FAO and UINL launch a technical guide to enhance responsible governance of tenure in the preventive administration of justice

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FAO and UINL launch a technical guide to enhance responsible governance of tenure in the preventive administration of justice


Munich, 27 may 2022 – Today was held the first face-to-face UINL General Council of the 2020-2022 mandate and it is with a warm welcome of the entire assembly that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) and UINL presented their newly released technical guide, numbered 13 of the collection of FAO Governance of Tenure Technical Guides. 

The latter are part of FAO’s initiative to help develop capacities to improve tenure governance and thereby assist countries in applying the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT). 

The VGGT were endorsed by UN Members states in 2012 and celebrate their 10th Anniversary. They consist in a set of principles and internationally accepted standards for responsible practices in relation to tenure. They constitute an unprecedented consensus on principles, recommendations and good practices for improving governance of tenure. They provide guidance on how to recognize, protect and support legitimate tenure rights and their holders, including extra-legal or informal individual and collective tenure rights, as well as those arising under customary and indigenous governance systems.

FAO Governance of Tenure Technical Guides on their hand translate principles of the VGGT into practical mechanisms, processes and actions; give examples of good practice – what has worked, where, why and how and provide useful tools for activities such as the design of investment projects and reform processes. 

While all FAO Governance of Tenure Technical Guides are prepared by technical specialists and can be used by a range of actors, this is the first time an international professional organization such as UINL is co-publishing a technical guide with FAO.

Technical guide n°13, entitled “Responsible governance of tenure and preventive justice - A guide for notaries and other practitioners in the preventive administration of justice” illustrates that the preventive administration of justice and notaries, as independent and impartial public legal officers, can play a key role in achieving the VGGT recommendations worldwide. 

By exercising their function responsibly and implementing best practices, practitioners in the preventive administration of justice can make a considerable contribution to improving the living conditions of citizens worldwide, to achieving sustainable livelihoods, housing security, rural development and environmental protection for the benefit of all citizens. 

The guide advocates for responsible governance of tenure through the use of the VGGT. It identifies challenges and showcases good practices. On one hand, preventive justice is analyzed to assess its contribution to the responsible governance of tenure; on the other hand, VGGT are used as an inspiration for the practice of preventive justice. All stakeholders are finally invited to cooperate and engage in advocacy.

This new material is intended to be of use to Civil Law notaries but also registration officers and other practitioners acting in the field of preventive justice such as judges, corporate in-house lawyers and attorneys – particularly when they are dealing with aspects of preventive justice and working with notaries and registration officers. It also shows how the VGGT and best practices based on the UINL experience can be used by public authorities and legislators in order to establish new or improve existing elements of preventive justice in their own legal system.

Already available in English, the guide will soon be made available in French and Spanish. 

During the official launch, UINL General Councilors listened a presentation led by Vice-President for Europe, Lionel GALLIEZ, where he reminded the long-term partnership that FAO and UINL has had, starting by the sharing of expertise during the preparation of the VGGT themselves, continuing with conferences and workshops worldwide on topics related to land tenure security and gender equality and culminating with the preparation of Technical Guide n°13. 

German notary Lovro Tomasic, who co-drafted the guide together with Bianca Wengenmayer and Elodie Letouche, gave some insights about the initial project that led to the drafting of technical Guide n°13. “ACHIEVING SDG INDICATOR 5.A.2 IN THE WESTERN BALKANS: THE ROLE OF NOTARIES” was the product of the very successful cooperation between UINL, FAO and the German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ). It intended to bridge the gap between the law (legal frameworks have made great advances to eliminate gender-based discrimination in the law and provided legal safeguards for women’s property rights during marriage, cohabitation and inheritance) and the practice (in many rural areas, properties are still overwhelmingly registered in the sole name of the husband, partner or brother.)
Notaries in this regard were identified as the most effective agents of change. Therefore, FAO and GIZ with the technical collaboration of UINL published in 2018 the “Guidelines on strengthening gender equality in notarial practices - South-East Europe" to illustrate how the UINL’s Principles of Notarial Ethics can proactively help strengthen in practice the rights of spouses, female surviving partners and heirs. Those guidelines have since been implemented in six jurisdictions in the region within the scope of the GIZ/FAO/UINL project “Strengthening the Economic Empowerment of Women” which ended in 2021. 

The success of this very practical tool for notaries lead to the drafting of a broader technical guide on how to practically use the VGGT abstract concepts in the field of preventive justice: Technical Guide n°13 translates the VGGT into key recommendations for the improvement of tenure governance in the daily work of practitioners of preventive justice, especially notaries. 

The outlines of Technical Guide n°13 were presented live to all councillors who were able to experience the way to use the guide through a practical example regarding the digitalization of services in the preventive administration of justice: identifying opportunities and challenges, learning lessons from experience, implementing locally adapted solutions and sharing information widely, etc. 
All chapter of the Guide ends with a set of key recommendations that each Notariat and notary can apprehend immediately. 

To sum it all up, technical guide n°13 is intended to motivate all those involved in the preventive administration of justice including notaries to focus on the core elements of equitable and responsible tenure as they are highlighted in the VGGT. It brings the message that practitioners in preventive justice in tenure law, most notably notaries, can and should use the ideas, values and concepts laid out in the VGGT to improve the quality of tenure governance. 

FAO and UINL. 2022. Responsible governance of tenure and preventive justice - A guide for notaries and other practitioners in the preventive administration of justice. Governance of Tenure Technical Guide No. 13. Rome.