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 ( 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 ( 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:
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

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:

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).