Blockchain as a tool for land rights: ownership of land in Cyprus

Publication Date20 Apr 2020
AuthorBalkiz Yapicioglu,Rebecca Leshinsky
SubjectProperty management & built environment,Building & construction,Building & construction law,Real estate & property,Property law
Blockchain as a tool for land
rights: ownership of land
in Cyprus
Balkiz Yapicioglu
Department of Design, Arkin University of Creative Arts and Design,
Kyrenia, Cyprus, and
Rebecca Leshinsky
Department of Property, Construction and Project Management,
RMIT University City Campus, Melbourne, Australia
Purpose This paper aims to set out an argument for the use of blockchain technology as a land
registrationtool, for Cyprus and other disputed landcontexts, to assist with land disputes, whichmay, in turn,
promote peaceand harmony.
Design/methodology/approach The paper is exploratoryin nature.It raises the historicaland present
land issues in Cyprus and highlights that blockchain technologies could work as a tool to record disputed
propertyrights on the Island.
Findings While there have beenmany pilots to date for blockchain land registration, there is stillscope to
develop blockchainas a tool to record land interests. Cyprus offers an exemplaropportunity to use such a tool
to assist in developingpeace on the Island.
Originality/value While the paper is conceptualin its application of blockchain technologies, it is novel
in that it strivesto show how technologies such as blockchain can actas a tool to assist with land registration
matters, which, in turn, canassist with new ways to approach the peace process. More research is necessary
for this area of inquiry, especially as to howsidechains can act as a conduit for recording competing land
interestsand disputed land claims.
Keywords Cyprus, Peace, Land registration, Blockchain, Disputed titles, Sidechains
Paper type Conceptual paper
1. Introduction
Land and property ownership tensions in Cyprus, stem from the beginning of the are-ups
in Cyprus in the early 1960s, and were particularly exasperated after the division of the
island in 1974. Land ownership issues have grown both in scale and complexity, and are
currently, the main intractable knot in the settlement of the Cyprus dispute. Even in 1972,
Richard Patrick pointed out thatthe matter of land ownership is most sensitive because of
its signicance in any future geopoliticalsettlement.Patrick (1976) also noted that current
claims and counterclaims are difcult to verify because [among other things] neither
community is willing to open its land registration books to an impartial audit. It is obvious
that unless there is a transparentand convincing plan to resolve conicting land claims, the
reunication efforts on the island will result in disappointments, as it has continued to be
since 1960. Because of the unsuccessful political efforts to date, to resolve the property and
land issue in Cyprus, the property question is increasingly being fragmented by individual
actions and the courts a process that will be more expensive, slow and inefcient for all
Blockchain as
a tool for land
Received27 February 2020
Revised4 March 2020
Accepted9 March 2020
Journalof Property, Planning and
Vol.12 No. 2, 2020
pp. 171-182
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JPPEL-02-2020-0010
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