Thursday, February 28, 2013

FPP Resource on RSPO Dispute Resolution System

The Forest Peoples' Programme has produced a booklet documenting the dispute resolution system of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a not-for-profit association formed in 2004 in response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably produced palm oil. While the document identifies numerous shortcomings with the RSPO complaints system, it seeks to ensure that communities are capable of accessing the current system. According to the booklet, "it provides basic information and guidance to civil society organisations and affected local communities on how the RSPO complaint process works and the various steps involved in submitting a complaint."

The booklet can be downloaded here

IDLO Publications on Customary Justice

The International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) has released three edited volumes on customary justice. 

"Customary Justice: Perspectives on Legal Empowerment" was edited by Janine Ubink and "explores the relationship between traditional justice and legal empowerment. It discusses key aspects of traditional justice, including the rise of customary law in justice sector reform, the effectiveness of hybrid justice systems, access to justice through community courts, customary law and land tenure, land rights and nature conservation, and the analysis of policy proposals for justice reforms based on traditional justice." It can be downloaded here.

"Working with Customary Justice Systems: Post-conflict and Fragile States" was edited by Erica Harper and  "showcases research conducted under the IDLO Legal Empowerment and Customary Law Research Grants Program. Through this program, seven bursaries were awarded to scholar-practitioners to evaluate the impact of an empowerment-based initiative involving customary justice. The volume aims to assist readers develop a better understanding of the relationship between customary justice and the legal empowerment of users and identify possible entry points for engaging with customary justice systems." It can be downloaded here.

Finally, "Customary Justice: from Programe Design to Impact Evaluation" was also edited by Erica Harper and "was developed to provide guidance to international and national actors on the potential role of customary justice systems in fostering the rule of law and access to justice in post-conflict, post-disaster and development contexts. Specifically, it aims to provoke thought among practitioners about the objectives of customary law interventions, to encourage critical assessments of the criteria on which programming decisions are made, and to provide tools to assist in gauging the extent to which interventions are having a positive impact." It can be downloaded here

Seventh Pan-African ABS Workshop

Natural Justice’s Lassana Kone and Gino Cocchiaro are attending the seventh Pan-African Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Workshop hosted by South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs from 25 February to 1 March 2013 in Phalaborwa, South Africa. 

The main objectives of the workshop are to collect reflections and comments on the draft AU Guidelines regarding its use and usefulness, consider the “Traditional Knowledge and Plant Genetic Resources Guidelines” developed by SANBio/NEPAD, reflect on the outcomes of the workshop on traditional knowledge in Bangalore, India, and discuss questions regarding the documentation, valorization and compliance of traditional knowledge. 

The workshop was officially opened on 25 February by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa. She also made a symbolic handover of the second royalty payment to the National Traditional Healer’s Committee. The donors to the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, including the German Embassy, the Danish Ministry of the Environment, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Institut de la Francophonie pour le Developpement Durable and the African Union Commission also addressed the assembly. 

In the opening address, Dr Andreas Drews of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative stressed that the expected outcomes of the workshop are to share experiences, reflect and comment on the draft AU Guidelines, and identify the challenges and recommendations for the future work under the ABS Initiative on the linkages between ABS, traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights for effective national implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. There will also be an opportunity to discuss the draft EU regulation for implementing the Nagoya Protocol.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Presentation at National University of Juridical Sciences

On 24 February, 2013, Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) was invited by the Nature Committee of the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata to speak to students on Biocultural Rights and Access and Benefit Sharing. Thereafter Kabir co-chaired a mock session on negotiating the Nagoya Protocol with law students from law schools across India.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Meeting on the Scope of BCPs in Bhubaneswar

Natural Justice and Vasundhara jointly organised a meeting on 22 February 2013 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha District, to discuss the scope of Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs) in asserting community rights. The meeting was facilitated by Sankar Pani (Natural Justice) and was attended by representatives from various civil society organisations working in Odisha. 

Mr Y Giri Rao (Vasundhara) welcomed participants and presented the keynote address. Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) detailed the jurisprudence of BCPs and how they have been used by various communities across the globe in articulating and asserting their stewardship rights. Pratap Mohanty (Vasundhara) spoke on how BCPs can be used as tools in claiming habitat rights for particularly vulnerable tribal communities such as the Juang, Paudibhuyan and Chuktia Bhunjia. 

