Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kinabalu Biocultural Law Project

On the 20th of December, Natural Justice and Borneo Conservancy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the Kinabalu Biocultural Law Project. The project will be undertaken in partnership with the Sabah Biodiversity Centre and will explore with a number of Dusun communities living around Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Malaysia) innovative ways of engaging with laws towards protecting their biological and cultural diversity. The project will build on the work undertaken by partners to the Projek Etnobotani Kinabalu (Kinabalu Ethnobotany Project) and a recent study on traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous peoples' and community conserved areas (some outputs of which are available online). The project will also benefit from input from Dr. Agnes Lee Agama (South East Asia Coordinator of the Global Diversity Foundation) acting in her personal capacity. Natural Justice looks forward to working with the communities and team on the project.

L-R in the photo: Dorothy Lim, Lanash Thanda, Alice Mathew, and Daniel Doughty (Borneo Conservancy); Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Report: Land Rights and the Rush for Land

The International Land Coalition (ILC), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) have released a new report entitled, "Land Rights and the Rush for Land: Findings of the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project". Authored by Ward Anseeuw, Liz Alden Wily, Lorenzo Cotula, and Michael Taylor, the report is the culmination of a three-year research project that brought together 40 ILC members and partners to examine the characteristics, drivers, impacts, and trends of rapidly increasing commercial pressures on land.

According to the online synopsis, the report "strongly urges models of investment that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions, but rather work together with local land users, respecting their land rights and the ability of small-scale farmers themselves to play a key role in investing to meet the food and resource demands of the future. The conclusions of the report are based on case studies that provide indicative evidence of local and national realities, and on the ongoing global monitoring of large-scale land deals for which data are subject to a continuous process of verification." Although research and monitoring will continue, the report draws some conclusions and policy implications from the evidence already gathered.

The full report and executive summaries in English, French, and Spanish are available online.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Save Lamu Nominated for Human Rights Award

Save Lamu, a coalition of Indigenous communities of Lamu, Kenya, has been working with Natural Justice to develop a biocultural community protocol (BCP) to call for transparency and participation in the development of a mega-port on their traditional lands and waters from the Kenyan Government. For its outstanding efforts to ensure fairness and dignity for the people of Lamu and Kenya, Save Lamu has been nominated to receive a Pwani Human Rights Award. The annual Pwani Human Rights Award, organized by Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), aims at recognizing individuals and organizations who are at the forefront of promoting and protecting civil liberties and fundamental freedoms in Kenya. 

Congratulations to all representatives of Save Lamu for this well-deserved nomination! To support the efforts of Save Lamu please contact info@savelamu.org

Friday, December 9, 2011

Submission to UN WG on Human Rights and TNCs

On 8 December, Natural Justice and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) made a joint submission on ‘Large-Scale, Industrial Methods of Extraction, Production, and Development and their Impacts on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises.

The submission documents the varied and significant negative impacts of industrial extraction of natural resources, large‐scale energy and infrastructure development projects, and industrial production systems such as agriculture and fishing on Indigenous peoples and local communities. These impacts include, among others, the violation of human rights, environmental destruction, disempowerment, poverty, displacement, and adverse effects on health, local development, cultures, and tradition.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Conference on the Nagoya Protocol

Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) attended a conference at the University of Edinburgh from 2-3 of December focusing on the Nagoya Protocol. Many of the attendees were integral to the negotiation of the protocol and included presentations from: Valerie Normand (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity); Maria Julia Oliva (Union for Ethical Biotrade), Alphonse Kambu (UNEP); Charlotte Salpin (UNDOALOS); Claudio Chiarolla (IDDRI); and Tomme Young. Harry presented a paper he is co-authoring with Peter Munyi on the opportunities and challenges relating to the implementation of Articles 6, 7, 12 and 21 of the Nagoya protocol with reference to the San-Hoodia case and the ongoing experiences of the Traditional Healers of Bushbuckridge. The conference papers will be published in a forthcoming book edited by Elisa Morgera, Matthias Buck and Elsa Tsiomani. There was also a session reviewing a forthcoming commentary on the Nagoya Protocol, which will augment the book. Harry thanks Elisa Morgera and her team for the kind invitation.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Presenting BCPs in the Mau Forest

With a long history of exclusion from their traditional homes and increasing pressures on land tenure from politically connected outsiders, the Ogiek community is engaging in domestic and international legal action to protect their rights. The Ogiek Peoples' Development Program (OPDP), a key organisation in this process, suggested that Natural Justice could assist in supporting the Ogiek to establish their rights over their lands and resources. OPDP and Natural Justice agreed that one mechanism to help consolidate community sentiment around land and conservation and supplement the pending court cases could be a Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP).

On 2nd December, Natural Justice travelled to meet with over 50 elders and other representatives of the Ogiek community of the Mau Forest, near Nakuru, Kenya, to explain the principles of BCPs and ascertain if the community was interested in pursuing a BCP. At the meeting Natural Justice presented on the process of developing a BCP, focusing on the importance of engaging the broadest possible section of the community through all stages of the BCP development.

After this presentation community members asked questions about the practical steps needed to establish a BCP. They offered suggestions on how to ensure full participation. The attendees unanimously endorsed OPDP's suggestion that a BCP process should be initiated.

Friday, December 2, 2011

International Law Discussion Group

On 1 December, Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) met with Edinburgh University’s International Law Discussion Group to present on Natural Justice’s work. PhD and Masters students engaged with the local application of international law and considered the complexities, opportunities and challenges of using a variety of legal frameworks to effect social and environmental change. Harry thanks David Rossati and Professor Elisa Morgera for the opportunity.

BCPs, REDD+ and CBD Safeguards at COP17

On 1 December at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, Natural Justice co-hosted a panel entitled "Biocultural Protocols: Lessons for REDD+ Safeguards from the CBD Experiences". The event was hosted in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA), and the Global Forest Coalition (GFC).

The purpose of the panel was to raise awareness of a number of decisions, tools and guidelines that have been developed under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) during its 20-year history and to highlight their usefulness and cross-leverage rights to mitigate risks associated with Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

BCP Initiative Meeting in Nairobi

On 30th November, Natural Justice hosted participants and partners of the African BCP Initiative in Nairobi. Members of the Initiative presented on their Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) development workplans and implementation and members and partners offered feedback on ensuring meaningful BCPs. Throughout the day the key themes that emerged were the importance of good process in preparing BCPs and ideas for increasing the practical uses of BCPs.

Members represented a wide range of communities. The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) described the work of two communities in Ghana who are preparing BCPs to protect the Shea Tree and coastal sacred groves.  Local organizations working with pastoralist communities in Ilkesumeti and Kivulini, Kenya, shared their aims, which primarily address issues of land security, and the process through which they are engaging with their respective communities to ensure community ownership of the BCPs. Save Lamu presented on the BCP they are developing to enable local communities in Lamu to assert their rights as the Kenyan government prepares to build a major port in Lamu without any meaningful community consultation. MELCA Ethiopia illustrated the BCP being prepared with communities in Sheka Forest to consolidate their land rights and assert their traditional practices of conserving the forest. Representatives from the Laikipia Abandoned Lands Project and the USAID SECURE Project shared successes in community protection of land rights and developments in Kenyan law relevant to communities.