Friday, January 31, 2014

ICMM Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples Workshop

From 29 to 30 January 2014, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice participated in a multi-stakeholder workshop hosted by the International Council on Mining and Metals in Johannesburg. Participants included Indigenous representatives, representatives from local and regional non-government and civil society organisations, academia and representatives from ICMM member companies throughout the continent. The event was co-facilitated by the Institute of Business and Human Rights.

The two-day workshop included:
  • An overview and introduction to the international policy landscape and ICMM's guidance policies on human rights and indigenous peoples;
  • A discussion of the challenges around human rights and indigenous peoples in the African context;
  • An examination of case studies from the region;
  • Prioritisation of challenges that were to be addressed.

Some of the central themes discussed included inclusive and representative engagement; grievance mechanisms; compensation; free prior and informed consent; corporate transparency; and benefit sharing.

The workshop was a unique opportunity to share ideas and experiences with a range of different stakeholders.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Call for Internship Applications: Natural Justice-India

Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is a non-profit organization registered in South Africa, with additional offices in India, Malaysia and New York City. Natural Justice’s mission is to facilitate full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities in the development and implementation of laws and policies relating to conservation and customary uses of biodiversity and the protection of associated cultural heritage. Natural Justice works at the local, regional, national, and international levels with a range of partners. 

Natural Justice (India) is inviting applications for two internship positions. The interns will be involved in projects related to work in Kutch, Gujarat, and the Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, both of which are part of a broader project supported by the Ford Foundation. Please note that both the positions are unpaid.

Location: The interns will be expected to work out of the Natural Justice office in Bangalore. 

Deadline for applications: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please see below for more information and application requirements for each position. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

UNIMAS Researchers to Respect Orang Asli’s Community Protocols

Holly Jonas (Natural Justice) was in Ba’kelalan, Sarawak, for the week of 19 January to participate in a workshop hosted by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) on its project “Implementing Telecentre Programme Among Orang Asli in West Malaysia”. This was a follow-up to a UNIMAS workshop from 6-7 January in Kuching, Sarawak, attended by Harry Jonas.

Participants at the workshop in Ba’kelalan included a team of UNIMAS researchers from a range of disciplines and around 40 community members from Indigenous (orang asli) villages in West Malaysia involved in the five-year project. The first day consisted of overviews of the project plans and proposed activities by UNIMAS’s project lead, Dr. Poline Bala (Department of Anthropology and Sociology), and other researchers who will lead activities related to information and communication technology, education, health, agriculture, traditional knowledge, and training.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oral History Certificate Course by Centre for Public History, Bangalore

History conquers the past, eradicating memory through 'official' accounts. Oral history is an attempt to break the silence of public memory - to look at the other side of silence and give back to the people who made and experienced history, a central place. Where researching history has become perusing archives, oral history provides a fresh and more comprehensive approach to history by using personal narratives and memories to understand historical events.

This is the perspective that Stella James, Fellow at Natural Justice had the opportunity to understand and analyze in attending a one-week certificate course on Oral History, conducted by the Centre for Public History(CPH) in Bangalore from 20th-25th January 2014.  Facilitated mainly by Indira Chowdhury, Director of CPH as well as Heather Goodall, Professor of History at the University of Technology, Sydney, the course was designed to act as a theoretical as well as practical introduction to concepts of oral history.

Through case-studies on the partition of India, the stolen generations of Australia, the "black ban" on Dutch ships in 1945-9 and women's movements across border post 1945, complex issues like the reliability of oral history, manipulation of memory, the role of the interviewee in the interpretation of history, appreciating the gaps in personal narratives, power dynamics and ethics were discussed. There was also guidance given on more practical aspects like the use of audio technology, editing and transcribing, curating, designing projects and interview guides etc.

A one-on-one counselling/mentoring session with Prof Goodall, who has worked extensively with indigenous communities, allowed Stella to brainstorm ideas on how the principles and practices of oral history can be useful to lawyers working with communities.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Community Protocols Featured in Land Watch Asia Skill-share

The Land Watch Asia campaign of the Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC) hosted a skill-share and learning session on 17 January at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. It took place immediately following the Asian People’s Tribunal and included participants from a range of ANGOC partners across the region. The session focused on sharing community experiences with threats to their land rights, sharing existing mechanisms for protecting land rights, and drawing out effective strategies for defending communities’ land rights.

Following opening remarks by facilitator Catherine Liamzon (ANGOC), Dr. Sadeka Halim (Information Commission Bangladesh) presented on the Right to Information Act, underscoring the fundamental importance of access to information in securing further procedural and substantive rights. Sam Pedragosa (Philippine Association for Intercultural Development and Southeast Asia regional coordinator for the ICCA Consortium; pictured above) then gave a critical overview of community experiences with free, prior and informed consent in the Philippines, with particular emphasis on how the spirit of this process has been manipulated by project proponents (primarily mining companies) for their own benefit and to the detriment of the Indigenous peoples and communities concerned, despite being enshrined in the 1997 Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Landmark Asian People's Land Rights Tribunal Held in the Philippines

Private sector investments in large-scale, industrial agriculture have been increasing in Asia since the 2008 food crisis, often resulting in the conversion of small-scale and subsistence agriculture and forests into monoculture plantations and widespread violations of human and peoples' rights. To further explore these issues, Holly Jonas (Natural Justice) attended the Asian People's Land Rights Tribunal from 16-17 January at the University of the Philippines in Manila. The Tribunal included consideration of four cases by a panel of eminent experts from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Bangladesh and was hosted by the Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC), Land Watch Asia Campaign, the University of the Philippines, the Pimental Institute for Leadership and Governance, and Oxfam's East Asia GROW Campaign.

The cases concerned issues with farmers, fisherfolk and Indigenous peoples being threatened and displaced by an industrial economic zone in Casiguran, Philippines; families having their subsistence farms destroyed to make way for large-scale sugar plantations in Koh Kong, Cambodia; Indigenous peoples being forcibly evicted from nearly 18,000 hectares of forested and small-scale agricultural land for oil palm plantations in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia; and Mamanwa Indigenous peoples opposing mining exploration in their ancestral domains in and around Lake Mainit, Agusan del Norte, Philippines. Together, these cases, presented by members of the affected communities and supporting non-governmental organisations, showcase an alarming situation of human rights and environmental violations in the three Southeast Asian countries, involving powerful local and foreign interests alike.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Community Protocols in Malaysia

From 6-7 January,  Harry Jonas attended a two-day workshop hosted by University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) on the ‘Implementing Telecentre Programme Among Orang Asli in West Malaysia’ Project. 

Natural Justice has been asked by UNIMAS to assist it to integrate community protocols into the project as a means to ensure the equitable engagement between the researchers and the Orang Asli, who are Indigenous peoples living in West Malaysia. 

On the first day, participants heard reports back from the four clusters of villages in which the project will be focused. On the second day, Harry Jonas and Tariq Zaman focused on community protocols.