Monday, January 31, 2011

Landmark Ruling for San in Botswana

In a landmark ruling delivered on January 27 by the Botswanan Court of Appeals, the Indigenous San were granted rights to drill for water in their ancestral lands. The San were evicted from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in 2002 and have been locked in legal battles ever since in an effort to regain traditional rights to their land and resources.

The government capped water reserves during the evictions and has since given the go-ahead for the construction of luxury tourist lodges and a $3 billion diamond mine on San land, policies that sparked international outrage and have been condemned by the UN and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, among others. Media outlets, human rights organizations, and the San themselves have welcomed the January 27 ruling, which acknowledged the San as the "lawful occupiers" of the Reserve's lands. For more information, see this January 28 Afrol News article and the original Court ruling.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

UN-REDD Consultation on FPIC in Tanzania

From January 24-27, the "African Regional Consultation between Indigenous Peoples, Forest-Dependent Communities, and the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Programme: Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Processes and Recourse Mechanisms" took place in Arusha, Tanzania. The meeting was the third consultation of the UN-REDD Programme that was organized with community representatives; the previous meetings taking place in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Panama City, Panama. The meeting in Arusha was attended by approximately 60 people representing African Indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities, NGOs, and UN agencies. The workshop provided participants with information on the UN-REDD Programme and various experiences with FPIC processes. Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) presented on FPIC mechanisms that communities may wish to utilize if engaging with REDD projects.

Over the final 2 days of the meeting, participants drafted recommendations and guidelines for FPIC processes and recourse mechanisms, which will be used to inform the final guidelines to be adopted by the UN-REDD Programme. The guidelines drafted by participants included: ensuring that when “FPIC of communities are sought, the customary laws, procedures and community protocols of these communities are respected and complied with”; recommending an independent dispute mechanism to hear complaints under the various National REDD Committees; and the creation of an Ombudsman or Legal Aid Office within the REDD mechanism to specifically represent the interests of communities in REDD projects. Background documents and workshop materials can be accessed here.

On January 28, Gino was also invited to attend a meeting of the Pastoralist Task Force Group to discuss the work of Natural Justice and the use of biocultural community protocols (BCPs). Natural Justice was invited to return to Tanzania to synergize its work with Tanzanian NGOs working directly with pastoralists and to provide further training on BCPs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Natural Justice Holds AGM

Natural Justice held its Annual General Meeting on January 25 in Cape Town, with the Sabah team phoning in via Skype. We discussed changes to the board, the annual report from 2009-2010, and organizational issues such as governance, strategy planning, finances, and monitoring and evaluation. The minutes will be posted shortly on our website. Thanks to two of our Trustees, Adele Wildschut and Saliem Fakir, for taking the time to join us and providing invaluable guidance!

Monday, January 24, 2011

FPIC and REDD Consultation in Arusha

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) will take part in the Regional Consultation between Indigenous Peoples and Forest-Dependent Communities from Africa and the UN-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Programme: Free, Prior and Informed Consent Processes and Recourse Mechanisms. The meeting will be held in Arusha, Tanzania, from January 24-27 and attended by approximately 60 representatives of Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities. The meeting is the third consultation organized with community representatives on the UN-REDD Programme; the previous meetings taking place in Hanoi, Vietnam, and Panama City, Panama. The meeting will provide a background to REDD+ and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, and discuss the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) with regional and international examples. Towards the end of the meeting, the participants will refine a set of definitions, recommendations and guidelines for FPIC processes and recourse mechanisms that will later inform a final draft of guidelines to be adopted by the UN-REDD Programme. Gino will present on Natural Justice's experience of working with communities to implement FPIC.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

IUCN-CEESP Sharing Power Conference

The first Sharing Power Conference was held in Whakatane, New Zealand, from January 11-15, hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (a Maori tribal authority), and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (a Maori tribal university). The Conference was about decentralization of the governance and management of biocultural resources, particularly in relation to Indigenous peoples and local communities, and exploring a new vision for development beyond the current mainstream economic models that have created and continue to perpetuate socio-economic inequities and large-scale environmental damage. Keynote speakers included Ashok Khosla, Elinor Ostrom, Winona La Duke, Professor Sir Sydney Moko Mead, and Julie Marton-Lefevre, and workshop sessions were divided into six streams.
The conference also hosted a high-level dialogue between Indigenous peoples and the chairs of IUCN Commissions and other major environmental organizations. Among other things, the participants agreed to review and advance the implementation of IUCN resolutions related to Indigenous peoples taken at the 4th World Conservation Congress (which, along with the Durban Action Plan and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity, are often referred to as the “new conservation paradigm”). Key principles agreed upon in this new conservation paradigm include that:
  • No new parks should be established without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples;
  • Forced resettlement should be strictly eliminated;
  • Lands taken without consent should be returned to their traditional owners;
  • Indigenous peoples should be involved in the management of protected areas and share in the benefits; and
  • Community-based initiatives and processes, such as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas, should be recognized and supported.

