Thursday, January 31, 2013

Landmark Ruling Against Indigenous Title in Guyana

The High Court of Guyana has controversially ruled in support of a mining concession on titled Indigenous lands, setting a dangerous precedent for the already marginalised Indigenous communities of Guyana. The case was brought by residents of Isseneru village who received title over the land in 2007 in terms of the Amerindian Act of 2006. The court held that as the mining permits were received before the Act came into operation they were not bound by its provisions. 

In a press statement, the Isseneru Village Council stated that they are “deeply disappointed and worried with this ruling and what it means to our village and to Amerindian communities in general. On the ground it has serious environmental and social impacts for us. The miners have, for example, brought with them problems related to drugs and prostitution. At the higher level, we feel that when the High Court tells us that we have no rights to decide and control what takes place on our land, then the land is not ours.…Just Friday, when inquiring at the office of the GGMC [Guyana Geology and Mines Commission], we learnt that our whole land is covered with mining concessions. Yet, the government has not informed us about this.” 

Find out more through the Forest Peoples’ Programme press statement in English here and in Spanish here. The Isseneru Village Council press statement can be accessed here

Monday, January 28, 2013

Major Publication on Multi-Stakeholder Processes

Natural Justice’s co-facilitator of the African BCP Initiative, ETC COMPAS, has released a significant new publication, “Power Dynamics in Multi-Stakeholder Processes: A Balancing Act,” together with six other Dutch development NGOs. The publication, which has been released together with a web portal with relevant resources, summarises lessons learned from 12 multi-stakeholder process case studies in eight nations across Africa, Asia and Central America. The report includes documentation from two biocultural community protocol processes in Ghana and Kenya that Natural Justice supported. The web portal includes country case reports, videos and evaluation reports from the research programme. 

From the report, “this publication is a result of the Thematic Learning Programme (TLP) ‘Strategically dealing with power dynamics in multistakeholder processes’ (2011-2012) in which seven Dutch development NGOs investigated how they could address and incorporate a deeper understanding of these power dynamics in their work. This topic is important, because MSPs involve issues in complex contexts: land conflicts, natural resource conflicts or farmers at the bottom of the value chain. MSPs are not always harmonious; the stakes are generally higher for some than for others and the various actors may not necessarily have the same level of representation at the table. This TLP aimed to draw lessons for the different organizations involved and to enable them to deal better with power dynamics in MSPs.” 

The portal can be accessed here. The entire report can be downloaded here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

UN Human Rights Bodies' Jurisprudence on Indigenous Peoples

In the rapidly changing field of international Indigenous rights, it can be difficult to track new developments. To address this gap, the Forest Peoples Programme has been monitoring all developments around the rights of Indigenous peoples in UN human rights bodies in a series entitled “A Compilation of UN Treaty Body Jurisprudence, the Recommendations of the Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures, and the Advice of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” They recently released the 5th volume in this compilation, which covers the jurisprudence of UN human rights bodies pertaining to Indigenous peoples from 2011-2012 and was compiled and edited by Fergus MacKay. 

The publication can be accessed here. For further information, see the volumes from 2009-2010, 2007-2008, 2005-2006 and 1993-2004.

Namati Hiring

Natural Justice-partner Namati is hiring! Namati, which develops, implements and evaluates models for delivering quality legal aid at scale, has three positions open: Director of Finance and Administration; Director of Communications and Advocacy; and Director of Research and Evaluation. Completed applications should be emailed to by January 31, 2013. 

Learn more about the positions, and Namati, here. Follow Namati on Twitter here, like them on Facebook here, and subscribe to their Youtube channel here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

FAO Journal on UN Guidelines on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Land Tenure Journal’s latest edition examines the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. The Guidelines, which were recently endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security, are still widely unknown and the four articles in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal seek to explain their contents, their development and the strategies for implementing them. 

