News from RRI »
Forest Peoples Programme December E-Newsletter
The reason an international organisation like Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) exists is because national governments, their policies, laws and projects, don’t respect and protect the rights of forest peoples. Governments are allowing other interests, national and international, to take over forest peoples’ lands and impose schemes on them without the people having a say. FPP thus stands alongside indigenous peoples and other forest dwellers who make recourse to international fora to try to press for changes in the way their governments, and the industries they favour, deal with them. But getting governments to reform is not easy.
The articles in this newsletter illustrate this tension all too clearly. In Suriname, despite unanimity between indigenous and tribal peoples, and despite detailed judgments from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the government has backed down on its promise to pass a law recognising their rights. In Costa Rica, although UN human rights bodies have upheld their appeals, the Teribe people still face an uphill struggle to get the government to accept their voice in decision-making about the Diquis dam. Communities in Liberia and Indonesia find that their lands are being handed out by their governments to oil palm developers without their consent and are subject to harsh repression when they resist. They have had to appeal to international bodies, like the International Finance Corporation which funds such schemes, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil that certifies them, to seek redress. A regional review of the palm oil sector in Southeast Asia shows that where lands are secured and there is rule of law then oil palm develops as a smallholder crop and not as imposed plantations. The national framework is thus crucial to prevent land grabs. So it’s particularly disappointing to note that at its recent meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity, while devising a new work plan to secure ‘sustainable customary use of biological resources’, shied away from making recommendations on the need for legal reforms to recognise peoples’ rights to lands and resources. By contrast, the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights has censured UNESCO for making decisions about protected areas without the indigenous peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
Recognising the lack of national protections, the World Bank has for years insisted that its investments must abide by so-called ‘safeguard’ policies, including one on indigenous peoples (a policy all too often ignored in practice however). Now it seems that the Bank has given ground to borrower countries, which have baulked at the way these policies slow down lending, by proposing a new programme for lending huge chunks of money without safeguards being applied to the specific projects that the money will fund. Indigenous peoples and FPP are appealing against this ‘end run’.
Experiences from the ground show, as in the case of Peru, that, without safeguards, projects to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) undermine local peoples’ rights. As the indigenous peoples attending the global meeting on climate change in Durban make clear, the need is for alternative rights-based approaches that secure peoples’ rights to their lands and so prevent the destruction of their forests by outside interests.
In almost every country there are multiple layers of law – international laws, national laws and customary laws – that people use to regulate how humans relate to each other and to their environment. As a new review carried out with partners including the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact shows, international laws and customary laws are both a source of rights for forest peoples, but reforming national laws to secure these rights remains our biggest challenge.
President of Suriname shuts down land rights conference following clear demands from indigenous and tribal peoples - Indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname still open to dialogue
By the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname (VIDS)
A conference organised by the Government of Suriname on 21 and 22 October 2011, which was meant to clarify positions and proposals on land rights and build mutual understanding between the Government and indigenous and tribal (maroon) peoples, ended in a very abrupt manner. The Government even called it “a disaster” on 23 October 2011. Surprised by the massive solidarity and collaboration between the indigenous and tribal peoples of Suriname, and in a move that showed great disrespect to traditional leaders who had traveled long distances to attend the conference, the President of Suriname decided to close the conference early following the indigenous and tribal peoples’ presentation of their joint position on land and resource rights. With this, all subsequent dialogue between the indigenous and tribal peoples and the government has ceased. Read more
Progress on the Recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Rights in relation to the proposed Diquís Dam
In 2010, the Teribe indigenous people of Costa Rica decided to speak out in response to what they consider gross human rights violations to their people in relation to the proposed Diquís Dam in the country’s South Pacific region. This project will lead to the partial flooding of two indigenous territories and other grave impacts on 5 indigenous territories. In defence of their rights, the Teribe filed their first claim to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in mid 2010 and to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These actions have resulted in progress both nationally and internationally. Read more
Making Palm Oil Accountable?
