At the end of three intense days of discussion, exchange and drafting, representatives from the Ik, Tepeth, Batwa, Benet and Ngikarimajong have released the Kisoro Memorandum, a definitive statement of their rights and expectations for support from their government and from other actors, including the UN system.
What are the prospects for securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, and women in the foreseeable future?
Significantly, the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, under Goal 1 to “End Poverty”, sets a target to “Increase by x% the share of women and men, communities, and businesses with secure rights to land, property, and other assets”.
Mutual recognition, mutual respect and mutual benefit are among the desirable attributes of all human relationships. Indigenous peoples and other forest peoples also expect these qualities in their relationships with others – be they governments, private corporations, NGOs or other indigenous peoples’ organisations and communities. This issue of Forest Peoples Programme’s E-Newsletter reports on the state of various relationships between forest peoples and different institutions – as these are forged, tested or broken –in the course of assertions for upholding basic human rights, social justice and solidarity.
FPP and Natural Justice organised a joint submission to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in response to a request for contributions from Parties and stakeholders about the CBD’s programme of work that deals with traditional knowledge about biodiversity (Article 8j).
The importance of ensuring respect for the rights of forest peoples’ to control their forests, lands and livelihoods, becomes ever clearer and yet more contested. As the articles in this edition of our newsletter starkly reveal, land and resource grabs are not just being imposed by commercial developers but are being actively promoted by governments, whose principle responsibility should be to protect the rights of citizens. Yet these same impositions are also being resisted, sometimes at great personal cost, by local communities and indigenous peoples.
Uganda's first Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling Project was organised in 2011 in Kisoro by the Batwa, former hunter-gatherers who were evicted from two national parks 20 years ago. Watch the video here.
In 2009 a group of Batwa representatives from Uganda travelled to Ogiek communities in Kenya to learn about their situation and the different advocacy strategies they were using. One of these strategies was the use of Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), which helped the Ogiek engage Kenyan agencies on their rights to their ancestral territory, the Mau Forest. The Batwa walked away from this visit impressed by the simplicity of the P3DM technique and hopeful of replicating it in their own context.
Two years later in June 2011, the Batwa, with support from the ARCUS Foundation, began their own three-dimensional modelling of their ancestral territory, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. More than 100 representatives from the Batwa communities surrounding Bwindi, including youth, elders, women and men attended the exercise over a three-week period.
Indigenous peoples’ representatives met with Chairs of Commissions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other conservation organizations, for a high-level dialogue during the Sharing Power conference, in Whakatane, New Zealand, on January 13th, 2011. IUCN agreed to review the implementation of resolutions related to indigenous peoples taken at the 4th World Conservation Congress (WCC4) in 2008, in Barcelona, Spain, and to advance their implementation. These resolutions, along with the Durban Action Plan and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), are often termed as the “new conservation paradigm”. They are crucial for ensuring that conservation practices respect the rights of indigenous peoples and their full and effective participation in policy and practice. Unfortunately, the actual implementation of these decisions in support of indigenous peoples has been very patchy. The information gathered by the IUCN review processes will feed into its 2013-2016 Programme, to be discussed and adopted in September 2012 in Jeju, Republic of Korea.
Specifically, the meeting participants agreed that IUCN will:
· Reinforce its multi-level process (encompassing international, regional, national and local levels) to assess and advance the implementation of the “new conservation paradigm”. This process would focus on specific WCC4 resolutions relevant to indigenous peoples.
· Implement pilot assessments of protected areas at the local level that should be carried out by teams composed of indigenous peoples, IUCN national and international offices, government officials and other relevant actors. The pilot assessments should specify recommendations to address gaps between the observed practices and the ‘new conservation paradigm’. The findings will be reported in national workshops, which will then explore ways to implement the recommendations from the assessments. The assessments would also bring examples of successful projects and best practices to the international community.
· Carry out a review of the implementation of each of the WCC4 resolutions relevant to indigenous peoples, based on information from commissions and regional and global thematic programmes. This review will identify gaps and make recommendations to address them, which will be included in IUCN’s 2013-2016 Programme.
· Submit reports on these matters to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the CBD.
· Spread awareness of WCC4 resolutions on indigenous peoples to all national IUCN offices.
· Improve the coordination between regional and national IUCN offices and indigenous peoples’ organizations.
Will conservation organisations finally take practical action to implement agreed commitments that recognise the rights of indigenous peoples in protected areas?
Part of FPP's series on Forest Peoples and Protected Areas focusing on Uganda Eight country studies and a synthesis report review the progress of the application of indigenous peoples’ rights with regards to protected areas since 2003.
A review of Uganda's implementation of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas as part of FPP series on Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas