Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Publication: Legal Pluralism in Southeast Asia

A new publication entitled "Diverse Paths to Justice: Legal Pluralism and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Southeast Asia" has been released by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Forest Peoples Programme, the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC), and Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). Demonstrating that legal pluralism is "at the heart of Indigenous peoples' struggles", this fascinating compilation includes a range of articles by leading practitioners and academics about the legal landscapes and Indigenous peoples' experiences in Nagaland (India), Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia), the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Bangladesh).

The publication can be downloaded here.

Exploring Native Land Rights in Sabah

Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) attended a symposium entitled "Sabah Native Land Rights: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward". Chaired by Dr. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan (UMS Kadazandusun Chair), it was hosted by the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) School of Social Sciences from 30-31 January in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The opening keynote was delivered by YAA Tan Sri Richard Malanjum (Chief Justice, High Court of Malaysia). Highlights of the paper presentations included:
  • Overview of Native Customary Land Laws in Malaysia (Dr. Ramy Bulan, Centre for Legal Pluralism and Indigenous Law, University of Malaya)
  • Governance of Customary Land and Natural Resources in Sabah (Datuk Osman Jamal, Director, Sabah Lands and Surveys Department)
  • Land Rights, Native Rights, and Human Rights (Tan Sri Simon Sipuan, Former Vice Chairman, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia)
  • Selection of Village Headmen in Sabah (Dr. Paul Porodong and Dr. Gaim Lunkapis, UMS)
As in many former British colonies, the legal landscape in Sabah consists of a mosaic of statutory, common, and customary law. Drawing on a burgeoning global jurisprudence in support of Indigenous peoples' rights, many presenters called for greater legal pluralism, effective reform of decades-old legislations, and a national tribunal to address violations and the backlog of an estimated 300 000 native title applications.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kalpavriksh Newsletter on Biodiversity and Livelihoods

The latest edition of People in Conservation, the newsletter of the Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group, focuses on biodiversity conservation and livelihood security. The introductory editorial carefully analyses current methods of agricultural production and concludes by arguing, "to avert a humanitarian crisis of major proportions, new agri-food systems (production and access to food) are desperately needed – to ensure food security for all as well as to do so in an environmentally sound way. Continuing to rely on fossil-fuel-based mechanized industrial production is not a possibility." 

Other articles examine the Indian National Biodiversity Authority's decision to prosecute Monsanto for promoting BT brinjal in violation of the Biodiversity Protection Law, a critical analysis of India's proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, and a report on the Lokpanchayat movement to protect local seeds. 

Read the newsletter in English and in Hindi

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lamu Communities File Petition on Port

Lamu community members yesterday filed a legal petition at the Milimani Courts in Nairobi arguing that the Government of Kenya has violated several sections of the new constitution with its implementation of the proposed Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET). These violations include failing to provide information, consult the community, and carry out an environmental impact assessment. The case will be heard in Malindi on February 8th. Natural Justice is currently supporting the communities of Lamu in their calls for information and participation in the process and development of a biocultural community protocol (BCP).

The press statement prepared by the Chief Petitioner can be found here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Understanding Community-Based REDD+

As REDD+ programmes begin to be implemented at the community level by UNREDD and the World Bank, it is critical that communities are fully informed about the projects and the rights and protections mandated under REDD. In this complex context the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) have produced a fantastic resource for communities, 'Understanding Community-Based REDD+: A Manual for Indigenous Communities.'

The manual 'looks at REDD+ at the project level and tries to provide some guidance to finding answers to questions like: How does REDD+ fit into the overall livelihood and forest management systems of indigenous peoples? How does REDD+ work on the ground? What are the typical activities of a REDD+ project? Who are involved in a REDD+ project? What are the particular knowledge and skills needed for implementing a REDD+ project? By assisting communities in finding answers to such questions, the purpose of this manual is to help indigenous communities acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take a decision on whether to join a REDD+ project, and if they do, to be able to fully and effectively participate in it.'

You can download the full manual here.

Communities Legal Petition and Mass Action Against Port

On the 24th of January the communities of Lamu held a demonstration and press conference in protest against the Government of Kenya's plans to develop a major port in their territories without consulting and involving the communities in the process. The proposed port will have massive impacts upon the livelihoods of the Lamu communities and the incredibly rich biodiversity in the region. On the 25th of January, the communities will be filing a legal petition in the Kenyan courts to stop the construction of the port construction. The petition will argue that without adequate information, proper consultation and a credible environment impact assessment the construction contravenes a number of international and national laws. Natural Justice is currently supporting the communities of Lamu in their calls for information and participation in the process and development of a biocultural community protocol (BCP). 

