Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Second Session of IPBES Held in Turkey

From 9-14 December 2013, the second session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-2) met in Antalya, Turkey. The objective of the platform is “to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, for long-term human well-being and sustainable development”.

Within the final decision of the Platform “The Antalya Consensus” was adopted by delegates, this includes the following:
  • A work programme for the period 2014-2018;
  • Three task forces on capacity building, Indigenous and local knowledge systems, and knowledge and data;
  • Development of a guide for the production and integration of sub-regional and regional assessments;
  • Methodological assessments on: pollination and pollinators associated with food production; scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services; the conceptualisation of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefit to people; and thematic assessments on land degradation and restoration, invasive alien species, and the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity; and
  • Rules and procedures for the Platform including the nomination of future Multidisciplinary Expert Panel members.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

ICCA Kenya Committee hosts Coast Meeting

From December 9-10th the ICCA Committee in Kenya hosted a multi-stakeholder meeting in Ukunda along the Kenya coast. The objective of the meeting was to initiate discussions on the idea of ICCAs amongst a wide range of community members involved in local conservation initiatives. Participants of the meeting included representatives from conservancies, rangelands, Community Forest Associations (CFAs), Kayas (sacred forests) and Beach Management Units (BMUs) from all along the coastal region. As a member of the ICCA Committee in Kenya, Natural Justice was involved in the planning and coordination of the meeting. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pacific Biodiversity

Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) attended the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in Fiji on 2-6 December 2013. Delegates reviewed the previous Action Strategy for Nature Conservation and updated it under the theme of 'Natural Solutions: Building Resilience for a Changing Pacific'. Natural Justice supported the ABS Capacity Development Initiative to host a workshop on challenges and opportunities associated with access and benefit sharing and attended with other workshops on locally managed marine areas and legal support for environmental challenges. More information on the conference is available here.

African Views on Green Development: A Multi-stakeholder Dialogue

From 4-5 December 2013, Natural Justice, together with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, hosted the ‘African Views on Green Development: A Multi-stakeholder Dialogue’ in Cape Town. Over 25 participants from the region representing civil society organisations, multilateral organisations, research institutes and academia attended. 

The objectives of the dialogue were to consider practical experiences across Africa on diversifying rural economies, localising development and increasing sustainable production to aid in the formation of policy positions that inherently reflect African needs and interests as input for the global green development agenda. The dialogues opened with an introduction to green development and the concept of the green economy. Sessions included the macro-economic scale of green development which considered the need to move towards sustainability-orientated investments, the likelihood of reforms within the capitalist system, and the importance of values and principles to underpin green development. A separate session explored locally-driven green development opportunities, best-practices were presented, and enabling conditions required for a green transition to support community rights discussed. A green employment and trade session examined creating jobs and opening markets, the need for decent jobs, job creation tools such as government spending and taxation, and the positive and negative impacts of greening the economy on jobs and different interest groups. In the final session participants deliberated the post-2015 development agenda, and opportunities and strategies for diverse organisations to positively influence the process. The dialogues wrapped up by identifying priority areas for future engagement. 

A summary report of the dialogues will be produced, and in 2014 strategic think pieces will be commissioned which will contribute African perspectives to the global process shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

Natural Justice presents on the Kenya Mining Bill 2013

From December 5-6th Natural Justice attended the Annual General Meeting of the Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG). KOGWG is a platform for stakeholder, Civil Society and community engagement on governance, sustainability and development issues in the oil and gas sector in Kenya. 

The first day was a policy review meeting to discuss the Mining Bill 2013 and Petroleum Act. To set up these discussions, presentations on the experiences of other countries in the region were given. Mohammed Athman from Save Lamu presented on his recent experiences in South Africa at the Natural Justice and Namati Land Symposium. Mohammed shared case studies of other communities across Africa who are struggling with similar issues, especially, how to put the law in people's hands. 

In the afternoon, Maya Sikand from Natural Justice gave a presentation on the current Kenyan Mining Bill. The presentation focused on human rights and environmental issues within the Bill, including consent, compensation, benefit-sharing and Environmental Impact Assessments. Notes from the group discussion on the Bill will be submitted as input from the Working Group.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"A great light has gone out in the world*"


Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century, passed away last night. As the world pays tribute to Mandela, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the values and issues he fought for so passionately. As accolades and condolences come pouring in from right and left wing governments, it is easy to forget that when Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island in the early 1980s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan both labelled him as a 'terrorist'. Today the foremost legacy of Mandela is that of the man who emerged from those 27 years of political imprisonment. The statesman and father of the nation who was able to so generously forgive his captors and lead his country through the difficult process of reconciliation. The dignity, grace and humility with which Mandela was able to forgive his enemies and become the first Black President of South Africa and the head of a government of diverse races, interests and beliefs, has been an inspiration to many. 

Now, as we bid farewell to Madiba, those of us working in South Africa and across the world to fight for equality, freedom and justice should remind ourselves that while his legacy is indeed enormous and inspirational, there is still much work to be done. Racial and economic divides persist across the world today. Perhaps the best way to honour the work Mandela has done is to acknowledge this reality and continue to speak up for the issues he cared so deeply about.

*F. W. de Klerk

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ILC publishes study on indigenous peoples’ rights to lands, territories, and resources

This study assesses the international instruments, mechanisms, UN bodies, and other regional and global initiatives that address concerns relating to indigenous lands, territories, and resources. In addition, it carries out an extensive regional review, showing how the situation of indigenous peoples varies across regions and countries. It also analyses the terms in which indigenous peoples’ issues are posed in core thematic and transversal issues such as women’s land rights, environment, and climate change. The study concludes with an overview of global trends, challenges, and opportunities that pertain to indigenous peoples’ land and territorial rights. Readers may find of interest the annexed table on a possible set of indicators regarding key land-related provisions in international frameworks. These indicators are of high relevance in the current debate on Post 2015 development and sustainable goals and related indicators .

