Here are some of things that have been happening around the world, of late:
The Colombian government's negotiations with the group behind that country's 50-year-old insurgency have broken down. Kenyans are preparing for their next presidential election. Israeli settlers and Palestinians have clashed on the West Bank. Chinese villagers are railing against the government.
These headlines might seem to have little in common. Yet there's something that unites them: the longing for land.
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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is talking about a peace agreement with the FARC, the guerrilla group born out of demands for land reform back in the early 1960s. Fittingly enough, land is also a sticking point in the current negotiations: Both sides accuse the other of displacing peasants from their farms.
In Kenya, where inequitable distribution of land has been a major bone of contention for at least the past two decades, the issue has been the source of some vicious mud-slinging in the recent presidential debates. The country's most recent constitution holds out the prospect of wide-ranging land reform, but Kenyans are still waiting to see it implemented.
In China, meanwhile, residents of the village of Wukan, who staged a much-noted protest against illegal land seizures in 2011, now say that the government is going back on its promises to return what was taken. And nine Palestinians were wounded in a clash with settlers after the Israelis chased a local man off his land in the West Bank village of Kusra.
Conflicts over land have existed pretty much ever since people began settling down in one place. Yet that doesn't mean that disputes are part of the natural order of things. There are many countries in the world where settled traditions of clear property rights protect against the most egregious abuses. But there are far too many other places where land scarcity, powerful business interests, muddled laws, or entrenched social inequality make fights over land inevitable.