Friday, January 30, 2015

Seeking Justice at the International Level - New Guide Published by Natural Justice

Grievance mechanisms are one avenue for indigenous peoples and local communities to have addressed issues and concerns arising from impact by projects, such as those related to extractive industries and infrastructure. However, the processes and procedures of grievance mechanisms are often buried deep in operational policies and guidelines catering toward technocrats, rather than those communities likely to need them. Thus, much work has been done to develop and improve communities’ access to grievance mechanisms by producing publications that break down and explain such mechanisms in a more user-friendly way. 

The goal  of this document ‘Seeking Justice at the International Level: A short guide to Regional and International Grievance and Advocacy Mechanisms For Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’, is to provide a brief overview of relevant mechanisms that communities can use to potentially address an issue, to get a sense of the focus of each mechanism and in what contexts they might be useful.


Natural Justice: lawyers for communities and the environment is expanding its Nairobi, Kenya office and seeking to hire a full-time lawyer to assist in its projects, with a particular focus on supporting communities impacted by infrastructure and extractive industry projects. The successful candidate will be based in Nairobi.

The role of the lawyer will include: providing legal advice to indigenous and/or marginalised communities and their supporting local organisations (including supporting the development and use of community protocols); supporting communities and community partners in strategizing and addressing infrastructure or extractive industry projects, community land and resource laws; conducting research on LAPSSET and other infrastructure projects; preparing legal pleadings, undertaking litigation and/or briefing counsel; working closely with project coordinators in Kenya and South Africa; providing technical advice to County Government and relevant government agencies; attending relevant meetings and workshops within Kenya, Africa and internationally.

The deadline for applications is 2nd March, 2015, 17:00 GMT. Interviews will commence in early March. Please email your application to Gino Cocchiaro (gino(at)naturaljustice(dot)org) with the job title in the subject line. Include a motivation letter that indicates why you feel you are the best candidate for this position, a detailed CV with three references, and maximum three samples of your past work (for example, articles, research reports or court submissions). Please ensure that your application as a whole speaks to the required skills and experience and desirable traits and attributes listed above. For further details, see  Call for applications: Legal Officer, Kenya.

Community-Company Engagement: “Good” Practice in Extractive Industries

The extractive industries, including mining, oil and gas, continue to have large-scale and systemic impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities that live on or near such projects. Communities, whether they seek to resist the entry of extractive industries on their lands – due to the well-known history of gross violations of their rights as a result of mining activities or due to lack of obvious benefits – or whether they seek to cooperate with the hope of obtaining some benefits, will usually interact with companies in some form or another. 

Over the past years companies and communities have increasingly engaged through amicable means. These types of ‘community-company engagements’ have taken a broad range of interactions inducing dialogue throughout a project’s life cycle, including specific negotiations, agreements and accompanying mechanisms such as grievance mechanisms and development funds. This paper  by Marie Wilke, Laura Letourneau-Tremblay and Stephanie Booker seeks to examine community-company engagement through the lens of communities that, for a variety of reasons, struggle to engage with companies and who seek to use these types of agreements to formalize their role in the process, to obtain clear commitments on key points such as the scope of impact assessments, to draw up mechanisms that can address potential conflicts and to set the stage for more comprehensive socio-economic participation negotiations at a later stage.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review of RSPO's Complaints System Published

In 2014, Natural Justice was involved in two projects concerning the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). First, from April to November 2014, Natural Justice undertook a review of RSPO’s complaints system in collaboration with BC Initiative, Sdn. Bhd. The review arose from a resolution adopted at the 2012 General Assembly entitled “Guaranteeing Fairness, Transparency and Impartiality in the RSPO Complaints System” and called for the current complaints system to be improved in light of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (particularly Principle 31 on non-judicial grievance mechanisms). After three interim reports and an extensive consultation process, the final report was submitted in December and is publicly available online here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Natural Justice Awarded OCSDNet Grant

Natural Justice is proud to have been awarded an OCSDNet Grant to focus on Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights  This 24-month project, led by principle researcher Dr. Cath Traynor, examines processes of open and collaborative science related to indigenous peoples’ knowledge, climate change, and intellectual property. It assumes and challenges practices of open and collaborative science as a process, one that should involve modes of being both open and closed. 

The notion of science as “open” and nature as “freely accessible” has historically been used to exploit countries in the global south such as South Africa. British and Dutch colonial scientists, for example, characterized land and resources in South Africa as “belonging to no one” under the doctrine of terra nullius in order to take biodiverse plants and produce botanical science. The notion that knowledge and resources should be open and accessible has therefore been historically used to construct South Africa as a mere supplier of raw material, rather than producer of scientific knowledge. In particular, indigenous peoples’ knowledge, resources, and heritage have been cast as free for the taking. More on the project, and the full proposal submitted by Natural Justice is accessible here.