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

Syndicate content

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.

Read more

Statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Geneva, July 20, 2015

27 July, 2015

Human Rights Council
Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Eighth Session
20-24 July 2015

Item 3 of the Provisional Agenda

Follow up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP)
including the review of the Mandate of the Expert Mechanism
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Read more

New film denounces forced resettlement of Dayak peoples in Sarawak

24 July, 2015

Sarawak, Malaysia: A new film from the Borneo project, Broken Promises: Displaced by Dams,  made in conjunction of the indigenous peoples of central Sarawak and many support organisations summarises the threat posed by 17 large dams under development. Featuring interviews with numerous Dayaks and activists, the film describes the impact of previous dams, shows the strong and growing mobilisation in opposition to these impositions and calls for alternative development and energy supply systems.

Read more

RRI Study reveals India's tribal and forest communities have rights over half of its forests

23 July, 2015

NEW DELHI, INDIA (22 July 2015): A new study has revealed that India’s 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA) has the potential to recognize the rights of approximately 150 million forest dwellers on at least 40 million hectares of forested land.

Read more

Statement and Recommendations of the Indigenous Peoples' Major Group

23 July, 2015

International Indian Treaty Council

United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Eighth session July 20 – 24, 2015
Agenda Item 5: Post 2015 development agenda and Indigenous Peoples’ rights

Statement and Recommendations of the Indigenous Peoples' Major Group

Final Draft of the Outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post 2015 Development Agenda

Read more

Report on the grave and persistent violation of indigenous peoples' rights in Costa Rica

16 July, 2015

This report addresses the pattern of pervasive, long-standing and inter-connected violations or denials of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Republic of Costa Rica, and the ongoing situation of impunity in which they occur and persist.

Read more

Report on the situation of indigenous tribal peoples in Suriname

16 July, 2015

A Report on the Situation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Suriname and Comments on Suriname’s 13th ‐ 15th Periodic Reports (CERD/C/SUR/13‐15)

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 87th Session (2015)

by

The Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname
The Association of Saramaka Authorities
The Forest Peoples Programme

14 July 2015

Read more

Request for consideration of the situation of indigenous peoples of the Aru Islands, Indonesia

16 July, 2015

In order to avoid imminent and irreparable harm, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), the national indigenous peoples’ organization of Indonesia, and Forest Peoples Programme respectfully request that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) considers the situation of the Aru indigenous peoples of the Aru Islands District, Moluccas Province, under the its early warning and urgent action procedure.

Read more

Indonesia: President renews his pledge to protect indigenous peoples’ rights

7 July, 2015

7th July 2015: In a recent meeting with the national indigenous peoples’ alliance (AMAN), the Indonesian President vowed to support the Bill on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, which has languished in the legislature for several years.  He also committed to setting up a Task Force on Indigenous Peoples and promised to release indigenous persons unfairly criminalized for pursuing their livelihoods.

Read more