Informal land markets and poverty alleviation strategies

As I mentioned before this week we will have a paper by Colin Marx on the relationship between informal land markets and poverty alleviation strategies in South Africa.  Here is the abstract:

The prevalence of informal land markets in cities in developing countries has sparked interest in how these markets might be harnessed to poverty alleviation initiatives. However, this paper suggests that poverty alleviation initiatives that are based on a ‘default’ formal land market view are unlikely to be successful for poor households. Drawing on research on informal land markets in South African cities, the paper points toward a need to rethink land markets if they are to be harnessed to attempts to alleviate poverty. The research evidence suggests that, contrary to views which suggest that informal land markets are based on the absence of the state, the state is very much present and contributes to the dynamism and differentiation of informal land markets.


I hope you find it interesting.


Carlos Herrera


Responsabilidad patrimonial del estado en temas urbanos or Regulatory takings in Argentina

Responsabilidad patrimonial del estado en temas urbanos

¿Cuál es el grado de protección del derecho de propiedad ante el accionar lícito del Estado en Argentina? Éste al limitar la edificación en la ciudad, ya sea estableciendo alturas, capacidad edificatoria, retiros obligatorios, áreas no edificables ¿debe responder con su patrimonio? y ¿qué ocurre en el caso, que para realizar obras públicas, sea necesario adquirir suelo, y luego de afectar tierras, se frustre la expropiación? ¿Debe también responder por los daños que ocasione?

Estas son algunas de las preguntas que el presente estudio pretende responder. No sólo interesa saber si el Estado debe responder por las consecuencias del  ejercicio de su competencia urbanística, sino también indagar, si detrás de las respuestas que dan los jueces en Argentina, subyace una noción fuerte o débil de la propiedad.


Regulatory takings in Argentina

How strong are property rights in Argentina in the face of urban regulation? Does the government have the obligation to compensate for regulations that limit property rights?  Does the Argentinean legal system recognize regulatory takings?

These are some of the questions that this paper tries to address. In order to do this we have analyzed judicial rulings on the obligation of the government to compensate for the limitation of property rights due to urban regulations. We are trying to understand how the judiciary has decided on these issues. We expect that by analyzing the content of the judicial rulings we will be able to discern if the Judiciary has a strong or a weak concept of property rights. 

This paper is in Spanish but if you are interested in knowing more about this topic you can contact the author directly.


New blog

Dear IRGLUS Members

In the 2008 RCSL meeting in Milan we organized three sessions which focused on:

1.       Property, urban space and social vulnerability

2.       Urban space and social conflict

3.       Urban space and the legal system

The topics discussed highlight the variety of interests among IRGLUS members. We are trying to widen as much as possible the participation in order to be able to fulfill our group’s principal purpose  to foster discussion between academics from diverse backgrounds – jurists, geographers, sociologists, political scientists, urban planners, environmentalists-. Our aim is to include anyone who is currently doing research or is just interested in the relationship between law and urban space.

In order to achieve this we have decided to start a new blog with more capacity. We hope that apart from posting and giving news and information we will be able to start posting a series of working papers and comment on them. We have an open language policy so we invite you to contact us if you are interested in sending a paper.  

In what we hope is just the beginning of this new series of working papers we have Melinda Maldonado and Colin Marx.  We are starting with Melinda’s paper on the Argentinean government´s obligation to compensate as a result of the effects of urban regulations on property rights. Next week we will post Colin´s paper on the relationship between informal land markets and poverty alleviation strategies in South Africa.

Finally we invite you to send images that you consider may reflect in a way something about the relationship between law and the city or just pictures that you consider interesting for our blog.                                        

Best wishes

Antonio Azuela

Carlos Herrera


IRGLUS meeting at Milan

Dear Friends

We are writing to invite you to participate in the Annual meeting of the Research Committee of Sociology of Law (RCSL) of the International Sociological Association (ISA) to be held in Milano, Italy, in July 9-12 2008 where IRGLUS will have one or various sessions depending on the number of participants. As a subject for discussion we propose the following topic:

Urban territories and the law and development agenda: interconnections of two international debates.

In the contemporary global scene, there are two debates that have been kept apart. On the one hand, legal systems attract the attention of international development organizations (such as the WB and the IMF); a wide bibliography has been produced around the “law and development” question. On the other hand, urban development has been the object of international debates; amongst others, the Goals of the Millennium, in the context of the UN system, entail a number of initiatives to transform the institutions related to urban areas.
The consequences of both debates relate directly to the meaning of legal issues in urban life; however, there seems to be a lack of dialogue between them, probably due to the (institutional and ideological) logic that governs each of them. The law and development agenda is a de-spatialized legal discussion, whereas the urban development agenda sees the law as a mere policy “instrument”.
The panel on “Urban territories and the law and development agenda: interconnections of two international debates.” is an invitation to socio-legal scholars to discuss the interrelations between international debates on urban development, on the one hand, and law and development, on the other. The main issues to be addressed include:

– Expropriation and urban development
– Gender and property rights
– Social conflicts over infrastructure privatization and sustainable development
– Indigenous rights, territory and the nation-state
– Federalism and the public interest in urban conflicts
– The role of international organizations in shaping urban law

As always new proposals for specific panels are welcomed.