The journal articles can be downloaded here. Find other related news via the Traditional Knowledge Bulletin here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Protocolos comunitarios bioculturales: Kit de herramientas para facilitadores comunitarios

Natural Justice acaba de lanzar la versión en español del "Protocolos comunitarios bioculturales: Kit de herramientas para facilitadores comunitarios". Desarrollado a través de las Iniciativas Regionales sobre Protocolos Comunitarios Bioculturales y traducido del original por cortesía de UICN-Sur, el kit de herramientas está compuesto por cuatro partes: 

  • Parte I: Comprender y utilizar el kit de herramientas 
  • Parte II: Documentar y Desarrollar un protocolo comunitario biocultural 
  • Parte III: Utilizar un protocolo comunitario biocultural 
  • Parte IV: Reflexionar, Informar y Revisar 

El kit de herramientas es destinado principalmente para el uso por Pueblos Indígenas y comunidades locales con el apoyo de organizaciones de confianza, cuando sea apropiado. El kit de herramientas en español está disponible para su descarga en un solo documento o en componentes más pequeños en el sitio web dedicado a los protocolos comunitarios, junto con una serie de recursos adicionales en inglés, tales como módulos de aprendizaje sobre los principales marcos jurídicos, publicaciones y películas.

Un agradecimiento especial a UICN-Sur a través del Proyecto Regional GEF/PNUMA "Fortalecimiento de los Regímenes de Acceso a los Recursos Genéticos y Distribución de Beneficios en América Latina y El Caribe".

Paudibhuyan Community Meeting on Extractives - Odisha

In a meeting of the Paudibhuyan Community held in Kuanar Village, Keonjhar District, Odisha, India on 11 January 2012, community members raised serious concerns about mining and its impact on the environment and Indigenous communities in neighbouring areas. The government has begun to allot land in the area for prospecting and participants especially expressed concern that the sacred Khandadhar Mountain would be threatened. A company has begun erecting pillars in the area without any community consultation and without sharing information on the potential impact of mining on the local environment, community livelihoods and culture. Keonjhar Integrated Rural Development and Training Institute (KIRDTI), a local NGO, and Sankar Pani of Natural Justice participated in the meeting and suggested steps for how the community can utilise various legal instruments to protect community resources, including: 
  • Determining which companies have been allotted permits and clearances for mining in the region; 
  • Seeking the declaration of Khandadhar Mountain as a Heritage Site under the Biodiversity Act; 
  • Seeking the declaration of the region as Eco-Sensitive Area under the Environment Protection Act; 
  • Pursuing the recognition of community rights and habitat rights for the community as Indigenous Communities under the Forest Rights Act.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Report on CT REDD+ Dialogue

The outcomes of the Rights-based REDD+ dialogue held in Cape Town in November 2012 have been released in a new report. The dialogue was hosted by Natural Justice with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation for Southern Africa and the Open Society Iniative for Southern Africa. Issues of concern regarding Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) activities on the African continent included the limited participation of forest-dependent communities, lack of appropriate REDD+ information, the diversity and complexity of safeguard standards which could increase communities reliance upon outsiders and experts, insufficient or lacking grievance and compliance mechanisms, limited gender awareness, that communities may not be aware of their rights, and that existing rights may not be enforced. 

Participants felt that REDD+ could offer opportunities to Indigenous peoples and local communities including enhanced participation and representation, the chance to call for greater rights especially regarding land tenure, and to seek independent monitoring of REDD+. A post-dialogue analysis of the potential of biocultural community protocols (BCPs) to address rights-based concerns within REDD+ raised during the dialogue suggests that BCPs may have the potential to address some of the key REDD+ challenges faced by forest-dependent communities. While BCPs are no panacea, they could enhance the capacity of communities to articulate their values, customs, and rights if they decide to engage with the REDD+ mechanism. 

The report can be downloaded here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Animated Film on REDD+

The Global Canopy Programme has released an updated version of “An Introduction to REDD”, described as "a short animated film that aims to explain REDD+ to non-expert audiences in a clear and succinct way."

Find out more about the film here, including versions in French, Portuguese and Spanish.

ICCA Consortium Reports from IUCN Congress and CBD COP11 Available

Two participants' reports are now available from the ICCA Consortium that detail the events and outcomes of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress (IUCN WCC), held in Jeju in September 2012, and the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11), held in Hyderabad in October 2012. Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) co-authored the reports in her role as the Consortium's International Policy Assistant.

The IUCN WCC report is available here and more information about the ICCA Consortium's activities in Jeju can be explored here. The CBD COP11 report is available here; more information about the Consortium's activities in Hyderabad can be found here; and an overview of key COP11 outcomes for Indigenous peoples and local communities is available here.