Bhajaman Mahant (Jivan Vikas) presented on the impact of extractive industries on Paudibhuyan Communities and how the community is further alienated by the compensatory afforestation programmes on community land. Sricharan Behera emphasised how BCPs can be used to preserve community knowledge. He also asked how the traditional knowledge related to the production of organic turmeric in Kondhamal can be protected and patented. 

Sambandh, a local organization working with traditional healers, presented on the biocultural practices of traditional healers around the sustainable use and conservation of medicinal plants. Priyabrat Satpathy (Action Aid), lawyer and activist Chandranath Dani, Dillip Das (Antoday), Pravat Mishra (RCDC) also participated in the discussions.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Launch of the Philippines ICCA Consortium

In the Philippines, the future of conservation is directly linked to Indigenous peoples. Recent spatial analysis shows that the vast majority of the country's remaining forests and key biodiversity areas are located within Indigenous peoples' ancestral domains. From 19-21 February, Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI, the national Indigenous peoples' coalition of the Philippines) and the Philippine Association for Inter-cultural Development (PAFID) co-hosted a workshop to establish the foundation for a national consortium on Indigenous peoples' and community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs). This initiative was in direct response to the Manila Declaration, which emphasises Indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources and the strengthening of traditional governance systems and sets out guidelines for Indigenous peoples, government and support organisations. The Declaration was agreed at the first national conference on ICCAs, held in March 2012 at the University of the Philippines.

Workshop participants were comprised of Indigenous leaders from the 7 ethnographic regions of the Philippines. Dr. Grazia Borrini-Feyerbend (Global Coordinator, ICCA Consortium), Samson Pedragosa (PAFID and ICCA Consortium Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator), and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice and ICCA Consortium International Policy Assistant) served as resource people on successes, challenges, and lessons learned from ICCAs around the world and in international law and policy. Other speakers included Honourable Teddy Baguilat (Chairman, Committee on National Cultural Communities, House of Representatives of the Philippines), Folay Eleazar (Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources), and Toshihiro Tanaka (Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP).

Many thanks to KASAPI, PAFID and PAWB for their generous hospitality and congratulations to the Indigenous leaders on this exciting initiative!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Second Meeting of the ARI-BCP

Natural Justice and the Law, Environment and Design (LED) Lab organised the second meeting of the Asia Regional Initiative on Biocultural Community Protocols (ARI-BCP) at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore from 18-20 February, 2013. The meeting was attended by ARI-BCP participants from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal working to support tribal rights, fishing community rights, the rights of communities affected by extractive industries, traditional healers’ rights and farmers’ rights. The meeting was supported by The Christensen Fund and the Ford Foundation

Participants primarily discussed how BCPs can be used in securing the rights of indigenous communities. They also discussed how domestic legislation can be used in preparing BCPs and how the experiences of BCPs can be shared across larger networks.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

LAPSSET Dialogue Meeting in Nairobi

On 15 February 2013, Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended a stakeholder dialogue meeting on the on-going plans and sharing of updates on the implementation of the Lamu Port and Lamu Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was facilitated by Save Lamu and included over 50 participants from communities affected by LAPSSET, national civil society organisations, multinational organisations and Kenyan government agencies. The meeting resulted in the drafting and adoption of a statement on the aspirations and concerns of communities affected by LAPSSET projects. 

From the statement, “As communities that have long been disenfranchised, and that are in dire need of development, we commend the Kenyan government for its commitment to upgrading and modernising the country’s infrastructure as per the proposed Lamu Port, South-Sudan, Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor outlined in the Government of Kenya’s 'Vision 2030'. We appreciate the need for connecting communities along the northern corridor to facilitate national and international trade. However, we are deeply concerned by the lack of community consultation and transparency in the implementation of the project and hereby wish to express our concerns.” 

Read more about the meeting here. Download the community statement here.

Pastoralist BCP Programme Planning - Nairobi

Natural Justice's Gino Cocchiaro met with Life Africa Trust, Kivulini Trust and the Marsabit Accountability Forum in Nairobi, Kenya on 14 February. The meeting was to plan the two-year programme, supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme, that is being coordinated by the organisations to support the Borana and Samburu pastoralist communities to strengthen community governance systems through the development of community protocols with the aim of enhancing resource management and securing community land. Throughout the project Natural Justice will partner with Kenyan lawyers to build the capacity of the Borana and Samburu to proactively claim their resource and land rights.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Document Reveals Gas Company Plans for Manú National Park

A new document reveals Pluspetrol interests in the gas reserves of Manú National Park in the Peruvian Amazon. Unesco considers the  park's biodiversity to exceed that of any other place on Earth. The national park is also home to Indigenous peoples with no regular contact with outsiders. The document is entitled “Research Plan for Geological Exploration and Surface Geochemistry in the Manú National Park and its Buffer Zone” and was produced by the consultancy Quartz Services on request by Pluspetrol. 