More information about the high-level dialogue and the rest of the conference can be viewed in these press releases by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP). When a conference report is released, it will also be posted on our blog.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BCP Planning in Sabah

Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) joined the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF)-Sabah team in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park from January 16-18. Among other things, they went through the latest written version of the Ulu Papar biocultural community protocol, discussed areas for additional research, and brainstormed ideas for future plans, inlcuding an online multimedia version.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

ICCA Consortium holds EGA in New Zealand

On January 15, Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) attended an Extraordinary General Assembly of the ICCA Consortium remotely via Skype. The EGA was held in conjunction with the IUCN-CEESP Sharing Power Conference. It included the adoption of revised Statutes and 2010 financial report, discussion of potential new Consortium members, and approval of members of the Consortium Steering Committee (proposed at the last General Assembly in Nagoya on October 24). Natural Justice will continue to be involved in revising the Statutes as appropriate, as well as drafting proposed criteria for new Consortium members.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Genes, Post-Apartheid Identity, and ICCAs - All at IASC 2011

Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom at IASC 2011.
On January 12 at the IASC 2011 Conference being held in Hyderabad, India, Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) chaired a panel titled "Storehouses of Genes - Whose Property?" The panel had presentations on the microbial commons and challenges of forced introduction of genetically modified crops in Mexico and in China. The panel concluded with a lively discussion on the the challenges to sustaining the local gene pool commons. There was also an interesting afternoon panel discussion on "Boundaries of Authority, Identity and Space at the Interface between Formal State Law and Local Customary Law in South Africa". The speakers included representatives of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (University of Western Cape) and Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (University of Cape Town). The panel focused on challenges of identifying customary law and traditional authority in post-apartheid South Africa, where the apartheid state had reorganized chieftainship structures through the creation of bantustans and made the Chiefs accountable to the State rather than to their communities.

Also on January 12, Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) participated in a day-long workshop on Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). The workshop was organized by Kalpavriksh and presenters at the workshop included Ashish Kothari, Gary Martin, Tushar Dash, Neema Pathak, Terence Hay-Edie, and Fred Nelson. The presenters discussed a range of areas concerning ICCAs, including legal recognition, ICCAs as politically contested commons, and ICCAs as a mechanism to assert the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, and presented case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A discussion on policy surrounding ICCAs will be held on the final day of the conference on January 14.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

UN Decade of Biodiversity Announced

In its Resolution 65/161, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011-2020 the UN Decade of Biodiversity. The Decade builds on the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and is intended to support the implementation of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity that was adopted by Decision X/2 of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in October in Nagoya. The full text of the notification can be viewed here.

Pastoralism & the Commons at IASC 2011

On January 11 at the IASC 2011 Conference, Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) spoke on the Policy Forum on Pastoralism and Commons: Beyond Sedentarisation and Sustainability. The Policy Forum had six speakers from different parts of the world, including India, Mongolia, and Japan, presenting a variety of perspectives on the current challenges confronting pastoralists. Kabir presented on the trialectic of new social movements such as the movement for the rights of livestock keepers, whose activism focuses simultaneously on the local, national, and international levels and had successfully generated a global political identity of livestock keepers. He also highlighted the importance of alliances being formed between Indigenous peoples' groups and pastoralist groups, as well as their ability to strategically use supra-national fora to lobby for rights that are then used domestically to force policy change. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of developing an ethnography of activism for livestock keepers' rights - in other words, to begin to trace and understand the interplay between local, domestic, and international struggles of pastoralists and its implications for the future of pastoralism.

Traditional Knowledge & the Commons at IASC 2011

Natural Justice hosted a panel on Traditional Knowledge and the Commons on January 11 at the 2011 IASC Conference. Chaired by Gino Cocchiaro, the speakers included Kabir Bavikatte and Gino (Natural Justice) and Margaret (Peggy) Smith (Associate Professor, Faculty of Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University, Ontario). Gino presented on the importance of ensuring that systems for the protection of traditional knowledge interface with values of the commons, and elaborated on potential models for a traditional knowledge commons. Peggy presented on the application of traditional knowledge in forest management in Canada and the need to move beyond the rhetoric of State control. Kabir traced the origins of biocultural rights in international environmental law, highlighting the intersection between the movement for the commons, the movement for Indigenous peoples' rights, and the post-development tendency. The panel was well-attended and ended with a lively discussion around the need to reconcile general notions of knowledge commons with the embodied nature of traditional knowledge.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

IASC Pre-Conference Workshop on BCPs

Natural Justice and the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development (LPP) organized a day long pre-conference workshop on January 10 at the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) Conference 2011 in Hyderabad. The workshop was very well-attended and focused on the role of biocultural community protocols in securing livestock keepers' rights to their commons. The workshop had presentations by Dr. Ilse Kohler-Rollefson (LPP), Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice), Kamal Kishore (Rainfed Livestock Network), Lalji Desai (World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples), and Saverio Kratli (editor, Nomadic Peoples Journal). The workshop was facilitated by Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice). The presentations led to a rich discussion that affirmed the importance of biocultural community protocols in securing livestock keepers' rights.

