Saturday, February 11, 2017

Balancing the Scales - Final Report on Community Protocols and Extractives Published

Are community protocols useful in assisting communities to respond to the challenges posed by extractive industries or large scale infrastructure development? For the last three years, four communities in Argentina, India, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, respectively, have been participating in a project that seeks to answer this question (click here for more information). 

The aim of the research project, implemented by Natural Justice with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and in partnership with organisations and communities in Argentina, India, Kenya and Zimbabwe, was to build a better understanding of the ways in which community protocols can be effective in the context of extractive industries and related infrastructure development. The project, which commenced in 2013, has followed and supported community protocol processes in each of these countries. It has supported the sharing of information about protocols among all of the communities, as well as with the public, and resulted in the creation of a Community Protocols Toolbox that sets forth guidance on what facilitators should consider before and while embarking on a protocol process.


The project recently came to an end with the publication of a report, which provides an overview of what has taken place over the last three years in each of the four community protocol processes. The report also captures lessons that can be applied to future protocol processes, should other communities and civil society actors wish to engage in them. The report can be found here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Appel à candidature: chercheur/chercheuse en République de Guinée

Nous élargissons notre équipe et cherchons un chercheur/une chercheuse sur les impacts des industries extractives basé(e) en Guinée Conakry.

We are expanding out team and looking for a researcher based in Guinea Conakry to work on impacts of extractives and infrastructure projects.

Que cherchons-nous ?

Natural Justice va entreprendre une étude qui examine les stratégies utilisées par les communautés et la société civile pour atténuer les impacts des projets miniers et d'infrastructure et offrir des recours adéquats aux personnes touchées. Ces recherches feront partie d'une étude sur trois pays, comprenant également le Kenya et le Zimbabwe, qui vise à partager et à améliorer les stratégies et programmes appliqués dans différents contextes.

Nous recherchons un(e) chercheur/chercheuse à plein temps ou à temps partiel pour entreprendre l'étude en République de Guinée et fournir des conseils techniques aux groupes concernés ou à la société civile, au besoin. Le/la candidat(e) retenu(e) sera basé(e) en Guinée, avec des voyages internationaux occasionnels lorsque nécessaire, et devra commencer à travailler immédiatement.

Date limite: 05 Mars 2017

Pour plus de détails, voyez: http://naturaljustice.org/job/appel-candidature-chercheurchercheuse-en-republique-de-guinee/

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Two Worlds of Nagoya: new publication by Natural Justice and Public Eye

A new report, published by Public Eye and Natural Justice, shows the large discrepancies between the EU ABS framework and emerging provider country laws in how they implement the Nagoya Protocol, and the consequences for access and benefit sharing.  

The study will be presented at a side event during the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancún, Mexico on Wednesday 14 December 2016 at 18:15 in Side-event Room 2, Universal building. 

It focuses on three issues:




1.     The “temporal scope”:
The EU Regulation takes the position that benefit sharing obligations are triggered by the physical access to a genetic resource (GR) or associated traditional knowledge (aTK) in the country of origin, and limits the obligations of users of GRs and aTK to uses of resources that have been accessed in provider countries after the Nagoya Protocol has been ratified by both the EU and the country of origin. This is in contrast with the understanding of most, if not all, provider countries, whose legislations consider that benefit sharing should be triggered by the utilization of GR and aTK. This should include any new utilization of GR and aTK after the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol or the national ABS law of the provider country, even if the physical access took place before (as is the case with the majority of GR and aTK held in ex-situ collections, for instance).

2.     Associated Traditional Knowledge:
The EU regulation limits the aTK that falls under its provisions by defining it as “traditional knowledge held by an indigenous or local community that is relevant for the utilisation of genetic resources and that is as such described in the mutually agreed terms applying to the utilisation of genetic resources”. This definition – i.e. including only aTK that is mentioned in MAT - is concerning because it makes it near impossible to track the illegal access and utilisation of aTK, i.e. the utilisation of aTK which has been accessed without PIC (prior informed consent) and MAT.