UN Resolution on Legal Aid

The United Nations Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice has unanimously adopted a resolution for the groundbreaking UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. The principles and guidelines are the first international instrument on legal aid.

According to analysis by Namati, some of the most significant components of the resolution are:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Global Indigenous Movement in 2012

Intercontinental Cry, an independent, volunteer-run magazine dedicated to Indigenous Peoples, has released “Indigenous Struggles 2012: Dispatches from the Fourth World.” The report, which is described as an annual briefing on the global Indigenous movement, is based on Intercontinental Cry’s monthly “Underreported Struggles” reports. 

The introduction marks the monumental advances made by the global Indigenous movement in 2012, noting “the Nasa’s expulsion of military personnel from their territory in Colombia, the group of villagers in India who enforced the destruction of Monsanto test crops, a dozen solid victories against the tar sands and associated pipelines, and let’s not forget the sudden appearance of #idlenomore in Canada and the equally sudden establishment of new Indigenous governments in Nigeria, Australia and West Papua.” It also notes some of the challenges and tragedies of 2012. 

The introduction can be accessed here. The full report can be downloaded directly here. Follow Intercontinental Cry on Twitter here and like them on Facebook here

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

LED Lab Projects Presented

From 7-8 January 2013, the Law, Environment and Design (LED) Lab hosted presentations on projects being offered to the design students of the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology for the coming semester. Around 40 students participated in the presentations from diverse backgrounds ranging from filmmakers to textile designers. The students will be working on two projects. One will be with the Gujjar community in Alwar, living in the Sariska Tiger reserve. The other will be with the Maldhari camel breeders in Kuttchh. 

The students will embark on their first field visit from 27 January - 3 February where they will work with community members on a participatory resource mapping process with the objective of presenting it as legal evidence and as a tool for future negotiations with external stakeholders. The students will also be looking at other outcomes from this experience. At the presentations, some proposed making a documentary on the entire experience. Others suggested the creation of cognitive maps to breakdown the rights and claims over the space that they occupy. The LED Lab will commence project work on 11 January with an immersion class introducing the students to the local context. The class will be taught by Kabir Bavikatte and Arpitha Kodiveri of Natural Justice and Deepta Sateesh  from Srishti.

More information on the projects and the presentation can be found here.

PULP Book on Balancing Economic and Environmental Interests in Africa

As economic growth rates are increasing across Africa, questions and challenges around balancing ‘development’ with environmental protection are gaining significance. To consider how different nations across Africa are addressing these challenges, the Pretoria University Law Press has released a book through the World Bank-funded Rule of Law in Africa Project entitled "The Balancing of Interests in Environmental Law in Africa" edited by Michael Faure and Willemien du Plessis. The book  combines the contributions of academics from 17 African nations on the way in which environmental and economic interests are balanced in their respective nations. Each country analysis in the book is presented according to a common framework to improve the comparability of the various nations’ approaches. The book also contains a critical comparative analysis by the editors. 

Find the abstract and information on ordering a hard copy of the book here. Download the book directly here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Paudibhuyan Community of Odisha to Draft BCP

The traditional leaders of the Paudibhuyan community of the Khandadhar region of Sundergarh District in Odisha gathered on 24 December 2012 to prepare a strategy to protect their territory and culture. The meeting was facilitated by Jivan Vikas, a local NGO, and Sankar Pani of Natural Justice. Paudibhuyan is one of the thirteen Primarily Vulnerable Tribal Groups of Odisha, and its population is sharply declining due to various reasons. The community is concentrated in small pockets in the Sundergarh, Keounjhar, Deogaarh and Dhenkanal Districts. At the meeting, the elders of the community shared their rich cultural heritage and traditional knowledge which they have fostered for generations and encouraged their successors to preserve and protect their traditional knowledge. They also raised concerns about various threats to common resources, especially emphasising the impact of mining on local bodies of water. 

The community leaders resolved to draft a biocultural community protocol to record their traditional rights and resources. They demanded recognition of their habitat rights and community rights under Forest Rights Act. They recalled their traditional herbal medicines and recited their traditional folk songs and emphasised the need to preserve them for future generations.

