Land Law and Collective Private Ownership in French-Speaking Countries of Western Africa; A study Based on the Example of Mali


Alhousseini Diabate
Docteur en droit privé
Enseignant-Chercheur à l’Université des
Sciences Juridiques et Politiques de Bamako au Mali


Collective private ownership was the most important form of land appropriation in French-speaking Western Africa. The encounter with colonial law shook this form of ownership, replacing it with individual private ownership. However, after many a vicissitude, collective private ownership is reborn from its ashes, particularly in Malian land law. Figures of collective ownership which colonial law wanted to erase from judicial memory are rehabilitated. Hence, customary land law are summoned more and more often to reinforce the land property based on customary land possession, and to bring back to life collective private ownership.

However, the picture is not as shiny as it may seem since, even today, numerous countries in French-speaking Western Africa are reluctant to give back to collective private ownership its former lustre. Yet, the recurrence of land property conflicts linked to a growing land property insecurity, one of the causes of which is precisely the misreading or low recognition of collective land property in rural communities, calls for a greater valorisation of collective private ownership.


Collective private ownership, land law, Mali, property law, West Africa             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893