The author, Birgitte Feiring, is a renowned anthropologist who has worked on indigenous peoples’ rights and development for more than 25 years in several agencies worldwide, including as the ILO Chief Technical Adviser on Convention No. 169 and as an adviser to bilateral and multilateral agencies and to indigenous peoples themselves.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

UN Global Compact Launches Business Guide on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On 2 December 2013, the UN Global Compact launched A Business Reference Guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as part of the UN's Forum on Business and Human Rights. The aim of the guide is to help business "understand, respect and support the rights of indigenous peoples by illustrating how these rights are relevant to business activities". 

The Business Reference Guide was developed over a period of 18 months, involving the inputs of a number of Global Compact LEAD companies, as well as indigenous peoples, companies, business and industry associations, academia, international organisations, NGOs and individuals. 

The Global Compact is a call to companies to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with ten universally-accepted principles with respect to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Vacancy - Senior Bookkeeper

Natural Justice is looking for a full-time Senior Bookkeeper who can assist our office manager in Cape Town in the financial management of the organisation, maintain established financial management systems, report to various stakeholders, and be prepared to execute all administrative tasks incidental to the finance department. 

Please download the call for applications for more information, including instructions for submitting an application. The deadline is 9 December 2013, 17h00 (GMT+1). Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview. Thanks in advance and good luck!

Is Oil the End of Poverty in Kenya? Or are we seeing the new Scramble for Africa?

Map of Oil Exploration blocks in Kenya
From November 26-27th Maya Sikand from Natural Justice attended a seminar on the extractives industry in Kenya entitled, ‘Kenya’s new natural resource discoveries: Blessing or Curse?’ The meeting was co-hosted by the Tax Justice Network Africa, Econews Africa, East Africa Tax and Governance Network, Kenya Human Rights Commission and Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group. Attendees ranged from Civil Society representatives from Kenya, Ghana, DRC and Zambia among others, as well as members of the Turkana and Endorois communities.

Some of the key issues raised in the various panels and plenary discussions included: 
  • Should Kenya sign up to the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI)? 
  • Kenya’s development model. Extraction is an important pillar of Vision 2030, the current national economic model. To ensure this, the country has to work extremely hard to court Foreign Direct Investment. Should we be questioning this development investors and governments 
  • The importance of land for Africans, it is not really possible to compensate someone for the loss of something that makes up their very identity. For this reason, the idea of Shareholding Ownership Schemes was suggested as a progressive model to structure community benefits. This has successfully been implemented in some mining areas in Zimbabwe. 
  • Kenya’s development model. Extraction is an important pillar of Vision 2030, the current national economic model. To ensure this, the country has to work extremely hard to court Foreign Direct Investment. Should we be questioning this development model?

African Regional Civil Society Convening on Human Rights and Business

From 25 to 27 November 2013, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice attended the African Regional Civil Society Convening on Human Rights and Business in Accra, Ghana. With at least 20 participants from central, eastern, southern and western Ghana, the objectives of the meeting included: 
  • Sharing of learning and skills on practical strategies for influencing state and company practices and polices to realize human rights, and the complex system of mechanisms, both judicial and non-judicial, for effective remedy; 
  • Build understanding and relationships among African CSOs working to protect human rights where business activities occur;
  • Design an agenda for an African regional coalition on human rights and business and engage with the 9th Biennial Conference of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions; 
The establishment of the African Coalition on Corporate Accountability (ACCA) emerged from this meeting and ACCA's first declaration was presented at the UN's second Forum on Business and Human Rights from 2 to 4 December in Geneva. You may find the declaration in English and French here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Natural Justice Statement of Support

Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is a not-for-profit association registered in South Africa since 2007. We work at the local, national, regional, and international levels with a wide range of partners, including in several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in support of Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ self-determination and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources. Much of our work aims to ensure that procedural and substantive rights of marginalised peoples and communities, as well as responsibilities of duty-bearers, are represented and realised at all levels of law and policy.

One of our Fellows in India, Stella James, recently made a personal decision to write about her experience with sexual harassment. This was published online in the Journal of Indian Law and Society  on 6 November 2013 (http://jilsblognujs.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/through-my-looking-glass/) and was subsequently featured in numerous online, national and international news outlets. On Monday 18 November, she made a statement before a 3-member Committee established by the Supreme Court of India to investigate the allegations. On Thursday 21 November, she wrote a second statement in the Journal of Indian Law and Society to clarify recent events (http://jilsblognujs.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/statement-of-stella-james-21-11-2013-2/). We request media to refer to her original statements, which clearly state her views on the issue.

We condemn every form of harassment, assault and abuse of women, including in the legal profession itself. Women who face such attacks and decide to come forward with their experiences in the hopes of preventing others from facing the same are extraordinarily brave and must be supported in their individual struggles as we collectively strive for a world free of discrimination and injustice. We stand in solidarity with our team member and request all media to respect Stella’s privacy. Natural Justice will not respond to requests for comments or further information.

