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Scott Leckie is the Founder and Director of Displacement Solutions. He is an international human rights lawyer, academic, author, social entrepreneur, environmentalist and recognized as one of the world’s leading global housing, land and property (HLP) rights experts. He is the world’s most widely published author on HLP themes, having written more than 200 books, articles and substantive reports on these issues. At the age of 25, he was already being described by leading human rights scholars as an international human rights pioneer.


Over his almost 30-year human rights career, he has carried out human rights work in more than 80 countries in all of the world’s continents with the exception of Antarctica. His interventions have helped to protect hundreds of thousands of people against planned forced evictions in popular communities in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Zambia and elsewhere, restore the HLP restitution rights to tens of thousands of refugees and IDPs in Kosovo, Georgia, Timor Leste, Albania and beyond, led to the recognition of the HLP rights of communities threatened with displacement due to climate change, and assisted in the fundamentally reshaping and significant strengthening of the body of HLP rights under international human rights law. He is also recognized internationally as one of the leading global experts in the field of economic and social rights, and is known globally for his work in establishing new human rights organisations and restitution institutions, as well as his ground-breaking work on substantive issues such as housing and land rights, climate change and displacement, forced evictions, housing, land and property restitution rights for refugees and displaced persons, human rights issues in post-conflict and post-disaster situations, the idea of a global property registry administered by the United Nations and business and human rights.


He conceived of the term and the practice of ‘HLP Rights’ in 2002, which is now recognised as a term of art throughout the UN and the international humanitarian community. With nearly three decades of practical human rights work and innovative problem-solving experiences, he is regularly requested to provide advice to United Nations agencies, Governments, NGOs and grassroots groups.


2006 - 2023

Scott Leckie has been particularly active in the area of human rights policy and institutional design efforts; work which is guided by the belief that innovation and creativity are often the missing links in global human rights initiatives. Some of the highlights of the past 20 years, include:

In 2022 - 2023, Scott co-ordinated a series of projects on the Peninsula Principles on climate change within States.

In 2021, he coordinated major projects on developing the concept of Climate Displacement Havens as a tool for resolving climate displacement, as well as a feasibility study on the establishment of a new World Restitution Agency. He wrote his memoirs in 2021, and these will be published in soon.


In 2020, he wrote a lengthy report on climate change case law based on research on jurisprudence around the world.


In 2019, he wrote a comprehensive legal analysis of land grabbing in Myanmar and worked with UNDP Uzbekistan on a report concerning a new Housing Code there.


In 2018, he led a project in Nepal examining the response to housing damage caused by the 2015 earthquakes, as well as another project in Myanmar in 2018 advocating for the establishment of a National Climate Land Bank. He advised the Asian Development Bank on various HLP legal matters in Myanmar, as well as advising the UN on peace efforts in Syria. Also, in 2018, Scott co-founded the Podcast Jointly Venturing which explores issues linked to world citizenship and related themes.

In 2017 he worked in Myanmar on various initiatives designed to result in the establishment of a new restitution law and mechanism to enable refugees and IDPs to reclaim their former homes and lands. He also advised the UN on various aspects of the peace process in Syria, focusing in particular on restitution and related HLP rights issues currently under negotiation, and managed the completion of the first construction phase of new homes for climate displaced families in Bangladesh.

In 2016, he advised the UK Government and the Norwegian Refugee Council on programming on land and peace in Myanmar, and also designed plans to develop a Climate Land Bank in Myanmar. In the same year, he established the One House, One Family at a Time project in Bangladesh which accesses international funding to build homes for climate displaced families.


In 2015, Scott and Displacement Solutions were awarded one of the prestigious UN Sasakawa Awards in recognition of work in support of climate-displaced communities. His book, which he co-edited with Prof. Chris Huggins, Repairing Domestic Climate Displacement: The Peninsula Principleswas published by Routledge in mid-2015. In addition, he worked on the issue of land acquisition law in Myanmar, providing detailed advice to the International Finance Corporation in the country. 

In 2014, his book Land Solutions for Climate Displacementwas published by Routledge based on fieldwork with climate affected communities in Bangladesh, Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. This work resulted in the first-ever global calculation of the amount of land required to provide new housing and land to people and communities displaced by climate change (12.5-50 million acres globally). Together with internationally-renowned photojournalist Kadir van Lohuizen he backed the development of the Where Will We GoExhibition which documents climate displacement through photographs and films around the world.

In 2013, he completed work on a range of publications focusing on the acquisition of land for climate displaced persons and communities, including a widely heralded report entitled Finding Land Solutions to Climate Displacement: A Challenge Like Few Others. Also in 2013, he coordinated activities leading to the eventual adoption in August of the world's first comprehensive normative framework on the rights of climate displaced persons and communities, The Peninsula Principles on Climate Displacement Within States. 

In 2012, he worked extensively on various housing land and property rights themes in Myanmar, in conjunction with the political reform process underway there, and published several groundbreaking reports on HLP themes. 

In 2011, he instigated the Bangladesh HLP Initiative which, in its first full year of operation, acquired 10,000 acres of land to provide new land-based solutions to families and communities displaced in Bangladesh because of climate change. In 2011, together with two colleagues, he edited The Climate Displacement Reader, published by Routledge/Earthscan. In the same year, he taught the world’s first law school course on climate change and displacement at the Australian National University, as well as providing HLP training to communities and government officials in Bangladesh and Kiribati.

