In accordance with Article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, States Parties to the Charter are required to submit every two years, a report on the legislative or other measures taken, with a view to giving effect to the rights and freedoms recognised and guaranteed by the Charter.
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.
Fifteen organisations working with indigenous women, including Forest Peoples Programme, have joined forces to emphasise the injustice and multiple forms of discrimination suffered by indigenous women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the Committee). States are required to submit reports to the Committee every four years, describing legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures they have adopted to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (the Convention). The DRC’s report will be examined by the Committee on 11 July 2013 in the presence of a delegation of Congolese government representatives. The proceedings can be watched live online at: http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/.
The considerable threats faced by the forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to draw global attention because of the crucial role these large forests play in regulating the global climate. Estimates indicate that the forests of the Congo Basin as a whole capture and store about 10 to 30 billion tons of carbon, an increasingly significant ecosystem service in light of concerns about climate change. In recent years, projects aimed at the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) have been developed to provide financial incentives based on performance to the owners of large areas of forests in order to reduce the loss of forests and promote the improvement of carbon stocks through conservation and tree planting.
In 2011, the private Canadian company Ecosystem Restorations Associates (ERA) signed a management contract with the government of the DRC for a former logging concession of almost 300,000 hectares that adjoins the western reaches of Lac Mai Ndombe in Bandundu Province. The aim of this agreement was to prepare the concession for sales of carbon on the international market. Up to 50% of this concession overlaps the customary lands of local and indigenous communities. ERA is now in partnership with Wildlife Works, a large REDD+ project development and management company.
Whenever someone remarks that a solution is being frustrated by ‘lack of political will’, I automatically ask myself: whose is the political will and what are the interests pushing for the opposite?
In July and August 2012, three civil society organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - Actions pour les Droits, l'Environnement et la Vie (ADEV), the Centre d’Accompagnement des Autochtones Pygmées et Minoritaires Vulnérables (CAMV), and Cercle pour la défense de l'environnement (CEDEN) - organised a series of legal workshops in collaboration with the Forest Peoples Programme and with financial assistance from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The workshops sought to reinforce the legal capacity of these organisations and to promote a better understanding of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights to land and natural resources and of the mechanisms to advocate for and defend the rights of communities in the REDD+ process in the DRC.
In May, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), along with national partners Action pour le Developpement, l’Environnement et la Vie (ADEV) and Cercle pour la Defense de l’Environnement (CEDEN), hosted The Forest Dialogue (TFD) on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In 2011 the private Canadian company Ecosystem Restoration Associates (ERA) signed a management contract with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a former logging concession of almost 300,000 hectares that adjoins the western reaches of Lac Mai Ndombe in Bandundu Province. Carbon trading and the generation of carbon credits through forest preservation and enhancement is the main objective of the ERA project. As part of our global project targeting support to communities in REDD pilot areas, and in the DRC, in March 2012, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Cercle pour la defense de l’environnement (CEDEN) staff travelled to the region where we held meetings with the customary leaders from 6 communities living inside the ERA concession area. The objective of these meetings was to find out what was happening on the ground, and the extent to which communities were informed about goals, objectives and modus operandi of ERA staff.
In October 2011, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) conducted a survey of our local partners asking them to pinpoint key experiences and emerging lessons learned in relation to REDD+ and rights issues over the last three years. Partners who contributed include the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and Association Okani (Cameroon), CEDEN (DRC), Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Knowledge (Panama), Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana), Association of Village Leaders in Suriname, Association of Saamaka Authorities (Suriname), AIDESEP (Peru), Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (Paraguay) and Scale-up, Pusaka and FPP field staff (Indonesia). Observations and lessons are also drawn from workshops with local partners, field studies and issues stemming from indigenous peoples’ representatives in dialogues with national and international REDD+ policy-makers. Key observations and lessons are summarised below.
Forest Peoples Programme staff recently visited forest communities in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who they have been supporting since 2009 with information-sharing and consultation meetings related to REDD and conflict prevention. During training and project monitoring visits FPP and our local partner CEDEN (Cercle pour la defense de l'environnement) held public meetings with around 2000 forest people from across the Lac Tumba conservation landscape.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has recently submitted its Readiness Preparation Proposal for REDD (R-PP) to the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Considering that a successful outcome relies on ensuring effective participation by forest communities, indigenous peoples and civil society across the vast extent of the DRC's rainforest, this briefing asks: has the DRC followed best practice in this respect, as a UN agency is now claiming?
FPP: Rights, forests and climate briefing series
The Democratic Republic of Congo has recently submitted its Readiness Preparation Proposal for REDD (R-PP) to the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Considering that a successful outcome relies on ensuring effective participation by forest communities, indigenous peoples and civil society across the vast extent of the DRC's rainforest, this briefing asks: has the DRC followed best practice in this respect, as a UN agency is now claiming?
Read the Briefing by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), Centre d'accompagnement des Autochtones Pygmées et Minoritaires Vulnérables (CAMV) and Cercle pour la Défense de l'Environnement (CEDEN).