*     *     *

For information about Natural Justice, please see: www.naturaljustice.org
For Stella’s original statements, please see:

Natural Justice visit Kutch, Gujarat

Revati Pandya and Arpitha Kodiveri of Natural Justice in India recently visited Kutch, Gujarat from November 19th-25th,
2013 to work with Sahjeevan in identifying legal issues that effect the camel maldharis that migrate through this vast landscape. Field visits with communities in Chhari Dhand, Lakhpat and the Banni area led to interesting insights into the nature of threats that the community faces from fast paced industrialization through the establishment of cement and chemical plants to restriction of grazing rights in mangrove and other protected areas. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Coexistence of Culture, Environment & LAPSSET Theatre Performance

Save Lamu information booth at the Cultural Festival
On Saturday 21st November, Save Lamu Voices gave a theatre performance, entitled Coexistence of Culture, Environment & LAPSSET at the 13th Annual Lamu Cultural Festival. The workshops and performance were organized by one of Natural Justice’s partners, Save Lamu

The group Save Lamu Voices is a group of local actors, consisting of youth, women, and members of indigenous communities within the county such as the Bajun, Orma, Aweer and Sanye. The performance was the result of several weeks of participatory theatre workshops aiming to: 
  1. Raise awareness amongst the community on the LAPSSET Project and extractives industries in Lamu; 
  2. Foster dialogue amongst the community on dealing with the challenges of the impending port, including the preservation of the cultural and social identity of marginalized indigenous communities in Lamu. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Paudhi Bhuinya Community, Odisha, India

On November 20th 2013 a workshop on Biocultural Community Protocols was held in Bhatuda village, Odisha, India. The workshop was organized by Jeevan Vikash in collaboration with HBS-Natural Justice. George Pyara Jojo from Jeevan Vikash and Kishore Kumar Patnaik from HBS-Natural Justice took part in the workshop. Around 85 villagers belonging to: the Paudi Bhuinya Community (PBC), other Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes of Bhatuda Panchayat, participated in the workshop. The villagers shared and discussed their cultural activities and livelihoods. These traditions have been practiced by PBC for generations, many consisting of unwritten ceremonies and other beliefs of their ancestral system. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Roundtable Meeting on the Effect of Oil and Mining Activities on Communities in Kenya

On November 19th Maya Sikand from Natural Justice attended a roundtable meeting on the effect of oil and mining activities on communities in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting opened with a presentation by Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) researcher Joshua Laichena on an upcoming research project KIPPRA is undertaking with the Brookings Institute on the effects of oil and mining activities on communities in Turkana, Kwale and Kitui Counties. Currently, the research is in the planning phases, but it will hopefully be complete by March 2014. The research will consist of multi-stakeholder forums, community interviews and GIS mapping. 

Most attendees articulated that Kenya needs further laws to regulate this sector, especially as the legal landscape is changing very quickly. A need was expressed for a community engagement mechanism that will work for Kenya as a country. This should include good communication mechanisms to help the community to understand and participate in decision-making processes. Capacity-building is also necessary are communities are currently unable to negotiate for themselves (especially when up against well-paid international lawyers for investing companies). Natural Justice’s work with BCPs seems particularly relevant to these needs. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sacred Natural Sites Side Event as the Asian Parks Congress


The First Asian Parks Congress this year was held from 13-18th November in Japan, hosting over 800 people. The meeting is in preparation for the World Parks Congress in Sydney next near. The Sacred Natural Sites Initiative and WCPA Japan hosted a side event that discussed the richness and diversity of Sacred Natural Sites in Asia. Steps were also taken to establish as Asian Sacred Natural Sites network. Sacred Natural sites achieved a high profile overall over the course of the Asian Parks Congress and received substantial mention within the outputs of the meeting.

The key questions of the side event were:
  1. To what extent do Sacred Natural Sites form the backbone of many protected areas in Asia, e.g. their cultural, spiritual and philosophical underpinnings?
  2. What is the modern relevance of Ancestral Sacred Natural Sites to Protected Areas and how can this be better recognised and the traditional guardians be engaged?
  3. How can we improve management effectiveness, governance and equity of Sacred Natural Sites within and outside government protected areas in Asia?
For more information, please see a full article on the event here

Monday, November 18, 2013

Field Visit to Sariska Tiger Reserve - Alwar, Rajasthan, India

Three team members from the NJ India office (Arpitha Kodiveri, Revati Pandya and Vaneesha Jain) visited the offices of the NGO Krapavis, Rajasthan, and also several villages inside Sariska Tiger Reserve. 

On 13th November, 2013, Arpitha, Revati and Vaneesha discussed the following issues with Aman Singh, who is running the NGO Krapavis based out of Alwar, Rajasthan:

  • The status of relocation in 5 villages in Sariska Tiger Reserve as per the Relocation plan prepared by the Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Jaipur, in November 2009. It appears that relocated communities are not given adequate ownership rights over the new land, which needs further looking into. Further, it has come to light that in the relocation process of the village Kiraska, residents were forced to surrender any land they owned outside Kiraska to the Government as well, which is in complete violation of both enacted law and basic principles of fairness. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Warsaw Climate Change Conference

The 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change takes place in Warsaw, Poland from 11-22 November 2013. Parties to the convention will continue to negotiate a new global climate agreement, which they intend to adopt in 2015 and implement no later than 2020. The Convention aims to keep global temperature rise below the critical 2oC threshold. The talks take place amid increasing evidence of rising greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and the need for urgent action: 
  • The World Meteorological Organisation recently reported that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new highs in 2012, and an upward and accelerating trend is continuing which is driving climate change. 
  • In the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Fifth Assessment Report: The Physical Science Basis, it was shown that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists calculated a carbon budget and revealed that nearly half of all the carbon dioxide that can be safely emitted without raising temperatures above a dangerous 2oC had already been emitted by 2011, and the entire budget could be used up by 2040. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

National Consultation on Forest Rights Act and Protected Areas, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi

Source: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/rights-without-benefits 
From 11th to 12th November, 2013, Apritha Kodiveri, Vaneesha Jain and Revati Pandya (of the NJ India office) attended a two day consultation aimed at discussing Community Forest Rights under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act (Forest Rights Act), 2006 (FRA). Members from various groups working on FRA issues in Maharashtra, Orissa, Gujarat and Karnataka attended, and updates and status of its implementation from respective states were shared and discussed. One of the overarching issues was the lack of implementation of processing claims largely based on administrative setbacks. Different state’s Forest Department officials’ individual desires for implementation of the FRA or processing of claims appear to be a major hurdle. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Heart of Borneo and Forever Sabah

The International Conference on Heart of Borneo’s Natural Capital: Unleashing their Potential for Sustainable Growth in Sabah was held in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia from 11-12 November 2013. 