3.     The “import loophole”:
A significant gap in the EU regulation exists because it requires due diligence only from users of GR and aTK within the EU – not from parties selling or otherwise commercially profiting from products based on GR and aTK which were developed outside of the EU and then imported.
  
The study argues that these discrepancies between the EU regulation and provider country legislations will lead to legal uncertainty for providers and users alike. This in turn, if solutions are not found, could lead to more restrictive access measures by provider countries. It goes on to propose potential measures that can be taken by various actors to maintain the spirit of the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol, fulfil the rights of provider countries and of indigenous peoples and local communities, and achieve fair and equitable benefit sharing.

For more information 
Barbara Lassen, barbara@naturaljustice.org, Natural Justice
Francois Meienberg, francois.meienberg@publiceye.ch, Public Eye 



Friday, November 11, 2016

CAPE TOWN HUB- SKILL SHARE SESSION: Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Africa; With a Special Focus on Central, Eastern and Southern Africa

Guest Speaker & author
Dr. Albert Kwokwo Barume,
UN Chair to Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On the 31st of October 2016, the Cape Town hub hosted a Skill and Information Sharing Session with our eminent guest speaker, Dr. Albert Barume.  He is an African lawyer from the DRC region. He is one of the leading experts around land, human rights and related matters affecting indigenous peoples. He played a key role in leading the protection of rights and norms of indigenous peoples in especially the Africa region and internationally. He also led on the process engaging African governments to support the vote in favour of adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during 2007. Which resulted in the development of the Advisory Opinion of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights Commission on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples impacting the adoption of the UNDRIP during September 2007. He also serves as an expert member to the African Commission’s special mechanism called the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa.  For our skill share session he was a discussant to his book called, Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Africa: With a Special Focus on Central, Eastern and Southern Africa.

He touched on important issues ranging from the human rights-based meaning pertaining the conceptualization of indigenous peoples’ rights in Africa. He also discussed the land rights challenges faced by IPs in the region. Highlighting the importance of the preservation and protection of their land use and management systems, as well as their ways of life. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Bailique Community Protocol in Brazil

Guest blog by Roberta Peixoto Ramos, PhD student at the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)


In December 2014, the communities of the Bailique Archipelago, an area situated in the Amazonian State of Amapá in Brazil, assembled to vote for the final agreements that would compose their Community Protocol. This was the result of 14 months of workshops, meetings and informal conversations, where communities focused on different aspects of their livelihood, decision-making processes and the need to be informed and empowered to have a more equal dialogue with any external actor that might approach the communities.

The project to construct the Bailique Community Protocol was born out of a necessity to recognize the right of indigenous people and traditional communities to be involved and participate in all decisions related to their territory in a national scenario that was (and still is) characterized by a complete disrespect for this right. Furthermore, the discussion around the community protocol focused on the recognition of the vital role that these local communities have in the conservation of biodiversity.

Thus, the community protocol is composed of community local rules that reflect their traditional way of life and the manner in which the community relates to itself and to external actors. Also, the protocol is a document that defines procedures, criteria and tools for territorial management and the sustainable use of natural resources.

The Bailique communities use small boats to move
around their territory.
Credit: Paulo Santos/Acervo H
The Community Protocol project was proposed to the Bailique communities in 2013 by the Brazilian NGO ‘Grupo de Trabalho Amazônico (GTA)’[1], which is a network of different community institutions located throughout the Brazilian Amazon. The Bailique archipelago is situated at the mouth of the Amazon river, at around 200 km from the city of Macapá in the state of Amapá, and only reachable by boat.  The population is of about eleven thousand people distributed in approximately 51 communities. Their main activities are fishing and extraction of forest products, of which acai berry extraction is the main source of income.

