Najmu Laila Sopian

Full Text: PDF



The issue of law enforcement is central to land property rights. Modes of property rights enforcement can be performed either with or without intervention of the state. This article focuses on the latter mode of enforcement; that is, how people manage to enforce their land rights without the involvement of state institutions and to what extent informal arrangements can offer effective enforcement and secure land property rights. This article also contributes to the debate on how formal and informal institutions can be used to secure property rights and resolve disputes over land ownership. In particular, this paper examines how the people of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara Province, settle land disputes among themselves. Many available studies indicate that the residents of Flores rely heavily on informal land dispute resolution based on adat (customary) law rather than formal or legal rules. Adat provides certain sense of security and has been proven effective in resolving conflicts in a relatively closed and homogeneous community. Moreover, it offers greater accessibility, flexibility and legitimacy that support reconciliation process between the disputing parties.


informal dispute resolution; adat law; flores; informal institutions


Asia Foundation. Citizens’ Perceptions of the Indonesian Justice Sector. Jakarta: Asia Foundation, 2001.

Bowen, John R. Islam, Law, and Equality in Indonesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Davidson, Jamie S. and David Henley. Eds. The Revival of Tradition in Indonesian Politics: The Deployment of Adat from Colonialism to Indigenism. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Ellickson, Robert. Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Favali, Lyda and Roy Pateman. Blood, Land, and Sex: Legal and Political Pluralism in Eritrea. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

Haber, Stephen, Armando Razo, and Noel Maurer. The Politics of Property Rights: Political Instability, Credible Commitments and Economic Growth in Mexico. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Helmke, Gretchen and Steven Levitsky. Eds. Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America. Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 2006.

Hooker, M. B. Adat Law in Modern Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Jütting, Johannes, Denis Drechsler, Sebastian Bartsch, and Indra de Soysa. Eds. “Informal Institutions: How Social Norms Help or Hinder Development.” (OECD, 2007). Accessed on 5 March 2014.

Lindsey, Tim. Indonesia, Law and Society. 2nd ed. New South Wales: The Federation Press, 2008.

Lucas, Anton and Carol Warren. Eds. Land for the People: The State and Agrarian Conflict in Indonesia. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013.

Maclean, Lauren M. Informal Institutions and Citizenship in Rural Africa: Risk and Reciprocity in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

North, Douglass C. Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Ostrom, Elinor. Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Pompe, Sebastiaan. The Indonesian Supreme Court: A Study of Institutional Collapse. Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publication, 2005.

Reerink, Gustaaf. Tenure Security for Indonesia’s Urban Poor: A Socio-Legal Study on Land, Decentralisation, and the Rule of Law in Bandung. Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2011.

World Bank. Justice for the Poor: Forging the Middle Ground: Engaging Non-State Justice in Indonesia [Menemukan Titik Keseimbangan: Mempertimbangkan Keadilan Non-Negara di Indonesia]. Jakarta: World Bank, 2009.

World Bank. World Development Report 2006: Equality and Development. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Afrizal. “Oil Palm Plantations, Customary Rights, and Local Protest: A West Sumatran Case Study.” In Land for the People: The State and Agrarian Conflict in Indonesia. Edited by Anton Lucas and Carol Warren. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013.

Bedner, Adriaan and Stijn van Huis. “The Return of the Native in Indonesian Law: Indigenous Communities in Indonesian Legislation.” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde Vol. 164 No. 2/3 (2008): 165-193.

Bhodo, Agustinus Esra. “Land Dispute Resolution through Mediation in the Ngada Regency by Land Agency for Furthering Legal Utilities” [“Penyelesaian Sengketa Tanah Woe Melalui Mediasi di Kabupaten Ngada oleh Kantor Pertanahan untuk Mewujudkan Kemanfaatan Hukum”]. Master Thesis, Master of Laws Program, University of Atma Jaya Yogyakarta, 2013.

Brule’, Rachel. “Land Rights without Laws: Understanding Property Rights Institutions, Growth, and Development in Rural India.” CDDRL Working Papers, Number 98 February 2009, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University. Accessed on 5 March 2014.

Clark, Samuel (ed.). More than Just Ownership: Ten Land and Natural Resource Conflict Case Studies from East Java and Flores. Conflict and Community Development Research and Analytical Program, Indonesian Social Development Paper No. 4. The World Bank, 2004.

Coase, Ronald H. “The Problem of Social Cost,” The Journal of Law & Economics 3 (1960).

Dinnen, Sinclair. “‘Traditional’ Justice Systems in the Pacific, Indonesia and Timor-Leste.” Presented at the 2009 Justice for Children in the Pacific, Indonesia and Timor-Leste, EAPRO Sub-Regional Workshop, April 2009. Accessed on 1 March 2014.

Golub, Stephe. “Beyond Rule of Law Orthodoxy: the Legal Empowerment Alternative,” Working Paper No. 14. Washington DC, 2003.

McMillan, John and Christopher Woodruff. “Private Order under Dysfunctional Public Order.” Michigan Law Review 98 (1999): 2421-2458.

Meinzen-Dick, Ruth S. and Rajendra Pradhan. “Legal Pluralism and Dynamic Property Rights.” Capri Working Paper No. 22, CGIAR Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights, January 2002. Accessed on 10 March 2014.

Muga, Maria D. “The Role of the Chief of Adat in Land Conflict Resolution through Mediation: Case Study Ulayat Land Case at the District of SOA, Ngada, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara” [“Peranan Kepala Adat dalam Penyelesaian Sengketa Tanah Ulayat Melalui Mediasi: Studi Analisa Terhadap Penyelesaian Sengketa Tanah, Tanah Ulayat di Kecamatan SOA Kabupaten Ngada, Flores, Propinsi Nusa Tenggara Timur”]. Thesis at the Magister Program of Notary, University of Diponegoro, Semarang, 2008.

North, Douglass C. “Institutions and Credible Commitment.” Accessed on 24 February 2014.

Parlevliet, Jante. “In Focus: Defining (Informal) Institutions.” In Informal Institutions: How Social Norms Help or Hinder Development. Edited by Johannes Jütting, Denis Drechsler, Sebastian Bartsch, and Indra de Soysa. OECD, 2007. Accessed on 5 March 2014.

Prioharyono, J. Emmed M. “The Mosalaki’s Political Power and Adat in Nggela and Tenda Villages, the Ende Regency, Flores” [“Kekuasaan Politik dan Adat Para Mosalaki di Desa Nggela dan Tenda, Kabupaten Ende, Flores”] Antropologi Indonesia (Indonesian Journal on Social and Cultural Anthropology) Vol. 33 No. 3 (September – December 2012).

Sellers, Kathryn Firmin A. “The Politics of Property Rights.” American Political Science Review Vol. 89 No. 4 (December 1995): 867-881.

Tamanaha, Brian Z. “The Rule of Law and Legal Pluralism in Development.” Pluralism in Development, Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Paper No. 11-07-01, July 2011. Accessed on 5 March 2014.

The Statistics of Ngada Regency, Ngada in Figures 2009 (Ngada dalam Angka 2009).

The World Bank Social Development Unit of Indonesia. “Village Justice in Indonesia: Case Studies on Access to Justice, Village democracy, and Governance.” A report from Justice for the Poor Team, The World Bank Social Development Unit of Indonesia, February 2004. Accessed on 1 March 2014.

The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. “A Diverse National” Accessed on 15 March 2014.

ISSN: 2356-2129