Globally oil palm plantations continue to expand at a rapid rate. World leader, Indonesia, has raced past Malaysia to become the number one producer. Latest data from the Indonesian watchdog NGO, SawitWatch, suggests that oil palm plantations in Indonesia now cover 11 million hectares, up from 6 million hectares only five years ago. New plantings are spreading to the smaller islands of the archipelago and to the less developed areas of eastern Indonesia. Hopes that a Presidential promise of a 2 year moratorium on forest clearance would slow the crop’s expansion – part of a deal to reduce green house gas emissions - have also evaporated as the government has excepted areas where preliminary permits have already been handed out. Read more
CBD Working Group agrees on development of new Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use of biological resources
At the recent meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Working Group on traditional knowledge, innovations and practices (Article 8(j) and Related Provisions) , which took place in Montreal, Canada, from 31October to 4 November 2011, Forest Peoples Programme and indigenous and local community partners, alongside the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), engaged in discussions with delegates and others about the development of a new “Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use”. This Plan of Action is intended to become a new major component of the already existing Programme of Work that serves to preserve, respect and maintain indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ traditional knowledge, innovations and practices that are related to sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. Read more
World Bank controversial Programming-for-Results (P4R) proposal raises alarm bells
In March 2011, the World Bank launched a controversial proposal that would allow projects within so-called programmatic loans to borrower countries to go ahead without application of the Bank’s specific safeguard policies.Civil society organisations and indigenous peoples have raised major concerns about this initiative, which they fear in its current form would reduce the accountability of World Bank finance and could trigger a worldwide race to the bottom in social and environmental standards among multilateral and regional development banks. Despite recent written assurances from the Bank that information disclosure, risk assessment and safeguard approaches will not be weakened by P4R, critics point out that the existing P4R proposals do not contain adequate social and environmental protections and would allow countries to side-step safeguards and develop projects without adequate public scrutiny. NGOs and indigenous peoples’ organisations, including FPP, are calling on the Bank to slow the whole process down and ensure that any P4R proposals are the subject of meaningful consultations and tied to the Bank’s wider safeguard policy review which will be ongoing in 2012. Read more
Statement of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on climate change to the Conference of Parties COP17, November 2011
Read the full statement here.
New FPP Publications
FPP has published two new publications; 'Oil Palm Expansion in South East Asia: Trends and implications for local communities and indigenous peoples' and 'Divers paths to justice: Legal pluralism and the rights of indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia'. Read more
New Forest Peoples Programme Report: The reality of REDD+ in Peru: Between theory and practice. Indigenous Amazonian peoples’ analyses and alternatives
This report compiled by national and regional indigenous organisations in Peru (AIDESEP, FENAMAD, CARE) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), collates indigenous peoples’ experiences with REDD policies and projects in the Peruvian Amazon. The report analyses the policies and strategies of the Peruvian government, examines the roles of international agencies and scrutinises pilot REDD initiatives already underway in indigenous territories. Read more
African Commission: FPIC is essential for protected status on indigenous lands
At its 50th Session, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) adopted a resolution condemning the recent decision of the World Heritage Committee to inscribe Lake Bogoria in Kenya on the World Heritage List. The issue at stake was the almost complete lack of involvement of the Endorois (the indigenous owners of the territory) in the decision-making process. This is particularly problematic in light of the African Commission’s earlier decision on the case of Centre for Minority Rights Development (Kenya) and Minority Rights Group International on behalf of Endorois Welfare Council v Kenya adopted at the 46th Ordinary Session held from 11–25 November 2009 in Banjul, The Gambia, and endorsed by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in February 2010. This earlier decision and the recent resolution both emphasize that the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) must be adhered to in the lands and territories of indigenous peoples. Failing to involve indigenous peoples in decision-making processes and failing to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent constitutes a violation of their right to development under Article 22 of the African Charter, and other international laws. Read more
Indigenous peoples make powerful statements at African Commission session
Many statements from indigenous peoples organisations were made on the occasion of the 50th African Commission session held in Banjul in October 2011. As well as the implementation of the 2010 African Commission’s decision regarding the Endorois in Kenya, the situation of indigenous women in Burundi and Kenya were addressed. Burundi was also examined under the state reporting procedure, which raised issues pertaining to the rights of indigenous peoples. Read more
For twenty-one years Forest Peoples Programme has supported the rights of forest peoples throughout the world. To make a donation towards our work please click here
We hope that you have enjoyed this issue of the Forest Peoples Programme newsletter. We welcome your comments and suggestions, please email ForestPeoplesProgramme@forestpeoples.org
Forest Peoples Programme
1c Fosseway Business Centre
Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9NQ
Tel: +44 (0)1608 652893 www.forestpeoples.org
Charity Registration Number: 1082158 A company limited by guarantee (England & Wales) Reg. No. 3868836
Posted By Angela Strader at 12:35pm on December 08, 2011
This blog may contain links to external websites. These links should not be construed as endorsements by Rights and Resources of the content present. They are provided for informational purposes only.