The foundation of the methodology developed to construct community protocols is to enable the full participation of communities in all aspects and all levels of the project. Hence, the first step was to get the community’s free, prior and informed consent with regards to having the project in their territory. It is interesting to note that the Bailique community was not facing any impending threat at the time and their decision to start a process to construct their community protocol was based on their vision that the protocol would enable the community to be better organized locally and more empowered rather than help them with a specific conflict.

The methodology developed was divided in four major workshops covering the following areas (i) a social, environmental, cultural and economic analysis of their territory and communities; (ii) relevant national legislation, international treaties and public policies; (iii) access to genetic resources, traditional knowledge and benefit-sharing and (iv) risks and opportunities of the protocol.

One of the most innovative tools proposed was the so called ‘consultation document’, which was an instrument used to ensure a more horizontal participation of the communities. During the workshops, each community would send their representative, who would discuss issues related to their community and to the Bailique territory. All these discussions were to become part of the text of their protocol. In order to avoid that the Bailique Protocol become a mere reflection of the leadership’s views (understanding that there are also power challenges at the local level), the project created a system where all the answers given by these leaders during the workshops were systematized in a ‘consultation document’, which was then circulated to every household in order to verify the answers given. In this ‘consultation document’ there were the answers given by the leaders and a space where the person consulted could agree, disagree or add to the answer given. There were two rounds of this ‘consultation document’. One took place after the first workshop and the second after the first general assembly where the leaders had the chance to see the results of the first ‘consultation document’ and react to what was changed or agreed. These household visits were done by the ‘support team’, which was formed by young people from the communities who wanted to get more involved. The result was that at the end of the process the project visited over 70% of the households taking part in the protocol and there was an increased sense of legitimacy and belonging, as young people increasingly became the voice of the project.

Community discussing the need to improve the quality
 of their products. Credit: Paulo Santos/Acervo H
The Bailique Community Protocol has achieved many important results to date and the project is now working with communities to help them put in practice the decisions of their Protocol assembly. Some of the more concrete results are:
  • Creation of the Association of the Bailique Community Protocol (ACTB), which is composed of traditional leadership and young leaders that represent and act upon the decisions of the assembly.
  • Identification of four main products of their sociobiodiversity that they want to explore further, improve its quality and search for new technology and new markets: fish, acai berries, essential oils and medicinal plants.
  • Identification of land irregularity in the region (that was not clear before the protocol), which was causing conflicts, legal uncertainty and impeding communities from accessing certain public policies that require land ownership. The communities are now working closely with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and land agencies to resolve their land issues.
  • Identification of the need to have their own ‘Family School’ in their territory, which is an education system designed to answer for the needs of forested people, allowing young people to get quality education without leaving their communities. This school is going to be partially funded by the acai berry producers who are organizing themselves to have their acai berry production certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which will eventually increase their income, allowing them to use a share of this revenue to fund the Family School.

In addition to these, there are other less visible results of the protocol which are more difficult to measure, but that are the foundation of the changes that are happening in the territory. The Bailique communities are more informed about their rights as traditional communities and their rights as Brazilian citizens, they are more informed about national and international legislation and they are challenging local power structures that historically have been associated with local political parties and therefore paternalist approaches [ for the initial results see OELA Policy Brief Issue 1].

A house surrounded by native acai trees.
Credit: Paulo Santos/Acervo H
But more importantly, the process of constructing their community protocol has allowed them to become more empowered to define, decide, and act upon the development path they choose to follow, while becoming increasingly aware of the importance of conserving their local biodiversity and preserving their traditional ways of life.





[1] Since July 2016, the NGO OELA has become the main supportive institution in the process of the Bailique protocol, while GTA remains as an important partner.

You can contact Roberta on email: r.p.ramos@lse.ac.uk.