In 2010, he helped to establish the Bhutanese Refugee Restitution Organisation (BRRO) which will seek restitution and compensation for Bhutan’s 110,000 refugees. During 2010, he completed, with a co-author, the book Housing, Land and Property Rights and Conflict, which was published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press. He also designed an intensive training programme on housing, land and property rights for communities affected by climate-induced displacement, and led a fact-finding mission to Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu to examine the displacement consequences of climate change.

In 2009, Mr. Leckie compiled for the first time, the entire legal code of Burma as it relates to housing, land and property rights which resulted in the 1245 page book, jointly authored by Zeke Simperingham, entitled Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: The Current Legal Code. In the same year, he completed the first practical handbook of its kind designed to assist persons displaced due to climate change to access new homes and lands. Also in 2009, he designed and established the Climate Change Land Fund, a fund developed to finance the purchase of new land for those displaced by climate change.

In 2008, he has devoted most of his time to exploring the links between climate change and displacement, focusing in particular on the issues as they affect the Maldives, Papua New Guinea and various Pacific Island nations. In 2007, he established Displacement Solutions and continued to work on a diverse range of issues relating to the resolution of ongoing displacement throughout the world. This included the primary authorship of the DS report Housing Timor and a variety of speeches and lectures addressing various displacement themes including the rights of Palestinian refugees and the need to address in greater detail, the rights of climate displaced persons to new and viable HLP options once forced to flee their homes due to climate change. In 2006, he developed the Burma HLP Initiative and the Bougainville HLP Initiative, both of which are designed to promote greater attention to HLP rights in these conflict-ridden countries.  


1998 - 2005

In early 2005, he worked in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Thailand on land restitution issues in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. In the same year, a process he initiated in 2002 culminated in the adoption by a UN body of the Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons (‘Pinheiro Principles’) which provided the first international normative framework specifically dedicated to these issues.

In 2004, at the request of the United Nations, he prepared a draft UN Policy on Housing, Land and Property Rights in Post-Conflict Settings. 

In 2003, Mr Leckie worked with a Supreme Court Justice in Sri Lanka, on behalf of UNHCR, to prepare the institutional design and normative framework required to enable the exercise of the right to land, housing and property restitution for returning refugees and IDPs in Sri Lanka. The proposed Sri Lankan Land Commission was subsequently presented to the parties during the initial phases of the Norwegian-led peace process. Also in 2003, at the request of the UN Mission in Iraq, headed by Sergio Vierra d’Mello, he designed the Iraqi Housing, Land and Property Directorate, which was under discussion at the time of the tragic bombing of UN Headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003. 

In 2002, with the support of the OSCE and the World Bank, he developed a legal reform plan in Albania to facilitate the restitution of properties illegally seized during the period of dictatorship and provided legal analysis of the draft Law on Return and Compensation for Property of Former Owners. Also in 2002, he assisted the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit in developing positions on the question of restitution and prepared a detailed report entitled Survey of Housing, Land and Property Restitution: Precedents for Palestinian Refugees. 

In 2001, at the request of the Social Investment Division of British Petroleum (BP), he prepared a draft Policy on Population Displacement and Involuntary Resettlement, the first such policy ever considered by a transnational corporation. 

In 2000, he designed the institutional and legal framework for an East Timor Housing and Land Commission, on behalf of the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET).

In 1999, he conceived and designed the UN Mission in Kosovo’s (UNMIK) Housing and Property Directorate, which to date has settled over 29,000 restitution claims in the territory.

In 1998 he prepared a Plan of Action on behalf of UNHCR for the possible return of refugees and IDPs in the Republic of Georgia and South Ossetia, including a draft Law on Housing and Property Restitution of the Republic of Georgia. Also in 1998, he worked with Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal to assist them in documenting restitution claims and evidence as a precursor to possible restitution. 


Mr Leckie has also produced a range of books dedicated to solving various displacement challenges. They are accessible here, and they include:

  • The United Nations Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons ('The Pinheiro Principles'): A Commentary (with Khaled Hassine) - Brill/Nijhoff,  2016

  • Repairing Domestic Climate Displacement: The Peninsula Principles (with Chris Huggins) - Routledge Studies in Development, Displacement and Resettlement, 2015

  • Land Solutions to Climate Displacement - Routledge Studies in Development, Displacement and Resettlement, 2014

  • The Climate Change and Displacement Reader (with Ezekiel Simperingham and Jordan Bakker) - Routledge, 2012

  • Conflict and Housing, Land and Property Rights: A Handbook on Issues, Frameworks and Solutions (with Chris Huggins) - Cambridge University Press, 2011

  • Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: The Current Legal Framework - Displacement Solutions - 2010

  • Housing, Land, and Property Rights in Post-Conflict United Nations and Other Peace Operations: A Comparative Survey and Proposal for Reform (ed) - Cambridge University Press, 2009

  • Housing, Land and Property Restitution Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons: Laws, Cases and Materials (ed.) - Cambridge University Press, 2007

  • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Cases and Materials (with Anne Gallagher) (ed.) - University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006

  • Returning Home: Housing and Property Restitution Rights for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (ed.) - Transnational Publishers, 2003

  • National Perspectives on Housing Rights (ed) – Foreword by Nelson Mandela - Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2003

He has also developed and assisted in the production and direction of several documentary films on these themes.

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