English French Spanish

Guatemala : Indicators

2012 > 20 Key Indicators 2012 > National Land Tenure Policy

Guatemala has a National Policy for Integrated Rural Development (2009) and an Agrarian Policy (2009), designed to democratise and guarantee the legal certainty of land tenure and ownership in Guatemala. Meanwhile, there is a series of legal instruments which guarantees rights over territories and (communal) lands, such as the Political Constitution of the Republic, the Peace Accords and International Labor Organization agreement 169.

Guatemala is characterised by a high concentration of land in just a few hands. According to a UN report, 77% of small landowners have fewer than 7 hectares per person and work on just 15% of the productive land (1). The national forest inventory 2002-2003 estimates that ownership of forests in Guatemala was: 34% nationally owned, 8% municipally owned, 38% private ownership, 15% communal ownership, and 5% undetermined (2). There are no more up-to-date figures on land ownership for forests in Guatemala.

The Agrarian Policy “refers to the transformation of land ownership and tenure, promoting its democratisation and discouraging consolidation.” It contains an analysis of the effect of consolidation of land tenure on poverty levels. One of the objectives of the National Integrated Rural Development Policy is to “Reform and democratise the system of access, use, tenure and ownership of land, discouraging its consolidation, in such a way that the subject prioritised by this Policy has access to land”. These two Policies are only in force in the short term (2009-2012 and 2009-2015 respectively).

Despite the principles of the policies, in recent years commercial pressures and capital investment have had an effect on the land and natural resources, affecting the rights of community groups, serving only to generate new waves of land hoarding and thereby deepening inequalities.

There is a national movement of peasant/indigenous organisations, called the Association for Integrated Rural Development (ADRI), which created a bill called “Law 40-84 on the National System of Integrated Rural Development”, the intention of which is to democratise and redistribute land tenure. This law was brought to the attention of Congress on 11 August 2009 and was transferred to the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Commission, which gave a favourable opinion. However, the Congress agenda to discuss the law never materialised, and is currently on hold. The ADRI believes that this bill answers a need to ensure long-term development which goes beyond the existing policies on land tenure, but some members of Congress see it as a threat to private ownership.

(1) Krznaric, Roman (2005) The Limits of Pro-Poor Agricultural Trade in Guatemala: Land, Labour and Political Power. UNDP Human Development Report 2005/17. Available at: (http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2005/papers/HDR2005_Krznaric_Roman_17.pdf)
2. INAB-FAO (2004). National Forest Inventory 2002-2003. Project Evaluation of forest resources. Working Document No. 92. Available at: http://www.infoiarna.org.gt/media/file/areas/bosque/documentos/nac/IFN_Guatemala_FAO-INAB.pdf

Title a. Political Constitution of Guatemala
b. Agrarian Policy 2009-2012 and
c. National Policy for Integrated Rural Development, Government Agreement No. 169-2009
Organisation a. Congress of the Republic
b. Secretariat of Agricultural Affairs (http://portal.saa.gob.gt/)
Date a. Political Constitution 1985
b. Agrarian Policy 2009.
c. National Policy for Integrated Rural Development 2009
Source a. http://www.congreso.gob.gt/manager/images/1188FE6B-B453-3B8C-0D00-549DA12F72CB.pdf
b. http://portal.saa.gob.gt/images/stories/DocsPage/Politica%20Agraria.pdf
Next Previous
Hosted by
Global Witness DAR CIKOD CED SDI Grupo Faro Ut'z Che RRN
All country specific pages on the website are independently managed by the relevant organisation from that country. Disclaimer