The views reflected here do not necessarily represent those of Natural Justice.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Internships with Natural Justice: A personal reflection by Julia Roettinger

Julia & Gerren - Planning the Climate Justice Workshop
(Photo credit: Cath Traynor)
Julia Roettinger reflects on her two months as an intern with Natural Justice's Cape Town Hub and the Climate Change Program

Natural Justice certainly does not make you feel like a typical intern. Instead you gain valuable hands-on experience as well as an insight in the office work of a small NGO, led by a dedicated team, in the centre of Cape Town.

My two-month internship was everything I was hoping for and more. As an international Master’s student at UCT I was assisting Dr Cath Traynor with the fairly new Climate Change Program at Natural Justice, which aims to empower indigenous peoples through rights-based adaptation approaches together with communities. My tasks included contributing to a policy/academic paper on climate change impacts and the right to food in Southern Africa with a particular focus on indigenous peoples which will probably be published soon. In addition to that I was given the opportunity to drive up to Kuboes, a small place close to the Namibian border inhabited by the Nama people, where we facilitated a work shop on climate change for the Kuboes youth group. This turned out to be an amazing and also eye-opening experience. We heard about climate change impacts from first hand and I realized how urgent the problem actually is for those vulnerable groups. No matter how much the “international community” and the national government tries to mitigate we, and especially remote and rural communities, have to find ways to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. So what can be done? And how can Natural Justice assist? I realized how important Natural Justice’s work is.

Julia fitting in some studying after the Peer-to-Peer Activities
(Photo credit: Cath Traynor)
Just when I thought my internship could not get more interesting Cath asked me to come along with her to Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape to be part of a peer-to-peer learning exchange with the local community and “our” Kuboes youth group. We stayed at a fully self-sustainable ecolodge where we were guests of the NGOs Indigo Development & Change and Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) who made it an inspiring and very informative trip. I could literally see the excitement in the young adults’ eyes. They could not wait to get home and engage with their elders’ knowledge in order to find adaptation solutions. I believe that it is about those kind of experiences that passionate people like Cath work and live for.


They say timing is everything and perhaps my timing for this internship was just right but I truly believe that Natural Justice has so much to offer for interns throughout the year. I have had an incredible time learning about South Africa, its indigenous peoples and climate change and I can now say that it was one of the most exciting and interesting internships I have done so far.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CAPE TOWN HUB: SKILL SHARE SESSION: ‘Conservation Standards’: From rights to responsibilities

Skill Share Presenter: Harry Jonas


With the recognition of the scope for human rights violations in the name of conservation, Harry Jonas and Jael Makagon, set out to produce a set of ‘Conservation Standards’. Harry Jonas, our Program Director, shared the work they produced at the monthly Skill and Information Sharing Session.  

He set out the purpose of these ‘Conservation Standards’  to serve as guidance to right-bearers and stakeholder groups involved in conservation interventions. It aims to be as clear as possible on what precisely are the standards to be complied with when undertaking conservation initiatives. These standards are specifically based on the rights of indigenous peoples, with a focus on the law as it is stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This declaration is an articulation of already established customary international norms and standards as found in international law.

He also discussed the importance of the Whakatane Mechanism in relation to the Conservation Standards. The Whakatane Mechanism serves as a redress mechanism in assessing disputes arising in different protected areas around the world.

Natural Justice presented these ‘Conservation Standards’ at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii early September 2016. It is also currently being discussed at a meeting in Geneva hosted by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, and will be further discussed at a meeting focusing on the Whakatane Mechanism in October.

Whakatane Mechanism

Thursday, September 22, 2016

CAPE TOWN HUB: SKILL SHARE SESSION: The Making and Unmaking of Patent Ownership: Technicalities, Materialities, and Subjectivities


Hoodia (Photo credit: Cath Traynor)
 Guest Blog by Dr. Laura A. Foster

Dr. Laura Foster recently led a seminar with Natural Justice regarding her newly published article titled “The Making and Unmaking of Patent Ownership: Technicalities, Materialities, and Subjectivities” regarding issues of indigenous peoples’ knowledge, patent ownership and benefit sharing. The seminar sparked an informative discussion on how the assumptions and rules of patent ownership are designed to value certain forms of knowledge production over others, namely that of knowledge produced in a lab over that of indigenous peoples knowledge. Foster stressed the importance of also examining how knowledge produced by scientists in the lab and indigenous peoples in the Kalahari are in fact similar rather than different. An abstract and excerpt from her new article is featured here.