The two-day conference explored the future of the Heart of Borneo, including a focus on: REDD+; spatial planning to enhance conservation efforts; the role of NGOs; training and capacity building; research needs; and communication. 

The meeting had a dedicated session on Forever Sabah, a 25-year initiative to support Sabah’s transition to a diversified, equitable green economy. Speakers presented on Forever Sabah’s seven core areas, namely: forests; watersheds and communities; renewable energy; sustainable food and agriculture; waste water and soil; community tourism; and the Forever Sabah Institute. Natural Justice is the legal advisor to Forever Sabah and, in that context, Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) presented on the Scientific Consensus Statement

Saturday, November 9, 2013

ICCA meeting for Southern and East Africa discusses ICCA examples from the region

On 8 November Natural Justice and the ICCA Consortium co-convened a meeting near Cape Town, South Africa, on Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Controlled Territories and Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in Southern and East Africa, to identify examples and best practices from the region. 

Following a comprehensive introduction to ICCAs and their recognition under relevant international law by Natural Justice, two expert panels introduced and discussed ten individual examples of ICCAs in the region. 

On the basis of experiences from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania, the 25 participants from the region discussed various strategies and best practices for communities to protect their ICCAs. The discussions revolved around management of ICCAs, documentation of ICCAs, and strategic litigation. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Research Questions Effectiveness of RSPO Standards

"Members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are violating the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in the forests and peatlands of tropical nations worldwide, according to a new research publication released today. The study details the performance of 16 oil palm operations, many run by RSPO members, reporting on their failure to uphold human rights and environmental standards required.

'Since its founding eight years ago, the RSPO has adopted good standards, but too many member companies are not delivering on these paper promises,' said Norman Jiwan, Executive Director of Transformasi Untuk Keadilan Indonesia, a human rights organisation based in Jakarta. 'The RSPO could still meet this challenge if it provides remedies for member companies’ impacts on communities, but for that we need much stricter enforcement. The organisation’s very credibility is at stake.'

The book 'Conflict or consent? The oil palm sector at a crossroads' details cases in which palm oil producers have failed to obtain permission from communities - a process required by the RSPO based on the UN mandate that is known as free, prior and informed consent. The findings also support accounts of the destructive impact that the palm oil developments are having on indigenous peoples and local communities." To download the report, edited by Marcus Colchester and Sophie Chao (Forest Peoples Programme), and related materials, please visit: http://www.forestpeoples.org/press-room.

Source: Forest Peoples Programme Press Release, 6 November 2013

Africa Regional Symposium for Community Land and Natural Resources Protection

From 5-7 November, 30 pioneering community and civil society experts gathered in the !khwa ttu San community centre outside Cape Town, South Africa, for the first Africa Regional Symposium for Community Land and Natural Resources Protection. 

The Symposium, co-convened by Natural Justice and Namati, facilitated an exchange of best practices on community empowerment for strengthening land and natural resources rights among twelve African countries and more than two dozen communities. 

The event set out to meet three interrelated objectives: 

1. Share best practices, tools and strategies for empowered community land and natural resource management and protection; 

2. Support each other to confront local and/or national challenges to community land and natural resources claims; and 

3. Brainstorm new and innovative forms of legal empowerment and build a cross-disciplinary community of practice that fosters continued dialogue and learning. 

National Conference on Indigenous Peoples' Land Rights Held in Sabah, Malaysia

Credit: Colin Nicholas
From 6-7 November 2013, a national land conference was held in Sabah, Malaysia, to further explore Indigenous peoples' land rights following from the National Land Inquiry report of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM). The conference was organised by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS, the national Indigenous peoples' network of Malaysia) and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS Trust) with the support of the Rainforest Foundation Norway and Rainforest Action Network.

The conference included several expert presentations, panel discussions, and a resolution based on a number of constructive recommendations suggested by participants. Topics addressed included, among others: Indigenous peoples' rights in international law (with particular emphasis on self-determination and free, prior and informed consent), jurisprudence on Indigenous peoples' land rights, issues with conflicting claims in forest reserves, conservation areas and palm oil plantations, and mechanisms for redress and remedy such as tribunals, national commissions, and compensation schemes. For detailed real-time coverage of the conference, please visit JOAS' Facebook page and Twitter feed. Additional coverage is available in Free Malaysia Today.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

International Workshop on ICCAs in Thika, Kenya

On November 5th 2013, Maya Sikand from Natural Justice attended and presented at an International Workshop on ICCAs in Thika, Kenya. The workshop was hosted by the Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Participants included representatives from community organisations from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for the different organizations to share lessons from the ICCA-related work they are doing across the world. 

