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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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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Inspirational People - Silas Siakor and community mapping in Liberia

Handcrafted Films

15 January, 2015

Silas Siakor, environmental activist and Goldman Prize Winner, and the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) have been working on community mapping throughout Liberia for many years. Their work is helping transform natural resource management so that the benefits are shared equally and also helping empower communities to contribute towards decision making and management of these resources. This is their journey.

Read SDI's opinion piece here: http://www.ifnotusthenwho.me/story/silas-siakor-community-mapping/

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'Our Fight' - Defending the forest and paying the ultimate sacrifice

15 January, 2015

On 1st September 2014 Edwin Chota and three indigenous Asheninka leaders were murdered while defending their forests.

Through their widows, family and friends we learn about their on going fight for land titling in Peru. This story is one of many examples of Indigenous Peoples defending the forest and paying the ultimate sacrifice, launched just ahead of COP20 in Lima.

You can find other short films on a similar issue at If Not Us Then Who: http://www.ifnotusthenwho.me/

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Venezuela: indigenous peoples appeals to President to halt ‘neo-slavery’ in illegal mines in Caura

12 January, 2015

The Ye’kuana and Sanema indigenous peoples of the Caura River in Estado Bolivar have again appealed to President Maduro of Venezuela, to halt the sub-human conditions to which they are being subjected in the illegal mines on the river. They claim there are now some 3,000 illegal miners operating in the Yuruani river an affluent of the Caura above the high waterfall of Salto Para, which hitherto had kept the headwaters of the river system among the best conserved in the whole Orinoco basin.

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Indonesia: Government REDD+ agency says collective land rights are key to curbing climate change

7 January, 2015

In an article published in the Jakarta Post, senior officials of the Indonesian REDD+ Agency (the government body charged with reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) argue that recognising the collective land rights of forest peoples is key to curbing climate change and promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

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Congo Basin communities and NGOs mobilise in response to growing palm oil threat in the region

5 January, 2015

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), local communities, and Indigenous people groups in the Congo Basin have convened to address the emerging challenges of palm oil development in the region. Hosted by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in Douala, Cameroon, meetings were held from December 2-4, 2014 attended by nearly 40 civil society experts and community leaders from over 25 organizations. Insightful presentations were made, and strategic reflections and discussions took place in order to address communities' challenges related to palm oil expansion in the region.

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Situación de Salitre no es aislada, 71% de los territorios indígenas son ocupados ilegalmente, por lo menos en un 40%

17 December, 2014

Violaciones de los Derechos Territoriales de los Pueblos Indígenas: El Ejemplo de Costa Rica

crhoy.com

Los problemas entre indígenas del territorio de Salitre y finqueros, que aseguran haber comprado tierras en la zona, no son un hecho aislado en el país. Sólo dos territorios indígenas costarricenses -Telire, en Talamanca y Tayní, en Valle de La Estrella- son ocupados al 100 por ciento por indígenas.

Un estudio realizado por la organización internacional y con representación en el país, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), desnuda que el 71% de los territorios indígenas son ocupados ilegalmente, mínimo en un 40%.

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Venezuela: indigenous women speak out against miners and armed insurgents

16 December, 2014

Two indigenous women’s organisations in the Venezuelan State of Amazonas have denounced the activities of armed groups who identify themselves as Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and who are working with illegal miners in the Autana area.

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