Abstract

Feminist sociolegal studies have recently taken up the technicalities of doctrines, documents, and regulations to better understand the law. In an affiliated move, feminist science studies turned to the materialities of theories, practices, and nonhuman organisms to make critical sense of science. These methodological turns focus not on gender, per se, but on precise mechanisms of law and science that structure, reinforce, and reconfigure power and inequality. Drawing on these methodological approaches, this article attends to the technicalities and materialities of patent ownership and benefit sharing in South Africa in regards to San peoples’ struggles over the patenting of the Hoodia gordonii plant. An examination of patent documents, benefit-sharing agreements, legislative appendixes, and the biology of plants generates an understanding of how patent ownership, rather than being natural or value-neutral, is a historical and sociocultural process shaping, refashioning, and being inscribed across multiple scales of nation-state jurisdictions, divergent ways of knowing, and biochemical orderings of plants

Excerpt
Hoodia seedlings (Photo credit: Cath Traynor)

Scientists with the South African Center for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) obtained a provisional patent in 1997 related to the Hoodia gordonii  plant, which they found to be responsible for suppressing appetite.  The patenting of Hoodia properties, officially granted in 1999, incited a network of actors as the plant was poised to become the next blockbuster weight-loss drug. CSIR scientists collaborated with the UK biotechnology firm Phytopharm and the global pharmaceutical company Pfizer, and eventually with Unilever, to develop Hoodia- based products for the growing “obesity epidemic” in the United States. Angered over the patenting of Hoodia , indigenous San peoples mobilized against CSIR and its commercial partners, accusing them of stealing their knowledge without prior informed consent (Barnett 2001; Wynberg 2004). San claimed historical discovery of the plant they referred to as !Khoba  as a source of water and energy when food supplies were low. Their knowledge of the plant’s properties and uses in conditions of scarcity was now being appropriated to treat obesity. San’s collective organizing led to the signing of a benefit sharing agreement in 2003, whereby CSIR agreed to give San peoples 6 percent of their royalty income from future Hoodia  sales and 8 percent of milestone payments.

My own ethnographic research into Hoodia  arose when San–CSIR benefit sharing seemingly faltered. Unilever dropped the project in late 2008, casting doubt over the promise of Hoodia -based products and monies to San. Legal uncertainty also ensued with the adoption of the Bio-Prospecting, Access and Benefit-Sharing Regulations4  in 2008 (hereafter, BABS Regulations). Despite this uncertainty, Khomani San I spoke with considered benefit sharing to be a success because it brought recognition to San peoples. Benefit sharing simultaneously recognized two divergent ways of understanding Hoodia —one emanating from San and the other from CSIR researchers. The mechanisms underlying this recognition, however, remain unexamined. Several accounts have produced valuable histories of San struggles over the patenting of Hoodia  and subsequent benefit-sharing negotiations (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009; Vermeylen 2008; Wynberg, Schroeder, and Chennells 2009). Delving into the technicalities and materialities relevant to these struggles, however, provides additional insights into how patent ownership and benefit sharing become sites for the fashioning (and unfashioning) of human and nonhuman subjects, albeit in limited and unequal ways.

In particular, I examine the technicalities of two Hoodia patent documents, the San–CSIR benefit-sharing agreement, and a South African legislative appendix governing benefit sharing to understand how patent ownership is constituted. To guide my analysis, I draw upon a recent turn in feminist sociolegal studies toward the technical and everyday details of law to understand how hierarchies of power and knowledge are produced and contested (Riles 2005; Valverde 2009). For instance, I find that the Hoodia invention and its scope of patent ownership differ in South Africa versus the United States. Through this analysis, patent ownership emerges not as a Lockean natural property right, but as a contingent and historical process.