Maya Sikand gave a presentation on International Law and Policy Frameworks and ICCAs. Information about the various international mechanisms that exist was welcomed as just one tool of many to support and protect ICCAs. Different participants were able to connect the international frameworks to projects or developments in their own countries. For example, some had engaged with REDD+ or the Nagoya Protocol. Other participants came from countries that have put in place laws to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and have participated in the work of implementing these laws. This presentation was followed by a discussion led by Adam Hussein Adam on the national legal context for Kenya, taking much from his recent report on the legal context for Sacred Natural sites in Kenya. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

First Peoples release Indigenous Rights Risk Report

First Peoples Worldwide
First Peoples have released their Indigenous Rights Risk Report. The report analyses 52 US-based extractive companies and 370 oil, gas, and mining sites that are situated on or near indigenous peoples' lands. Given findings that 92% of sites posed a medium to high risk to shareholders, the report proposes a new risk assessment tool. The report documents how conflicts or tensions between companies and indigenous communities can cause great losses. For example, one company First Peoples analyzed was Southwestern Energy. Protests by activists at one of their sites was costing them $60,000 a day.

Only 5% of the companies analyzed had an indigenous peoples policy, pointing out a serious gap for communities, companies and shareholders. The report warns that the risks of not having an indigenous peoples policy or respecting their rights are continuing to increase as more and more indigenous peoples rights are incorporated into national and international legal frameworks. At the same time, extractive industries increasingly find sites on indigenous peoples lands. The report suggests that the report can be a risk analysis tool and platform for indigenous peoples and investors to work together as shareholders to pressure companies to both respect indigenous peoples rights and maximise shareholder returns. The report is available for download in English here.

South-South Exchange Mechanism

On Thursday October 31st Maya Sikand of Natural Justice attended a meeting of the South-South Exchange Mechanism at the Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo at the United Nations Office Nairobi. The UNEP South-South Exchange Mechanism is an online portal of case studies and solutions aimed at facilitating exchange and knowledge sharing on issues of sustainable development. Natural Justice have submitted a case study on Biocultural Community Protocols to the mechanism. Currently the case study is under expert review and should hopefully be included in the portal shortly. 

The main purpose of this meeting was to incorporate feedback from participating organizations into Phase II of the mechanism. Currently there are about 50 organizations globally working on case studies in diverse subject areas related to sustainable development, Academics review the cases, and it is suggested that Training Modules could be a potential next step. From the other organizations present it was suggested that a database to help connect organizations to relevant funders would also be a useful step for Phase II.

Natural Justice Attends Side Event During UN GA on the Role, Protection and Effective Participation of Human Rights Defenders in Development

On 29 October 2013, Eli Makagon attended a side-event held by the International Service for Human Rights at United Nations headquarters in New York. The side-event, held during the UN's ongoing 68th General Assembly meeting, was entitled The Role, Protection and Effective Participation of Human Rights Defenders in Development, and brought together panelists, including Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, to discuss the issues. The panelists noted that very often, human rights defenders are people from Indigenous and local communities who are facing threats from large scale development. Among other things, Mr. Sulyandziga noted that international financial institutions such as the World Bank Group are an important factor in ensuring that the rights of Indigenous peoples are respected, as many of the major corporations involved in development are attempting to obtain loans from those institutions. Ms. Sekaggya reported that there were some positive developments, such as Australia's mining assessment initiatives and Columbia's national hydrocarbon agency assessment, as well as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (link).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mining, Oil and Gas at MindSpeak Business Club

http://basetitanium.com/education-and-media/photo-library
On Saturday October 26th Maya Sikand from Natural Justice attended a public forum in Nairobi about the Voluntary Principles and the growing mining, oil and gas sectors in Kenya. The meeting was hosted by business analyst Aly-Khan Saatchu's monthly business club, Mindspeak. The panel featured Cliff Otega, a Kenyan mining analyst, His Excellency David Angell, Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, Evelyn Samba, Deputy Secretary to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and Simon Wall, Corporate Affairs Manager of Base Titanium. The meeting drew an audience of over 200 people.

The challenges for the new and growing mining sector in Kenya and the opportunities for guidelines such as the Voluntary Principles were discussed by each of the panelists. Cliff Otega pointed out to a room full of young people hoping to benefit from this new industry, that the extractives industry doesn't actually provide many employment opportunities as it is so capital and machinery intensive. Kenya should not look to this as the sector that will transform the economy for youth. However, all the panelists agreed that the multiplier effects, including infrastructure and services development will bring benefits to the region.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Seminar on Human Rights and Environment

The Asia Europe Foundation had its 13th Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights from 21 - 23 October 2013 at Copenhagen, Denmark. This year has an interesting theme for discussion on “Human Rights and The Environment”. Around 140 participants including diplomats, members of national human rights institutions, lawyers, journalists and civil society representatives from 49 countries have participated in the three day seminar on human rights and environment. The seminar was inaugurated by the Environment Minister of Denmark. The seminar has four working groups to discuss in detail on the following areas such as

Rights-Based REDD+ Dialogue II: Realizing REDD+ Safeguards


Natural Justice together with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee hosted the Rights-Based REDD+ Dialogue II: Realizing REDD+ Safeguards, on 18-19th October 2013 in Cape Town South Africa. This was the second of such dialogues, the first was held in November 2012. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a mitigation policy under the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The REDD+ safeguards are mechanisms designed to reduce identified risks and prevent undesirable outcomes of REDD+ and some also aim to enhance the positive environmental and social impacts of REDD+. 

