Post-conflict land disputes can seriously disrupt efforts by displaced people to return home. This article examines the different public authorities at play in securing or challenging someone’s right to use or own land in South Sudan. Such cases are often complicated by changes in local positions of power, such as new chiefs, who would typically be responsible for adjudicating on land allocation.

The author argues that government intervention is necessary to institute formal legal processes for local public authorities to resolve land disputes and avoid conflict between displaced people and new residents who have informally occupied land (‘thaken achuai’).