Forest Peoples Programme Supporting forest peoples’ rights

Legal & human rights

Indigenous and other forest peoples experience racial and cultural discrimination, are denied rights to lands and livelihoods, to organise and to represent themselves, and, in short, are hindered in myriad ways from fully exercising and enjoying their right to self-determination. FPP provides technical legal and related assistance to help forest peoples tackle these injustices. By supporting their organisations, nations and/or communities to understand and use national and international legal processes, we assist forest peoples to challenge violations of their rights, promote alternatives, including through legislative and other reforms, and pursue legal cases through the courts and international bodies.

Regional and international human rights mechanisms

Indigenous and other forest peoples may use regional and international human rights mechanisms to promote and seek enforcement of their rights. Strategic use of these mechanisms may address specific problems affecting individuals, communities or peoples and also contributes to the interpretation and creation of international law. In support of its partners, FPP makes extensive use of the United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the ILO, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights. In 2007, for example, the Saramaka People of central Suriname obtained a landmark judgment in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with the support of FPP's Legal and Human Rights Programme.

Country-level advocacy

Numerous actions are led at national level by forest peoples for the recognition of their human rights. Particular efforts are devoted to the effective implementation of international and regional standards and their harmonisation with national legislation. Community consultations and national and local advocacy processes can lead to submission of complaints to national human rights institutions or to litigation before national courts or tribunals, including by using human rights guaranteed by the country's constitution and international human rights law.

In Nepal, the process of drafting the new Constitution has failed to ensure that indigenous peoples are able to participate through their freely chosen representatives. Rather, the Constituent Assembly, the body tasked with drafting the new Constitution, is comprised solely of political party nominees and candidates. This was challenged in the Nepal Supreme court and was also raised with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, both in 2009 (see submission). The CERD adopted two communications under its early warning and urgent action procedures calling on Nepal to ensure effective participation by indigenous peoples in the drafting of the new constitution and that indigenous peoples consent be obtained. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Professor S. James Anaya, also conducted a country visit to Nepal in November 2008 and concluded that the procedures available for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the Constitution drafting process were incompatible with Nepal's international commitments. His report is available here. The Supreme Court of Nepal finally issued a directive in April 2013 ordering the government to consider the representation and participation of indigenous peoples in constitution making processes. Although by this time the Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting the constitution, was dissolved after it failed to reach consensus on the new constitution, this decision by the Supreme Court will be significant for future decision-making processes at government level.

The advocacy work led by indigenous peoples in Africa is another example: drawing on the African Commission on Human and Peoples' rights' report on indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples on the continent are demanding the full recognition of their rights. As many African constitutions and laws do not recognise the existence of indigenous peoples per international and regional human rights law, indigenous peoples often make extensive use of those principles at country level in order to be heard. In Kenya, for example, the African Commission ruled that the government was responsible for the violation of the Endorois indigenous people’s rights when they were evicted to make way for a wildlife reserve. This landmark ruling marked a major step forward for indigenous rights in Africa. For more information please click here.

Relevant resources

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Securing Forests, Securing rights: Report of the International Workshop on Deforestation and the Rights of Forest Peoples

5 December, 2014

Securing Forests, Securing rights: Report of the International Workshop on Deforestation and the Rights of Forest Peoples

The global forest crisis is worsening and infringements of the rights of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities are rising, according to a detailed assessment of nine country cases. Climate change mitigation and conservation policies must place community land rights and human rights centre-stage if they are to achieve the goal of sustainably reducing deforestation says the report.

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Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous Perspectives on Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon

Forest Peoples Programme
AIDESEP

4 December, 2014

Revealing the Hidden

 

The report, Revealing the Hidden: Indigenous perspectives on deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon was compiled by Peru’s national indigenous peoples’ organisation (AIDESEP) and international human rights organisation, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and is based on the analysis and perspectives of Peru’s indigenous leaders and organisations whose lives, lands and livelihoods are threatened by deforestation on a daily basis.

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IACHR Tackles Violence Against Native Peoples in Costa Rica

12 May, 2015

SAN JOSE, May 11 2015 (IPS) - After years of violence against two indigenous groups in Costa Rica, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) demanded that the government adopt measures by May 15 to protect the life and physical integrity of the members of the two communities.

The IACHR granted precautionary measures in favour of the Bribri community living in the 11,700-hectare Salitre indigenous territory, who have been fighting for years to reclaim land that has been illegally occupied by landowners.

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Indigenous Peoples in Uganda: A Review of the Human Rights Situation of the Batwa People, the Benet people and Pastoralist Communities

11 May, 2015

Alternative report to the Initial report of the Republic of Uganda to be presented at the 55th session of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 1st – 19th June 2015

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Precautionary Measures issued by Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in favor of the Teribe (Bröran) and the Bribri indigenous peoples of Costa Rica.

7 May, 2015

Due to a series of violent attacks and threats against these two indigenous peoples in the last few years, the Commission decided that the acts and omissions of the State were not adequate and ordered Costa Rica, together with the affected peoples, to take the measures necessary to better protect the lives and physical integrity of the two indigenous peoples and their members.  The State has 15 days to respond to the Commission and the Commission will continue to monitor the matter.

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Palawan: Stop Blaming Indigenous Peoples’ Farming Practices (Kaingin) for Deforestation

5 May, 2015

By Coalition against Land Grabbing and United Tribes of Palawan

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Oil Palm Free Islands

5 May, 2015

From outsiders to political representatives, the indigenous struggle in the Mentawai islands is a 20 year struggle to be heard. We learn through the eyes of Gugen, a future Indigenous leader, as he meets the villagers, shamens, newspaper & radio stations that unify these threatened islands.

Oil Palm Free Islands from Handcrafted Films on Vimeo.

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Event Report: "The Global Indigenous Movement: Past Achievements, Future Challenges"

30 April, 2015

Joji Activism 1990s

On 26th March 2015, The Social Movements and Civil Society Research Group at City University London (SMCSRG) held its third evening event, a talk on The Global Indigenous Movement: Past Achievements Future Challenges. SMCSRG was delighted to host long-time indigenous peoples’ rights activist and current Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, Joji Cariño, to speak on these themes. The event was Chaired by Dr Mauro Barelli, a Senior Lecturer specialising in minority and indigenous peoples’ rights at The City Law School.

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Webcast on the HR Monitoring Project held during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

29 April, 2015

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: Strengthening Access to Justice

24 Apr 2015 - Side event of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Click here to watch the webcast



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