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OAS Linkages to Land & Property Rights Issues


Land-related issues have been consistently included in OAS documents from the organizational Charter in 1948 through the Summit of the Americas’ declarations of the past decade. Specific themes such as access to credit, land tenure and regularization, land use, titling and registration have been highlighted through their inclusion in the Summit declarations and/or plans of action, proving that the strengthening of property rights throughout the Western Hemisphere is of paramount importance.


Below please find a summary of documents that demonstrate the consistent commitment of the OAS to property related issues, as well as the related article from the OAS Charter.


Charter of the OAS


Article 34: Modernization of rural life and reforms leading to equitable and efficient land-tenure systems, increased agricultural productivity, expanded use of land, diversification of production and improved processing and marketing systems for agricultural products; and the strengthening and expansion of the means to attain these ends.


1996 Santa Cruz Summit on Sustainable Development — Plan of Action


Initiative 16. As appropriate to the legal systems of each country, seek to address social issues related to land tenure and land use conflicts in countries where they exist and promote sustainable agriculture under the various forms of land tenure taking into account the interests of all stakeholders.

Initiative 22. Clarify, in accordance with the legal system of each country and as necessary, land tenure and property rights, including with respect to indigenous and other local community areas, and identify additional steps that may be needed to improve sustainable forest management under the various forms of land tenure, taking into account the interest of all stakeholders.


1998 Second Summit of the Americas in Santiago Chile — Plan of Action


Streamline and decentralize, as necessary, property registration procedures by: adopting transparent, simplified procedures for titling and registration; disseminating information regarding these procedures; utilizing, whenever feasible, state-of-the-art technologies for property georeferencing, computer-generated mapping and computerized records storage; incorporating alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; and avoiding overlapping administrative fees for titling and registration.

 Recommend that multilateral and bilateral cooperation institutions, especially the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank, strengthen their financial and technical assistance programs, including information exchange regarding experiences among countries, to support simplified property registration procedures and to assure access for the poor to those systems.

In accord with national legal frameworks, implement measures, where necessary, to protect rights accorded to indigenous populations, as well as information programs, if needed, to assure greater awareness of indigenous populations of their rights, in this respect.


2001 Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, Canada — Plan of Action


Governments will:

Continue and deepen progress toward implementation of the agenda for improving property registration established at the 1998 Santiago Summit of the Americas with particular emphasis on regularizing informal property rights, in accordance with national legislation, to ensure that all valid property rights are formally recognized, that disputes are resolved, and that modern legal frameworks to legitimize property records and encourage marketable property titles are adopted; and that these actions include the formulation of institutional, political and regulatory reforms that would facilitate the use of property registration as a mechanism to enable property owners to access credit and allow commercial banks and MDBs to expand their customer base among lower income sectors; promote greater cooperation and exchange of information and technology to modernize the systems of registry and cadastre in the Hemisphere, and also request multilateral and bilateral cooperation institutions to continue supporting and strengthening, in a complementary manner, their financial and technical assistance programs.

2004 Special Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico — Declaration of Nuevo Leon


We recognize that legally secure property rights are one of the essential elements for economic growth, since proof of ownership helps people to obtain loans and start businesses.

Therefore, we commit, where necessary and appropriate to: strengthen property rights and expand the use of property as collateral, ensuring enforceable, efficient, transparent, comprehensive, and equitable rules governing property contracts; and improve or promote the related measures governing the transfer of property, property registries,the use of property as collateral, and the rights and responsibilities of debtors and creditors.

With regard to these measures, we commit to undertake concrete actions prior to the next Summit of the Americas to be held in Argentina in 2005, and to report at that time on progress achieved.  We will seek to ensure that property rights benefit all people without discrimination.”


2005 Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina — Plan of Action National Commitment


To stimulate the design or strengthening of mechanisms or initiatives for access to credit by, among other measures, the fostering of the property registry and cadastre, in which legal certainty is expressed, among other means, through the verification of the title and the use of it, ensuring that the property rights benefit all people without discrimination.



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