Addressing unforeseen threats and opportunities with the Strategic Response Mechanism
Unforeseen threats to indigenous and community land rights can arise quickly and require rapid action to be countered effectively. Just as rapidly, critical windows of opportunity to secure rights can appear–and if not seized, can easily be lost.
The Strategic Response Mechanism (SRM) is designed to enable timely, flexible responses to these unforeseen opportunities and threats. It complements RRI’s annual planning process by allowing for rapid response to unexpected and time-limited opportunities. Up to US$100,000 can be dispersed to grantees in as quickly as a few weeks, allowing Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) to be effective in shifting political landscapes.
This Strategic Response Mechanism provided financial support to the Legal Defense Institute (IDL) of Peru in support of communities affected by the 2014 Norperuano pipeline oil spill. IDL worked to ensure that the reparations for damages and health care ordered by the judicial court ruling actually reached the affected communities in Loreto, Peru.
In June 2014, 2,500 barrels of oil from the Norperuano Pipeline spilled in Peru’s Loreto region, severely impacting the Indigenous Cuninico, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Nueva Esperanza communities, among others. These communities have lived in the Amazon Forest region and stewarded the land for generations. The spill, which occurred in the Cuninico River, has impacted their ability to grow crops and access clean water. The communities worked together, with the support of the IDL, to file a case against Peru’s Health Ministry (MINSA) and the regional government of Loreto in order to request specialized health care for the communities affected by the oil spill.
IDL designed and implemented a community-led health plan for four of the communities affected by the 2014 spill of 2,500 barrels of oil.
IDL also led a successful campaign to raise public awareness on progress in compliance with the court’s rulings and published a document outlining the process of monitoring and enforcing ruling compliance.
Their efforts resulted in 17 media stories being published about their struggle, including Wayka’s “The tragedy after an oil spill has a woman’s face”, featuring video interviews with community members. The impact was also documented by AIDA, Diario La Republica, Servindi, and Expreso, among others. Public pressure is extremely important and a way communities can help ensure regional governments and judicial bodies adhere to hearing schedules and protocols.
IDL produced a report on the valorization of damages in the community—both ecological and economic—sharing this information with community members, judicial officials, and PetroPerú. With this information, the affected communities are more equipped to reach a fair agreement with Petroperú throughout the compensation negotiations.
With RRI’s support, the Epistema Institute published six policy briefs on strategic issues of land tenure reform in response to the Indonesian land bill. The institute was also able to hold several meetings with Parliament legal drafters and experts as well as with Parliament Commissions and conduct regular information meetings with civil society organizations.
With funding from the SRM, RRI contributed to a thematic report on criminalization and attacks against Indigenous Peoples. The report includes recommendations addressed to states, corporations, CSOs, and IPs on measures needed to protect indigenous communities from criminalization and end impunity. The report was successfully submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and can be found here: www.theyshouldhaveknownbetter.com.
SRM funding supported Indigenous Peruvian communities affected by a 2014 oil spill in their ancestral territory through workshops, conversations, information gathering, and compliance monitoring. With RRI’s support, the Legal Defense Institute is working to ensure compliance with the Judicial ruling ordering the Regional Health Directorate of the Regional Government of Loreto to design, implement and finance a health plan for Indigenous communities.
For context, in 2014, 2500 barrels of oil spilled from the Norperuano Pipeline in the Cuninico ravine of Loreto (Peru). In 2015, OEFA concluded that Petroperú was responsible for the potential damage to the health of native communities because of the spill. In 2016, Cuninico’s leader participated in a public hearing of the IACHR, which ratified this ruling. In 2018, the Civil Chamber confirmed the sentence and ordered to design an emergency public health strategy to the affected communities. In January 2021 the Constitutional Court sided with the Indigenous communities, a historic victory.
RRI is supporting the town of Cofán, Eduador to protect the Indigenous community after six Petro Ecuador oil wells were built without community consultation. The wells significantly impacted the community as they cut through the center of their territory. PetroEcuador has shown no signs of intent to negotiate, and the community is bracing for armed conflict. Activities expected to be completed with SRM funding included:
Leading the legal action against the Ecuadorian government based on the violation of the community’s FPIC rights.
Organizing online and in-person workshops to inform community members on the legal action needed.
Promoting communications campaigns to raise awareness and impact to influence local and national authorities.
Implementor ASOMCAUCA (Association of Afro-descendant Women of Northern Cauca)
Funding Amount $100,000
RRI is supporting the Association of Afro-descendant Women of Northern Cauca in its fight to to gain recognition and protection of Afro-descendant community conservation systems in the Pacific Cauca region in Colombia. Activities began in December 2021, but will be ongoing until 2023 and include:
Organization of assembly for the socialization and discussion of the project with the communities for approval of the workplan.
Identification, delimitation, and mapping of conservation areas in each Community Council.
Holding assemblies for each of the Community Councils to officiate the areas to be conserved.
Organization of follow-ups, evaluations, and monitoring of activities to track the evolution of the process in each area, to gather lessons learned, and to plan next steps.