The day ended with the official inauguration of the 2011 IASC Conference. The keynote lecture was given by the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Dr. Elinor Ostrom, followed by a stimulating talk by Jairam Ramesh (Minister for Environmental Affairs, India). With over 700 participants from 69 countries, the 2011 IASC Conference that will take place over the next four days promises to be a great success.

New Law on Indigenous Peoples in Republic of Congo

Credit: United Nations
A new law was adopted in late December by the Senate of the Republic of Congo that grants children of Indigenous populations legal basis to access health care, education, and protection. The law, which is set to make Congo the first country in Africa to provide specific legal protection to Indigenous peoples, has been hailed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as "a great step forward". Indigenous peoples make up about 10 percent of the Congolese population and are "the poorest of the poor". James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has also commended the adoption, and calls for "effective implementation... [which] will require strong and concerted effort by government authorities at all levels". Other views from human rights organizations and government officials in the Republic of Congo can be read here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Conservation Photography Through the Eyes of Experts

A short film produced by Neil Ever Osborne and Chad Stevens and hosted on the website of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) explores the definition and value of conservation photography. The film includes interviews with scientists and environmental activists such as Jane Goodall (founder, Jane Goodall Institute), Michael Nichols (Editor-at-Large, National Geographic), and Cristina Mittermeier (president, iLCP) about the power of photography as a tool for conservation. The narrative is illustrated by beautiful images from over 40 conservation photographers. The film can be viewed here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meeting Over Common Ground in India

Credit: Ilse Kohler-Rollefson
Kabir Bavikatte and Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) will be participating in the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) from January 10-14 in Hyderabad, India. The Conference provides a unique opportunity to resurface the discussion and debate on Commons and bring experience and evidence from across the world to show that Commons are not a relic of the past, but play a strategic role in maintaining ecological health, reducing poverty, and improving collective action.

By placing the Conference agenda in the ongoing discussions around conservation, local governance, social exclusion and human rights, agrarian distress and rural livelihoods, and by pitching it at the interface of policy, research and practice, the aim is to bring practitioners, scholars and decision makers to a common meeting ground so as to enrich the collective understanding on common property resources and identify areas and measures to inform policy and programmatic action as well as guide future research.

The Conference has attracted 700 participants from 69 countries with a large number panels and presentations. The Conference will open with a key note address by Elinor Ostrom titled 'Cooperation for the Common Good: Challenging Supposed Impossibilities and Panaceas'. In partnership with the League of Pastoral Peoples, Natural Justice will be organizing a pre-conference workshop on 'Biocultural Community Protocols as a Tool for Securing the Rights of Pastoralists and Livestock Keepers for In-Situ Conservation and Access to Common Property Resources'. During the Conference, Natural Justice will be hosting a panel on 'Traditional Knowledge and the Commons'. Kabir Bavikatte will also be chairing a panel on 'Store Houses of Genes: Whose Property?'.

Further information about the IASC 2011 can be accessed here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Lamu's Muslim and Indigenous People Demand 'Natural Justice'"

Credit: Green Prophet
A January 4 article on Green Prophet outlines the issues faced by the Swahili and Indigenous communities of Lamu, Kenya, as the government and a yet-unnamed contractor plan to build a multi-billion dollar port and related developments. Local fishing livelihoods, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and surrounding coral reef, mangrove forests, and endangered dugongs and marine turtles are all threatened by the massive developments.

The article outlines a press release issued by the Lamu Environment Protection and Conservation Group (LEPAC), which calls on the Government of Kenya to:
  • Seek dialogue with the community to hear its concerns about the construction of the port and to take these into consideration in its planning;
  • Make public an Environmental and Cultural Impact Assessment Report;
  • Ensure that the environmental impact of the port is minimal;
  • Ensure that the local community benefits from opportunities from the development of the port; and
  • Provide land reforms (as pertains to the new constitution) to be implemented before port plans are inaugurated.
Natural Justice is working with LEPAC and Kenyan human rights lawyers to support the communities' development of a biocultural community protocol to voice their concerns with being excluded from the process and necessary information such as impact assessments. Find out more about Natural Justice's work in Lamu here and more about a local Imam's concerns about the port development here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Viewing Cancun Through an Ethical Lens

An essay by Donald Brown (Penn State University) recently published online delves into the legal and ethical details of the negotiations of the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The article, entitled "An Ethical Analysis of the Cancun Climate Negotiations Outcome" can be read here. For more information about COP16, please see our Dec. 14 post.