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.
Finally, Holly Jonas (Natural Justice) presented on community protocols as an adaptive and community-determined instrument that can be used in a range of legal and policy contexts (including land rights) to address various threats and opportunities in pursuit of social and environmental justice. Questions and discussion focused primarily on balancing support for customary institutions and traditional practices while also securing human rights, particularly of women. Many thanks to ANGOC for the opportunity to join this session and we look forward to working together more in the future!