ideals of people-owned and state managed property versus neoliberal ideals of private property rights. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, this study will explore the legal relationship between the Vietnamese state and individuals in regards to land ownership, land management, and land use rights, explaining how this relationship has changed over time with subsequent land laws. Going further, this study will focus on the 2013 land law reform and explain the major differences, if any, from past land laws and how these differences will affect the state’s right to appropriate land—often called “land grabbing”—for both public and private development. Second, through interviews, this study will also explore the roles of two international organizations, The World Bank and Action Aid Vietnam, within the current debate over land rights, exploring each organization’s relationship with the Vietnamese government and opinions regarding land grabbing and the 2013 land law.

This study focuses on three major issues surrounding land in Vietnam: land valuation and unfair compensation, “public” (land seized for projects for the public good) versus “private” (land seized for projects for the benefit of an individual or company) appropriation, and corruption at both the national and local levels. These three issues will be exemplified by the case studies in Van Giang, Hai Phong, and “Green Alley,” looking at the roles of local advocates and demonstrations. Finally, this paper explores the influence of ActionAid’s land campaign and the World Bank’s Land Policy Note in the crucial period leading up to the drafting of the 2013 Land Law, which was passed by the National Assembly at the end of November. This paper will conclude with some of the major changes of the new law, including the new stipulations regarding the appropriation of land for the purposes of “economic development.”

Disciplines

Inequality and Stratification | Land Use Law | Natural Resources and Conservation | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Politics and Social Change

 

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