REDD+ stakeholders from civil society organisations, Indigenous Peoples, government, United Nations, and REDD+ project developers participated in the dialogues. The dialogues began discussing national REDD+ programmes in Southern and Central Africa, with a country focus on activities in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A REDD+ project session scrutinised existing REDD+ projects in Africa and heard a project developers perspective on REDD+. Indigenous Peoples engagement in REDD+ was explored and lessons from global case studies discussed. Strategies and tools to engage in REDD+ including the potential of Biocultural Community Protocols as a tool to enhance free, prior and informed consent were considered. The on-going World Bank Safeguards Review process was highlighted and its relevance to REDD+ examined. Governance issues were discussed with a focus on the role of independent monitoring. The final sessions explored ways to positively influence the REDD+ safeguards at the international level and discussed messages for the Warsaw Climate Change Conference UNFCCC COP19.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

GPS Training in Odisha



On the 19th and 20th of October 2013, a community-level workshop was held on the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) device to map community resources, to be claimed under the Forest Rights Act of 2006. The training was held in the village of Niapania in Keonjhar district in Odisha, India. Organized by Keonjhar Integrated Rural Development and Training Institute (KIRDTI), an NGO based in Keonjhar, in collaboration with Natural Justice, the workshop saw the participation of around 40 persons from different blocks within Keonjhar as well as from other districts of Orissa. Stella James and Kishore Kumar Patnaik (Fellows, Natural Justice) participated in the workshop and assisted in the coordination of the workshop. 

Mr Adikand Ojha from Bhubaneswar, who acted as the resource person, started with a brief description of the GPS device to the participants, as well as of the advantages of using it. One of the advantages pointed out to the villagers was that while earlier people used to draw maps freehand, or use complicated manual methods of measurement, with a GPS, measurement of land becomes simpler and much more accurate. Moreover, once measurements are taken, the GPS also allows one to see the roads and other waypoints from any part of the world. 

Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) News Digest

Natural Justice's partner, the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, produces a weekly digest that provides you with information on recent developments and publications related to access and benefit-sharing. The News Digest is divided into several categories which makes it easier to filter the information you really need. These include: Intellectual Property, Sustainable Development, Forests, Agriculture, Traditional Knowledge, New Publications, Upcoming Meetings und IISD Meeting Reports. If you are interested in receiving the news digest please subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/E9aAP.

Second edition of The Living Convention is now available in English and Spanish


The Living Convention provides a range of the most important provisions relating to the linkages between Indigenous peoples and local communities and, among other things, their territories, lands, natural resources, and knowledge systems. It sets them out in an ordered manner, grouping similar provisions under the same heading to enable the reader to quickly assess the extent of international law relating to specific issues. 

The Living Convention is divided into three parts:

Part I sets out the rationale and methodology of the research undertaken to develop the compendium in Part II.

Part II contains a compendium of internationally recognized rights that support the integrity and resilience of Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ territories and other social-ecological systems. 

Part III sets out a number of key questions concerning, for example, the utility of integrated rights approaches, how international law can be reformed, and how national governments can better uphold their international commitments. It then suggests initial activities that could further deepen the analysis and ways to address the current weaknesses in the development and implementation of international law. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Village Meeting on the Forest Rights Act in Odisha

On 15th and 16th October 2013, Stella James (Fellow, Natural Justice) attended a village meeting held at the Bhudabhuin Community Centre in the Sundergarh district of the state of Odisha, India. The meeting revolved around a discussion of the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA), a landmark legislation in terms of granting customary rights over resources to adivasis (tribals) and other forest dwellers. The meeting was attended by approximately 60 persons, from different villages, some people travelling many kilometers by foot through thick forests, walking almost an entire day to attend the meeting. 

The meeting was facilitated by Jitendra Sahu, an advocate who has been working in Odisha on successful implementation of FRA in many areas of Odisha. Jitubhai, as he is popularly known, talked about the significant difference between the FRA and previous legislations on forests. In his own words, the crucial distinction is the inclusion of the word ‘right’ between the words ‘forest’ and ‘act’, thus finally marking a departure from the previously parochial understanding of all forest land belonging to the State. He emphasized how adivasis and other forest dwellers are now legally ‘owners’ and ‘right-holders’ of the forests in which they live, and not merely watchmen. Jitubhai also deftly explained some of the main provisions of the Act, without bogging the villagers with too much jargon or technicality, which may have tended to dissuade enthusiastic participation. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seventeenth SBSTTA Meeting Enters Final Day of Panel Discussions, With Drafting of "Conclusions" to Begin Thursday

As the seventeenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) continues in Montreal, Parties and Observers continue to address the Strategic Goals and Aichi Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The meeting is being conducted with a combination of short speeches by members of panels who are selected based on their expertise in the Strategic Goal being addressed, followed by interventions on the part of Parties and Observers. This format means that some interventions with regard to a specific Strategic Goal are not able to be heard during the plenary and are pushed to the following day. On Thursday, 17 October, the agenda calls for the drafting of "conclusions and recommendations for further work." (Agenda link here.)

