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The Arab Land Initiative is pleased to release the new report Land, Housing and Property in Iraq: A review of the legal, institutional and administrative frameworks, aimed at expanding the knowledge of a wide range of Iraqi stakeholders on housing, land and property rights, as a basis for land sector reform and improved delivery to the people of Iraq.

Land in Iraq is traditionally organized into categories derived from sharia law: mulk – privately owned land; waqf or awaqf – endowment/charitable trust land; metrouke – publicly owned land; mawat – unused land; and miri – land that is State-owned but possessed by an individual. In addition to these, there are also communal lands commonly used by village members for activities such as livestock grazing and firewood collection.

Large-scale protracted armed conflicts, economic priorities, population displacement, urbanization and government interventions in the control over agricultural production have all had significant influence over how land is used in Iraq. The Government of Iraq is currently undertaking a number of initiatives to address these and other factors impacting land use, such as environmental degradation and climate change. 

There are three broad types of land-related conflicts in Iraq: conflicts associated with the three contemporary periods of large-scale displacement (Baathist, coalition forces and ISIS); the overlap and confusion between land rights for individuals and rights claimed by groups involving ethnic territoriality; and conflicts stemming from weak State presence and capacity in large areas of the country, which has resulted in tribal, Islamic, militia and hybrid forms of managing land rights to fill the vacuum. While the legal and judicial system aims to resolve all types of land disputes as well as compensation, alternative land-disputes resolution mechanisms in Iraq are not well-developed.

Land, Housing, and Property in Iraq: A review of the legal, institutional, and administrative frameworks lays out an analysis of the policies, laws, regulations, practices, trends and challenges pertinent to the key functions of land administration in Iraq, namely land tenure, land value, land use, land development and land disputes resolution. The report also offers a set of preliminary recommendations for consideration by national stakeholders.