Maliasili Publication on Community Land Rights in Tanzania

Maliasili Initiatives has released a new publication entitled “Securing Community Land Rights: Experiences and insights from working to secure hunter gatherer and pastoralist land rights in northern Tanzania.” The report, published in partnership with two Maliasili partners in Tanzania, the Pastoral Women’s Council and Ujamaa Community Resource Team, seeks to answer vital questions around how marginalised communities can secure rights over land, resolve land conflicts fairly, and transform natural resource management.  

From the release, "the publication, which looks at local examples of these global challenges, combines a synopsis of the political economy of land rights in Tanzania, on-the-ground case studies by two of Maliasili Initiatives’ partners in Tanzania – the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) and Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT) – and insights from a one-day learning workshop. As part of its work to strengthen its partners’ capacity and to advance innovative and effective approaches to sustainable development in Africa, Maliasili Initiatives facilitated the learning event with PWC and UCRT to share and reflect upon their respective efforts to secure land rights, learn from each other in Tanzania and build on their achievements moving forward." 

Maliasili’s summary of the publication can be accessed here. The report can be downloaded directly here.

Review of BCPs for Pastoralists in India

Natural Justice partner Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan (LPPS) recently hosted a workshop for pastoralist communities who have drafted biocultural community protocols in India, with representatives from the Raika, the Banni buffalo breeders, Kutchi camel breeders, Jaisalmer camel breeders and the Kuruba shepherds of Karnataka attending. Ilse Köhler-Rollefson (League for Pastoral Peoples) prepared a blog post on the workshop. 

Per the post, “while the pastoralists unanimously underlined the importance of BCPs, it was also quite evident that a lot of uncertainty still surrounds the concept and that undertaking the process is by no means easy or fast. It requires time, resources and commitment for it to be of value. Nevertheless, BCPs are a crucial and even essential tool – for groups of marginalised people that traditionally have not attached that much importance to land ownership and are now losing out rapidly.” 

The blog post can be accessed here.

Guide to Investing in Locally Controlled Forestry

Per the press release, the guide “emerged out of 11 international dialogues that assembled more than 400 people to discuss how to make investing in locally controlled forestry (ILCF) happen. It is a primarily a tool for practical action – providing guidance on how to structure enabling investments and prepare the ground for asset investments that yield acceptable returns and reduced risk, not only for investors, but also for local forest right-holders, national governments and society at large. After providing strong justification for this approach, the guide sets out a framework for structuring investments with tactical advice for building the partnerships necessary for successful ILCF.” 

Read more about the guide here. Download the guide directly here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Main Outcomes of COP 18

The Doha Climate Change Conference, the 18th Conference of Parties (COP 18) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, held at the end of 2012 resulted in the “Doha Climate Gateway” decisions. The main outcomes were: 
  • A second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. However, fewer countries are participating, and they have only agreed to reduce their overall emissions by at least 18% below 1990 levels in the eight year period (2013-2020). Participating countries represent less than 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the emissions reduction commitments are insufficient to keep global warming below the 2C limit; 
  • Agreement to consider the creation of an international mechanism for loss and damage from extreme weather and slow onset climate impacts in developing countries; 
  • The need for a plan for long-term finance was reiterated. However, no firm commitments on scaling up finance towards the agreed US$ 100 billion a year were forthcoming. Climate finance pledges amounting to approximately US$ 10 billion were made by some European countries; 
  • Developed countries were urged to increase the ambition of their emission reduction targets and a work programme will be established to clarify pledges. 

Introducing the Land Matrix Project

The International Land Coalition, together with several international research institutes and development partners, has launched a ground-breaking new database to track global land deals. The database, entitled the Land Matrix Project, tracks deals made since 2003 in ‘developing’ nations transferring rights to use, control or own land for agricultural production, timber extraction, carbon trading, mineral extraction, conservation, and tourism. 

According to the press release, the Land Matrix Project “encourages citizens, researchers, governments and companies to provide data and improve the quality of and access to data regarding global land deals. The database allows users to access summaries, or conduct in-depth exploration of individual land deals, and it includes a visualization tool. The current version of the visualization tool is in a beta form, and feedback is encouraged. It presents visuals on the dynamics of transnational land deals, allows users to visualize relationships between investors and countries, and provides detail on deals across sectors.” 

Read more about the Land Matrix Project here. Access the Project’s beta website here.