Thus far, Natural Justice has been involved in the SBSTTA meeting in several ways. On Monday, Eli Makagon spoke at a side event held by the CBD Alliance regarding a proposed ABS regulation to implement the Nagoya Protocol in the European Union (EU) currently pending before the European Council (for further information, see links on this page). On Tuesday, 15 October, Eli, with the assistance of Nele Marien, coordinator of the CBD Alliance, briefed delegates from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) on the EU's proposed regulation, noting that it severely limits the Nagoya Protocol's scope by limiting its application to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge accessed after the Nagoya Protocol enters into force for the EU. On Wednesday, 16 October, Natural Justice and the Global Forest Coalition will co-host, along with the ICCA Consortium, a side event on meeting the Aichi Targets. In addition, Natural Justice will be attending several other side events as well as the ongoing plenary sessions. For more immediate updates and further information on the meeting, check out Natural Justice's Twitter feed online at https://twitter.com/naturaljustice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Seventeenth Meeting of the SBSTTA Begins in Montreal, Canada

On October 14, 2013, country delegates, representatives of Indigenous peoples and local communities, and other participants came together in Montreal, Canada for the seventeenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). This meeting, chaired by Mr. Gemedo Dalle Tussie (Ethiopia), is particularly noteworthy because it involves an entirely new meeting format. In the past, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) prepared draft recommendations that the Parties attending the SBSTTA meeting then considered throughout the meeting's course. This year, however, the CBD Secretariat did not prepare any draft recommendations. Instead, the first three days of the 17th meeting will consist of expert panels addressing issues on the SBSTTA agenda. Summaries of the discussions held during those panels will then be created in order to draft "conclusions, and if appropriate, recommendations." (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/17/1/Add.2, para. 6(c)). The effectiveness and ramifications of this new format remain to be seen, and some countries have called into question whether the decision to change the format conforms with the decisions regarding SBSTTA adopted during prior Conferences of the Parties.

On the agenda for this meeting are 2 main items: Item 3 -- Facilitating the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets through scientific and technical means; and Item 4 -- Assessing the effects of the types of measures taken in accordance with the provisions of the Convention. With regard to Item 3, only the first four Strategic Goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (Goals A-D) will be discussed. Thus, Strategic Goal E, and its crucial Target 18 regarding traditional knowledge of and customary use of biological resources by indigenous peoples and local communities will dot be addressed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

African BCP Initiative Meeting

On Sunday October 13th Natural Justice hosted a meeting of the African Biocultural Community Protocol Initiative’s Kenyan partners in Nairobi. Attendees included representatives from the following organizations: Kivulini Trust, the Ogiek People’s Development Programme, Save Lamu, LIFE Africa Network, the Enderois Welfare Council and the Nairobi People’s Settlement Network. 

The meeting opened with a discussion facilitated by Natural Justice’s Gino Cocchiaro about what a BCP is and how it can help communities to access the law, among other benefits. This was a chance for more experienced partners to share lessons, and new faces to learn more about the process. The rest of the meeting was dedicated to conversations surrounding the presentations of two guest speakers – Rebecca Wangui and Ken Otieno from Reconcile. Rebecca spoke about integrating gender concerns into land issues, giving an overview of the status of women in various Kenyan land laws. Ken’s presentation spurred lively conversations about the status of the Community Lands Bill in Kenya, its significance, and how communities can give input.

Friday, October 11, 2013

ICCA Consortium and Natural Justice at WILD 10

From the 8th to the 10th of October the ICCA Consortium representatives and Natural Justice attended the 10th World Wilderness Congress, Wild 10, in Salamanca, Spain. Approximately 1500 people, including indigenous peoples and local communities, conservation organizations, government and business representatives attended the conference during which experiences were shared on conservation measures across the globe. An Indigenous and Community Lands and Seas Forum was also held during which members of the ICCA Consortium spoke of their territories and resources and the challenges faced to protect and conserve them. 

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) was invited to speak about community protocols and highlight examples as to how such protocols are being used to foster dialogue and agreement between communities and protected area authorities. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

International Meeting of the ICCA Consortium

The Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA) Consortium held its annual international meeting, including its General Assembly from the 4th-6th of October, in Valdeavellano de Tera, Spain. 

Natural Justice is a founding member of the ICCA Consortium and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) and Lesle Jansen (Natural Justice) are its International Policy Adviser and Co-ordinator for Southern and East Africa respectively. 

During the 3 days, members of the Consortium from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe shared their experiences on work with ICCAs. Among the discussions were experiences from Philippines and Europe in which communities have been able to successfully protect their ICCAs.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Save Lamu Forum on Human and Environmental Rights Monitoring

On Saturday October 5th Steph Booker and Maya Sikand from Natural Justice presented at a Forum hosted by Save Lamu on Human and Environmental Rights Monitoring in Lamu Town. Participants of the meeting included members of the Lamu community from the Islands and Mainland as well as representatives from communities along the LAPSSET corridor. 

Natural Justice gave a presentation on 'What is Human and Environmental Rights Monitoring?'. Participants then separated into groups according to region, and began documenting changes they have witnessed in their areas. This was an important first step in collecting information, and understanding what sort of questions are asked during human rights monitoring. It is hoped that this forum is the beginning of a wider effort at human rights monitoring training for community organisations along the LAPSSET corridor. Such documentation is an important tool when making a case about human or environmental rights abuses against companies or the government.

Presentations were also made by Sarah Singh from Accountability Counsel and Mohammed Ramadhan from the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights on national and international grievance mechanisms. Save Lamu have initiated creative ways to bring all the information about changes in the communities to one central place, for example through text messages.

Introduction of The Wildlife Protection (Amendment) BILL, 2013 in India

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The Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was recently introduced in India in order to facilitate stricter enforcement of laws to protect wildlife, in view of the increase in wildlife crime. The proposed amendments, as listed in the Statement of Objects and Reasons, relate to prohibition on use of animal traps except under certain circumstances, requirement of a grant of permit for scientific research, increase in punishment for wildlife offenses, making exemptions to allow certain activities such as grazing or movement of livestock and bona fide use of drinking and household water by local communities, and protection of hunting rights of the Scheduled Tribes in the Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Lists of flora and fauna are sought to be inserted for purposes of regulation of international trade under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in order to fulfill India’s international obligation to bring in necessary legislative changes to facilitate implementation of the CITES given that India is a party to the said Convention.