Furthermore, I analyze how patents involve the making of both human and nonhuman subjects. While feminist sociolegal studies turn to technicalities, feminist science studies takes up the materialities of human and nonhuman matter. Attention is placed not only on the discursive representations of humans and nonhumans, but also on how the unpredictability of their biologies and materialities provoke their discursive constraints (Alaimo 2011; Barad 2007; Bennett 2010; Coole and Frost 2010). Considering the biochemistry of the plant, I show how Hoodia patent ownership and benefit sharing become sites for the interrelated engendering of both San and Hoodia . The liveliness of the plant inscribes San agency and conditions of law, and vice versa. In the end, I argue that patent ownership and benefit sharing are contingent scalar processes; as such, they are best understood through attention to scale, specificity, and the making of human and nonhuman subjects that are co-constituted by and against the law.

Citation

This excerpt can be cited as follows: PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Vol. 39, Number 1, pps. 127–143. 

The full text of the article can be found at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/plar.12135/abstract

Dr. Laura Foster (@DrLauraAFoster) (fosterl at indiana.edu) is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University, where she is also Affiliate Faculty in the IU Maurer School of Law and African Studies Program. She is also a Senior Research Associate in the Intellectual Property Unit at University of Cape Town Faculty of Law. Her current book project examines how contestations over patent ownership rights, Indigenous San knowledge, and Hoodia plants in South Africa present emerging sites of struggle over who does and does not belong. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Looking for part-time or full-time Intern to support NJ in New York City

Who is Natural Justice?
Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is a young and fast-paced non-profit organisation specialising in human rights and environmental law. We are an African pioneering team of legal practitioners, who conduct comprehensive research on environmental and human rights law, support communities and local organisations, provide technical advice to governments and intergovernmental organisations, and engage in key international processes in pursuit of environmental justice. Natural Justice works in a number of African countries, with its headquarters in Cape Town and teams in Kenya, Benin and USA.
What are we looking for?
Natural Justice is looking for a part time or full time intern who will support the Executive Director, based out of New York City. The intern is expected to support the ED in a number of her responsibilities, in particular relating to communications and fundraising activities.
What’s on offer?
Natural Justice is a close-knit and nurturing collective that places emphasis on facilitating opportunities for the professional and personal growth of its members. Joining Natural Justice will also give the successful candidate a chance to work with a passionate and highly professional team in a fast-paced environment and gain valuable work experience. The successful candidate will get a close look at the day-to-day management challenges of a young international NGO. The length of the internship is open-ended but we expect a minimum stay of 3 months. The internship will be unpaid. The successful candidate can work from home but will be encouraged to work out of Natural Justice’s small office in Brooklyn.
Minimum skills and experience required:
  • Some background in the field of human rights and/or environmental justice.
  • Good writing skills for different platforms and audiences, ranging from social media, fundraising proposals to academic publications;
  • Experience with different social media platforms
  • Ability to work well under pressure with minimal supervision;
  • Ability to multi-task, be flexible and work in varying conditions.
Application process:
Deadline: 30 September 2016 
Email your application to Johanna von Braun (johanna@naturaljustice.org).

Include a motivation letter that indicates why you would like to work for Natural Justice and a detailed CV.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

IUCN World Conservation Congress

The 6th IUCN World Conservation Congress was held from 1-10 September in Hawai’i (USA). Harry Jonas launched the first draft of the Conservation Standards at an event co-hosted with Gina Cosentina, which was attended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, among others. As a Co-Chair of the IUCN Task Force on Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs), he also presented on early guidance on OECMs at an event hosted at the Protected Planet Pavilion. A number of important resolutions were adopted at the Congress’s Assembly, including on: a) recognition and respect of indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs) overlapped by protected areas, and b) Enabling the Whakatane Mechanism to contribute to conservation though securing communities’ rights.