The last date to submit abstract (not more than 200 words) is 15th February, 2008. If you are planning to participate, contact us and we will give you more information on registration fees and other administrative details.

Best regards

Antonio Azuela
Carlos Herrera

Convocatoria Para Proyectos de Investigación en América Latina y el Caribe

Para aquellos que estén interesados esta es la nueva convocatoria del Lincoln Institute of Land Policy para realizar proyectos de investigación durante el 2008.

For those of you that are interested this is a new request for proposal from the Lincoln Instute of Land Policy to conduct research on the following topics during 2008. The terms of reference are in english

Estimados colegas,

Nos complace comunicarles que el Programa para América Latina y el Caribe del Lincoln Institute of Land Policy anuncia su convocatoria anual para recibir propuestas de investigación con plazo de su ejecución/desarrollo hasta enero de 2009. La fecha límite para presentación de propuestas es 5 de septiembre de 2007.

Los términos de referencia (formulados en ingles) que corresponden a cada uno de los cinco temas se encuentran en la página Web del Instituto en el siguiente link:

1. Funcionamiento de los Mercados Urbanos de Suelo en Latino América
Functioning of Urban Land Markets in Latin America
Deadline for Proposals: September 5, 2007

2. Movilización de Plusvalías para el Desarrollo Urbano en América Latina
Land Value Increments for Urban Development
Deadline for Proposals: September 5, 2007

3. Impuesto Predial en América Latina
Property Taxation in Latin America
Deadline for Proposals: September 5, 2007

4. Regulación Pública en el Proceso de Urbanización de América Latina
Public Regulations in the Process of Urbanization in Latin America
Deadline for Proposals: September 5, 2007

5. Regularización, Mercados de Suelo e Informalidad en América Latina
Regularization, Land Markets and Informality in Latin America
Deadline for Proposals: September 5, 2007

Si tiene usted alguna pregunta, por favor contáctenos:

First Session in Berlin

This is the list of the people that will be presenting their work in our first meeting in Berlin along with a small abstract of their work. This meeting will be held on July 24 from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM in room S 1.301 of the Seminar Building at Humboldt University and will be jointly organized with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. The panelists are:

Acosta, Claudia Marcela Mora


Country Club: ¿Cambio en las percepciones del dominio eminente?


A symbolic case. The process and way of acquisition Country Club’s polo court – one of the most exclusively club in Colombia- to be turned at a public park on a Bogotá’s zone whit a grate shortage of green areas, it’s suggested as ideal set to analyze the change of government’s point o view about its own ability to organize and acquire land whit social interest, the difference between public and private topics about the land valuation, its debate on district courts and, its importance for the viability of urban development projects.

Farias, Marcia Ferreira Cunha


Corumba IV: Acquisition, expropriation and compensation of land for the construction of hydroelectric power plants in Brazil


Procurement of land for infrastructure projects is still problematic in Brazil . The legal framework regarding procurement of land for such projects is reasonably established, but numerous difficulties arise. Institutional intervention may be a primary concern. As different institutions claim to exercise their competencies, acquisition, expropriation and resettlement procedures may become overwhelming. The present research paper will demonstrate the legal and practical obstacles and solutions revealed in the procurement of land for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in central Brazil, Corumbá IV, highlighting how and when institutional interventions contribute to these obstacles and to their solutions.

Haddad, Emilio


The positioning of the Judiciary Power in a context of new agreements on the real estate valuation: the case of Paulo


It is presented a case study of city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, where local Judiciary Power is developing new approaches to improve land expropriation mechanisms, by which the assessed value of land is deposited in the beginning of the process, intending to prevent that moratorium interests resulting from the delay of the action could raise the values to be paid for the public power, due to. The objective of the present research is to study to what extent this new practice contributes for the accomplishment of fiscal justice, recovery of plus-values and application of the social function of the property.

Herrera, Carlos M.


Legal and judicial framework of eminent domain in Mexico


This research project will try to find out how eminent domain for urban purposes has evolved in Mexico in the last eighty years from the judicial standpoint and it will review some of the most controversial cases from a legal and sociological point of view. This project will help us have a clear picture about the position of the judiciary in Mexico regarding eminent domain and more importantly, it will help us understand how has the concept of property rights evolved in the Mexican legal system in the last eighty years.

Jaramillo, Lorena Angélica Ulloa


Impact of the expropriation process on the urban area of Metro Concepcion


This study is framed on the expropriations performed on the base of public needs that were derived from the work needed by the integrated commuting system for the Concepción metro area. It aims to know the perceptions of the expropriated people regarding compensations, appraisal methods, perceived weaknesses and legal instruments used on the process. This subjective evaluation will help to understand the obstacles perceived by them to an equal appraisal and regulation of urban lands, and also will extend the comprehension of the Chilean expropriation process from the perspectives of social theory, community work experience and public administration.

Conference on Land Tenure

Here is an invitation for a conference on land tenure that will be held in the Netherlands during September. You may find it interesting.