Submitting InstitutionAnglia Ruskin University
Unit of AssessmentLaw
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Law and Legal Studies: Law
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
With national and international impact, Home's research on land titling
and Islamic land law has helped develop donor aid policy, through
UN-Habitat initiatives on post-disaster issues and Islamic land law, and
World Bank initiatives on the rule of law in Africa. Impacts of his
research within the UK include his contribution to the UK Government's
Foresight Land Use Futures Project (2010), and to current policy
discussions on future new housing provision. The case study title comes
from a well-known story illustrating the legally dubious origins of land
ownership in land-grabbing.
Home, Professor of Land Management, has worked at Anglia Ruskin
University from 2002 to the present, where he has developed research on
land ownership and titling in the UK and other countries (especially
Africa and the Middle East).
He was principal investigator for a research project (£220k) funded by
the UK Department for International Development (DfID) in 2001-2004. This
investigated Hernando de Soto's linkage of land titling and Third World
poverty reduction, through interviews with occupiers of informal
settlements in three country case studies (Botswana, Trinidad and Zambia).
The research found that the benefits of formal land titling programmes for
the poor in Third World countries were fewer than expected, and the costs
greater. The project outcomes were published in a book, Demystifying
the Mystery of Capital (2004, ref.1 below). This research resulted
in a consultancy on post-disaster land policy issues (2006-8, see section
4 below), and field research in South Africa and Kenya (contributing to
Home's REF2 outputs 1, 2 & 3). His research from archival and other
sources found that colonial land laws still significantly influence land
tenure and urban governance in African countries, inhibiting land law
Home's research on development land assembly and land ownership involved
both UK and transnational research on legal instruments for land assembly.
His article on UK land ownership (2009, ref.4 below), while recognizing
the fragmented and limited data available on land ownership, summarised
the broad changes in land ownership during the past century, and addressed
some critical emerging issues, such as environmental protection, risk
assessment, and housing land supply, identifying some future directions
for land ownership and the role of the state.
Comparative research on land readjustment as a tool for development site
assembly (ref.3 below) drew Home into the history of land titling in the
Middle East, and resulted in his 2007 Pakistan earthquake consultancy
discussed in section 4 below. The published outputs included a historical
study of colonial and postcolonial land law in Israel/Palestine' in Social
& Legal Studies journal. A joint article with PhD student
(Haitam Suleiman) (2010, ref.2 below) examines the large-scale transfer of
waqf (Islamic trust) land in Israel/Palestine to Jewish control
since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and places that
confiscation within a context of postcolonial legal pluralism. The role of
successive Absentee Property Laws in this confiscation was related to
Ottoman land tenure categories and the Ottoman Land Code, as modified
under the British League of Nations Mandate. The special legal status of waqf
in the Old City Jerusalem was discussed, and recent legal disputes over
the status of certain mosques and cemeteries examined.
As a result of his land titling research for DfID (above) Home was
invited to contribute a chapter for a collection on African land policy in
Southern Africa (2011, ref.5 below), linking the colonial legacy in land
rights to emerging African Union policy on land. He was then invited to
edit a volume (which later grew to two volumes) on African land law,
funded by the World Bank as part of a major project on the rule of law in
Africa. For this he assembled over twenty contributors from sub-Saharan
African countries, His own chapters in the two books examined the
difficulties in developing a `pro-poor' land law for Africa from a
postcolonial legal historical perspective, and the continuing influence of
colonial township rules upon urban governance.
References to the research
(all available from submitting HEI where no DOI is indicated)
1. Robert Home (2004) Demystifying the Mystery of Capital: Land
Titling and Peri-Urban Development in Africa and the Caribbean (book
edited with H.Lim), Cavendish.
Research quality: peer-reviewed collection of six contributions on
funded research project.
Content: findings of DFID-funded research project, with three
country case studies and three thematic overviews.
2. Robert Home and Haitam Suleiman (2010) `"God is an absentee, too": The
treatment of Waqf (Islamic trust) land in Israel/Palestine',
Journal of Legal Pluralism 59: 49-65.
Research quality: peer-reviewed academic journal. Content:
co-authored with PhD student, examined case law on confiscations of waqf
land and history of land titling reform in Israel/Palestine.
3. Robert Home (2007) `Land readjustment as a method of development land
assembly: A comparative overview',Town Planning Review 78(4):
Research quality: peer-reviewed academic journal published by
Content: cross-country comparisons of land readjustment law,
tracing its origins from the Frankfurt Lex Adicke and identifying
various situations where it can contribute to efficient land development.
4. Robert Home (2009) `Land Ownership in the UK: Trends, preferences and
future challenges' Land Use Policy (doi:
Research quality: peer-reviewed academic journal. Content:
based upon author's report to Government Foresight Land Use Futures
5. Robert Home (2011) `The colonial legacy in land rights', chapter in Land
Policy in the SADC region (ed B. Chigara). London, Routledge.
Research quality: collection of contributions both academic and
professional. Content: history of colonial land law and recent
land law reform.
6. Robert Home, ed (2012) Essays in African Land Law and Local
case studies in African Land Law, Pretoria University Law Press.