The document acknowledges that Peruvian law prohibits extractive operations in national parks. However, the document suggests that Quartz could “contribute not only to the continuation of activities in Lot 88 (a gas concession already existent), but also to the development of the Manú National Park protected area.”

Read more about the document in The Guardian here

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

EMRIP Submission on Indigenous Peoples and Access to Justice

Orang asli (Indigenous peoples) of Malaysia celebrate a
successful High Court judgment in 2012. Photo via The Star.
On 11 February, Natural Justice made two submissions to a Human Rights Council-mandated study by the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) on access to justice in the protection and promotion of the rights of Indigenous peoples. The draft study will be presented at the sixth session of EMRIP in July.

The first submission had a global focus and consisted of two parts. Part I included inputs and experiences from several countries in Asia, Africa, and North and South America, with particular emphasis on the protection and stewardship of Indigenous peoples’ customary territories and resources. These were primarily drawn from a series of legal reviews coordinated in 2012 by Natural Justice and Kalpavriksh on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA) Consortium.  It focused on the following themes before setting out key recommendations from the legal reviews:
  1. The relationship between access to justice and a range of other Indigenous peoples’ rights;
  2. Systemic and structural threats to Indigenous peoples’ rights and their territories and resources;
  3. Judicial systems themselves as a barrier to justice;
  4. Landmark judgments;
  5. Landmark legislation; and
  6. Continuing challenges with implementation and compliance.

L’accès à la Justice des Autochtones Pygmées en Province du Nord Kivu

Mission de médiation foncière entre les populations
autochtones pygmées et non pygmées dans 4 localités
du Groupement Ufamandu 1er, en territoire de Masisi.
Photo de PIDP-Kivu.
En date du 11 février 2013, Natural Justice, en collaboration avec le Programme d’Intégration et de Développement du Peuple Pygmée au Kivu (PIDP-Kivu) a soumis une étude conjointe sur l’accès à la justice des autochtones pygmées dans la province du Nord Kivu, au Mécanisme d’Expert des Nations Unies sur les Droits des Peuples Autochtones.

Cette étude décrit les difficultés auxquelles sont confrontés les autochtones pygmées en province du Nord Kivu pour accéder à la justice. Ces difficultés sont liées essentiellement à la marginalisation croissante des pygmées au sein de la société congolaise, l’analphabétisme, ainsi que le manque d’information concernant les lois et le système judiciaire en général.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Community Visioning Workshop in Melangkap

Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) worked with Lanash Thanda and Alice Matthew (Borneo Conservancy) from 8-10 February to facilitate a workshop in Melangkap, a cluster of villages in Sabah, Malaysia, to begin to explore the communities' futures. The participants looked ahead to Melangkap in 2030 to think through what might be the positive and negative changes, and to think through how to avoid the negative. The workshop and related meetings with the communities' Ketua Kampungs (leaders) constitute preparatory work ahead of assisting the communities to develop a community protocol and to engage external stakeholders.

Major Court Victory for Tana River Delta Communities

Photo via
In a significant victory for community land rights, the Kenyan High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi has ruled that all land use plans for the Tana River Delta must be developed with the full participation of local communities. The Court also ordered that the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority must share current short and long term land use plans and that plans will be periodically reviewed. The ruling is a major triumph as tens of thousands of hectares of multi-use floodplain would have been converted for sugar cane production under the current plan and many residents of the Delta were to be removed. 

The case was brought by representatives of farmers, fishermen, pastoralists and conservation groups in the Tana River Delta and sought to halt large-scale commercial developments in the Tana River Delta until a master plan was developed. They were supported by the Kenya Wetlands Biodiversity Research Team with funding from the East African Wildlife Society and Nature Kenya

Read more about the ruling from the East African Wildlife Society’s press release here and the Business Daily here.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CAO Audit of IFC Investments

The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the independent recourse mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has released an audit of the IFC’s financial sector investments together with a response from the IFC. The audit considered 188 of the IFC’s 844 financial sector investments and has revealed significant risks from these investments as they potentially cause environmental and/or social harm. 

The audit determines that while the IFC has followed its environmental and social policy and procedural requirements, the methodology does not determine whether environmental and social management systems in place by clients actually fulfil the ‘do no harm’ objective. Further, CAO questions whether IFC’s procedures support broader social and environmental outcomes “commensurate with IFC’s prominent leadership role as a promoter of environmental and social responsibility.” 

