Friday, February 24, 2012

Introduction to BCPs in la Mosquitia, Honduras

On the 21st of February, Johanna von Braun from Natural Justice participated in an introduction workshop on biocultural community protocols in Puerto Lempiras, capital of the Mosquitia region in Honduras. The workshop was facilitated the Central American regional office of IUCN, Mopawi, a Miskito NGO and Moskitia Asia Takanka (MASTA), the main representative body of the Miskito people. The Miskito are an indigenous community that stretches from the southern section of Honduras into the northern parts of Nicaragua inland and along the Moskito Coast by the Caribbean Sea. In Honduras the community comprise approximately 50000 people. 

The territory of the Miskito in Honduras includes the biggest section of pristine wilderness in Central America, made of mangrove swamps, lagoons, rivers, savannas and tropical rain forests as well as mountainous cloud forests. It also includes three protected areas and a UNESCO Biosphere. The community has long been fighting for their rights regarding land title, control over forest and marine resources as well as procedural rights such as their right to Free and Prior Informed Consent. They face a plethora of threats ranging from conflicts including with the protected areas, agricultural expansion, dams and fishing practices all of which they feel undermine their rights established under international law. 

During the workshop BCPs were introduced to members of MASTA, Mopawi as well as to a number of presidents of the community’s 300 territorial councils. Participants then discussed the value such instrument would bring to support their struggles and eventually decided to move forward with a BCP focusing on territorial and resource rights.

The meeting was followed by a second day of discussion in which IUCN ORMA presented to participants a recently commissioned legal analysis. The study outlines the short-comings of Honduras’ new forest law compared to international conventions regarding indigenous peoples rights, namely ILO Convention 169 as well as UNDRIP.

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