The proposed Amendments have raised certain apprehensions. It has been mentioned that consultations with the Gram Sabha will take place before declaring any Scheduled Area as a National Park. However, provisions containing the requirement for monitoring of such consultations are missing, and this is liable to lead to severe gaps in accountability.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Eighth Meeting of Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity Being Held Montreal

From 7 to 11 October 2013, the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Working Group) will hold its eighth meeting in Montreal, Canada. Several important items are on the agenda this year, including whether to adopt the terminology "indigenous peoples and local communities" (Agenda Item 5); consideration of a draft plan of action on customary sustainable use of biological diversity (Agenda Item 4(a)); consideration of best practice guidelines regarding repatriation of traditional knowledge (Agenda Item 4(b); and potential revision of tasks 7, 10 and 12 of the programme of work on implementation of Article 8(j) (Agenda Item 4(c)). In addition, a number of side events will be held during the meeting addressing a wide variety of topics and issues relevant to Article 8(j) and related provisions of the Convention. Eli Makagon of Natural Justice will be attending and presenting on Natural Justice's work in this area. For more information, see the meeting documents, and follow IISD's coverage of the event, as well as Natural Justice's blog and Twitter feed

Friday, October 4, 2013

Advanced Training on Business and Human Rights and Grievance Mechanisms

From 30 September to 3 October 2013, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice supported, and participated in Advanced Training on Business and Human Rights and Grievance Mechanisms in Naivasha, Kenya, hosted by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO). Attended by over 20 participants from around Africa, the training included: 
  • An introduction to grievance mechanisms, including discussions on judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms, the role of National Human Rights Institutions and the African Human Rights System; 
  • Preparing complaints, with experts from SOMO and Accountability Counsel presenting on the OECD Guidelines and international financial institutions;
  • Writing and filing complaints; and,
  • Examination of particular case studies. 
This training complemented similar training sessions in Indonesia and Mexico. To find out more information on SOMO's training on human rights and grievance mechanisms, see here.

Workshop on the Forests Rights Act in Odisha

 A workshop was held on the “Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and Amendment Rules 2012” for Panchayatraj Representatives at Laxmanpur Block Office, Laxmanpur, District Sambalpur, Odisha, India on October 3rd 2013. The workshop was organized by Loksaktimukti Sanghathan, a non-registered organisaton, in collaboration with Vasundhara, Bhubaneswar and Natural Justice. The Laxmanpur Block Development Officer was present at the workshop on behalf of the government. Mr Ananto Panda from Loksaktimukti Sangathan briefly explained the background and purpose of Forest rights act and rules in the workshop. Ms Pspanjali Satapathy from Vasundhara organization elaborated on the entire act, its rules and usage. She opined in the workshop that for the first time in India, the forest rights act recognizes people who live in and depend on the forest. The maximum number of Adivasis live in the forest area and they depend on it for their regular livelihood. Adivasis naturally live with the forest and save the forest. They also use forest products for their common diseases. The Adivasis and Non Adivasis who depend on and live in the forest can apply under this act for recognition of their rights over their homestead, cultivable land, non cultivable land and use of forest products. 

Environmentalism Workshop in Himachal, India


From 27th September to 3rd October, Stella James (Natural Justice) attended a workshop on Environmentalism in India: Building Perspectives and Sharing Strategies which was conducted by the Sambhaavnaa Institute of Public Policy (Sambhaavnaa) and Corporate Accountability Desk, at the Sambhaavnaa campus in Kandbari village, Himachal Pradesh, India. 

The programme began with a field visit to Nalagarh, along with activists of Himdhara, an environment research and action group in Himachal. Nalagarh is an industrial town at the foothills of the Himalayas, described by some as the “Himalayan wastebin”. With many major industries in the area, the river which is the lifeline of the town has been polluted with waste of all sorts including surgical equipment from pharmaceutical industries. Moreover extensive unchecked sand mining from the river bed has lowered the depth of the water to almost a quarter of its previous levels. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Civil Society Newsletter on Biodiversity Features Two Articles by Natural Justice

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is known for being relatively open to civil society engagement. As just one example, the CBD Alliance and CBD Secretariat jointly produce a newsletter called [square brackets] ahead of major CBD meetings. The eighth issue has just been released to coincide with the upcoming meetings of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (7-11 October) and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (14-18 October).

This issue of [square brackets] includes articles on "The Nagoya Protocol and the emergence of biocultural rights" by former Natural Justice Association member Kabir Bavikatte, on the proposal for the CBD to adopt the term "indigenous peoples" by Caroline de Jong (Forest Peoples Programme) and Holly Jonas (Natural Justice), and on the need for strengthened implementation of the CBD by S. Faizi (CBD Alliance Chairperson). The eighth issue of [square brackets] can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Paper on Resource Conflict Prevention References Community Protocols

A new paper by the Quaker United Nations Office entitled "Building peace around water, land and food: Policy and practice for preventing conflict" highlights the fundamental importance of securing natural resources on which our survival and well-being depend in the face of climate change and increasing conflict and competition over resources. It also focuses on the need to strengthen peace-building skills among actors at all levels (including effective communication and engagement with decision-making processes and constructive dispute prevention and resolution) and cites relevant international instruments that can help prevent conflict through inclusive natural resource governance and management.

One of the case studies explored the development and use of a biocultural community protocol to negotiate community resource rights in the Potato Park in Peru. The paper also references Natural Justice's Biocultural Community Protocols: A toolkit for community facilitators and the 2012 special edition of the Participatory Learning and Action Journal on community protocols, rights and consent, which was co-edited by Natural Justice, among others (also available in Spanish). Please download and share this new paper here.