The full audit can be accessed here.

ICCA Consortium Newsletter Recaps 2012

The Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCA) Consortium has released the third edition of its newsletter, which focuses on Consortium events and activities from the final months of 2012. The newsletter blends coverage of work at the international and regional level with activities in specific countries and locations. The newsletter highlights the continued emergence of the ICCA Consortium, especially at the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, as an influential actor representing various coalition partners supporting ICCAs. The steady expansion of national-level work from supporting individual ICCAs to developing nation-wide coalitions is also emphasised. Finally, the success of Consortium members in forcing policy conversations on conservation to always consider ICCAs, something unimaginable 10 years ago, is underscored. 

The newsletter can be downloaded here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Prospectus sur les Protocoles Bioculturels Communautaires

Natural Justice vient de publier la version française de son prospectus sur les Protocoles Bioculturels Communautaires (PBCs). Ce prospectus fournit une définition des PBCs souvent utilisés par les peuples autochtones ainsi que les communautés locales en réponse  aux menaces et opportunités causés par le développement des terres et des ressources, la conservation, la recherche ainsi que d'autres cadres juridiques et politiques. C’est aussi un guide pratique pour l’utilisation effective d’un PBC dont l’élaboration obéit a certains principes de base notamment la promotion du dialogue intra et intercommunautaire et les échanges intergénérationnels. Un PBC accroît la capacité et l’architecture de la communauté pour s’assurer que les interactions avec les acteurs externes se déroulent dans l’honnêteté, la transparence, le respect, la sensibilité sociale et culturelle, et l’intégrité. Par ailleurs, le prospectus décrit l’expérience de diverses communautés avec les PBCs à travers le monde.  Celles-ci les utilisent pour sécuriser leurs territoires, leurs régions et leurs modes ou styles de vie.

Ainsi, les communautés ont pu utiliser les PBCs pour assurer le renforcement des institutions coutumières et des organisations communautaires au Ghana ; la cartographie communautaire et la documentation des modes de vie traditionnels en Malaisie ; la mobilisation de diverses communautés en réponse à une menace commune au Kenya ; le renforcement juridique des petits agriculteurs biologiques et le plaidoyer pour les droits des éleveurs en Inde ; ou encore pour dialoguer avec les entreprises responsables pour soutenir les moyens de subsistance locaux en Afrique du Sud.

Le prospectus sur les PBCs est disponible en français ici.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

LED Lab Mapping in Sariska Tiger Reserve

The team from the Law, Environment and Design (LED) Lab, a new partnership between Natural Justice and the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, visited three villages in the core area of the Sariska Tiger Reserve to begin a resource mapping process with the Gujjar community. The team was accompanied by KRAPAVIS, a local NGO. The team worked with the community on a cognitive mapping exercise where different groups gathered to fill the chart paper with their understanding of the space they lived in. These cognitive maps became an effective tool to document the injustices caused by the denial of their rights to access the forest after its declaration as a tiger reserve. The LED Lab team conducted meetings with the Gram Sabha in each village to understand the status of implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 and through this determined that knowledge of the Act was limited. The design students accordingly decided to develop a graphic novel that chronicles the different provisions of the Act and describes its interaction with potentially conflicting laws like the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The team also visited relocated villages where communities are still struggling with the dramatic transition and heard of the lack of community consultation through the relocation process. The LED team will now work towards creating a simple relocation chart that will detail options available along with experiences and challenges faced by other villages. 

Read more about the visit to Sariska Tiger Reserve here. Learn more about the LED Lab here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

RRI Reports on Secure Land Tenure

The Rights and Resources Initiative has released two ground-breaking reports highlighting the importance of secure land tenure in broader national and international law and policy and for investors. 

“Landowners or Laborers: What choice will developing countries make?” considers the implications of policies, especially in Africa, that seek rapid development by ceding control of land and resources to external actors. It contrasts these policies with the successes of China and Brazil, which have achieved advances through establishing local property rights rather than undercutting them. It further summarises the state of resources and rights globally, and identifies the key choices and challenges faced by developing countries in 2012. The report can be downloaded here

“The Financial Risks of Insecure Land Tenure: An Investment View” considers the assumption that cheap land can be acquired to derive high profits easily. The report challenges this view, arguing that exploiting land with disputed tenure rights leads to significant risks. The paper can be downloaded here.