Information regarding these activities can be found here. For further information, please read the press statement, letter to the President of Kenya and profile of Save Lamu, the umbrella group of the communities of Lamu.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Natural Justice in 2011

From supporting the development and use of biocultural community protocols in three continents to engaging in law and policy across numerous national and international fora, 2011 was a very busy year for the Natural Justice team. Our chronological review of 2011 outlines the activities undertaken under the headings Community Work, Technical Advice, International Meetings & Negotiations, Communications, Legal Submissions, Publications, International Development, Partners, and Funders. 

Please read the review here. More information will be available in our forthcoming 2011 annual report. Many thanks to all of our partners and supporters - we look forward to further strengthening the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities in 2012!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oro Verde Fairtrade and Fairmined Certification

Congratulations to Oro Verde on becoming only the second organisation to receive both Fairtrade and Fairmined Ecological certification for gold and platinum mining through FLO CERT, a leading fair trade organisation. The artisanal mining practices of Oro Verde the 25 mining units in Tadó-Chocó preserve the environment by not using chemicals and sustain the livelihoods of 120 individuals.

Save Lamu at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission

Natural Justice partner, Save Lamu, successfully read and presented a memorandum on historical land injustices to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission in Lamu, Kenya on the 9th January 2012. Save Lamu, a coalition of Indigenous communities of Lamu, has been working with Natural Justice to develop a biocultural community protocol (BCP) to call for transparency and full participation in the process of considering developing a mega-port on their traditional lands and waters from the Kenyan government. Save Lamu is a member of the BCP Initiative, a network of communities developing BCPs in Africa and Asia. The memorandum covered the following issues, all of which are exacerbated by the port development: 

1. Illegal/un-procedural Adjudication of Government Land; 
2. Lack of Compensation for Displaced persons; 
3. Un-procedural Settlement Schemes; 
4. Failure to Recognize Natural Resource Rights; 
5. Misuse of State Power to Gain Land without Consultation or Compensation; 
6. Intimidation by Organized Groups and Powerful Leaders. 

The Save Lamu memorandum can be accessed here.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kinabalu Project Planning Meeting

On 13 January, Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) joined partners Borneo Conservancy Initiative (BC Initiative) and Sabah Biodiversity Centre (SaBC) for a full-day planning meeting about the Kinabalu Biocultural Law Project, which is set to begin local work soon. Dr. Jamili Nais (Sabah Parks) and Dr. Agnes Lee Agama also joined the meeting for specific topics.

Presentations and topics discussed throughout the day included: Projek Etnobotani Kinabalu; international framework for access and benefit sharing (ABS); Sabah's framework for ABS; project aims, activities, outputs, and outcomes; proposed workplan for the first year; and linkages with other related initiatives around Mount Kinabalu (including a proposed wildlife corridor, Biosphere Reserve, and collaborations between Kinabalu Park and surrounding communities). Natural Justice thanks all of the participants as well as SaBC for hosting the meeting.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Book: Agrobiodiversity and the Law

As agricultural biodiversity deteriorates with increased reliance on fewer and fewer crop varieties, it is vital that policies to encourage the protection of crop genetic resources are considered and promoted. A new book by Juliana Santilli published by Earthscan, ‘Agrobiodiversity and the Law: Regulating Genetic Resources, Food Security and Cultural Diversity’, takes on this challenge. 

According to the online synopsis, "this book analyzes the impact of the legal system on agrobiodiversity (or agricultural biodiversity) – the diversity of agricultural species, varieties, and ecosystems. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it takes up the emerging concept of agrobiodiversity and its relationship with food security, nutrition, health, environmental sustainability, and climate change. It assesses the impacts on agrobiodiversity of key legal instruments, including seeds laws, the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, plant breeders’ rights, the Convention on Biological Diversity (regarding specifically its impact on agrobiodiversity), and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It also reviews the options for the implementation of these instruments at the national level in several countries. It discusses the interfaces between the free software movement, the ‘commons’ movement, and seeds, as well as the legal instruments to protect cultural heritage and their application to safeguard agrobiodiversity-rich systems. Finally, it analyzes the role of protected areas and the possibility of using geographical indications to enhance the value of agrobiodiversity products and processes." 

 Order the book here.