Research quality: Two book collections of academic and professional
contributions, all externally reviewed by established academics, published
and quality-controlled by Pretoria University, funded by World Bank. Content:
Essays on themes and case studies of land law in sub-Saharan Africa. As
well as assembling and editing these books, Home contributed a chapter to
each: `Towards a pro-poor land law in sub-Saharan Africa' and (joint with
Dr. L. Onyango) `Land law, governance and rapid urban growth in Kenya'.
Details of the impact
Home's DfID research on land titling and poverty reduction (published as
Demystifying the Mystery of Capital in 2004) has continued to
involve him in a range of impact activity in the current REF period. He
contributed to a UN-Habitat expert group meeting in Geneva (2009),
attended by about twenty representatives of international disaster relief
agencies, which led to the development of post-disaster guidance for aid
and relief agencies (2010). Home acted as a consultant in Pakistan in 2007
on land law issues following the 2005 earthquake. The impact of this
consultancy is reflected in his report, Post-Disaster Land Issues Case
Study: Pakistan Earthquake of October 2005 (joint with Nilofer
Afridi Qazi, 2008), which was also subsequently included in publications
of UN-Habitat and the Global Land Tools Network (GLTN): Guide to
Post-Conflict Land Issues (2009) and Land and Natural Disasters:
Guidance for Practitioners (joint UN-Habitat, GLTN, FAO) (2010).
Home's research on land readjustment, land titling in the Middle East,
and joint work with PhD student Haitam Suleiman resulted in an invitation
to present a paper on Islamic land law to an international professional
conference in Bergen (2008), organized by the International Federation of
Surveyors (FIG) and the UN Economic Commission for Europe, with 200
delegates. The conference theme was the legal empowerment of the poor,
following the international commission report on the same subject
sponsored by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Two subsequent consultancies
in Kenya (2009 and 2010) concerned land and planning implications of the
new constitution and land code, influencing subsequent Pan-African
Parliament initiatives on land grabbing in Africa.
His research on development land assembly and land ownership in the UK
led to an invitation by the Government Chief Scientific Officer to
contribute a specialist scientific report on UK land ownership for the
Foresight Land Use Futures Project (2008-2010). The final project report
was launched at an event held in the Royal Academy (London) in 2010, and
attended by some two hundred professionals, NGO representatives and
academics. His contribution (ref.4 above) was cited in the Building and
Social Housing Foundation study, More Homes and Better Places:
Solutions to address the scale of housing need (2011). This research
was cited in the books of Kevin Cahill, Who Owns Britain? and Who
Owns the World? Further, it has developed into international impact.
For instance, Home was invited in 2009 by the World Bank to participate in
a major project on the rule of law in Africa, (Grant TF 090558: Enhancing
Access to Legal Information, intended to strengthen public awareness and
rule of law materials) co-ordinated by the Institute of Human Rights in
Pretoria (South Africa). He assembled and edited two books of
contributions on African land law, with local case studies, as part of a
book series, copies of which were distributed widely to Universities and
land professionals and policy-makers in Africa. Opportunities for African
land law specialists to meet and discuss are few, so the author workshops
held in Kenya and London in 2010, which Home organized, provided such an
opportunity. The book series was launched in Pretoria in March 2012, an
event attended by about twenty representatives of government and
non-governmental organizations, including Chief Executive Officers of
banks involved in funding land and housing development, and government
officials concerned with land law reform and constitutional guarantees of
land rights. Home was subsequently invited to present a paper at a
symposium in 2013 sponsored by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, and is
currently an invited Scientific Committee member for a continuing project
on `Land Grabbing in Africa' sponsored by the Pan-African Parliament and
Sources to corroborate the impact
(1) `Post-Disaster Land Issues Case Study: Pakistan Earthquake of
October 2005', UN-Habitat report (2008, presented at Expert Group
Meeting, United Nations Geneva (2009).
(2) Guide to Post-Conflict Land Issues (2009), later revised into
the publication Land and Natural Disasters: Guidance for Practitioners
(2010). ISBN 978-92-1-1322361, available at http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2973.
(3) Robert Home, `Islamic land law and empowerment of the poor', paper to
international conference on Legal empowerment of the poor, Bergen,
organized by International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and UNECE Working
Party on Land Administration (WPLA). See http://www.fig.net/news/news_2008/bergen_april_2008.htm.
(4) Government Office for Science (2010) Foresight Land Use Futures
Project: Final Project Report (Crown Copyright URN 10/631). Home is
listed as contributor to evidence base. Project report was launched at the
Royal Academy (London) in February 2010. Available at
(5) Building & Social Housing Federation More Homes and Better
Places: Solutions to address the scale of housing need BHSF, London,
(2011), Home's research cited at footnote 135. Available at
(6) Launch of World Bank book series Rule of law in Africa, Pretoria 20
March 2012 http://www.chr.up.ac.za/index.php/centre-news-2012/955-pulp-launches-the-world-bank-rule-
(7) Representative of Thabo Mbeki Foundation (contact under corroboration
(8) Representative of Africa Land Grab (contact under corroboration).