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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Realizing Indigenous Women's Rights: CEDAW and Indigenous Women

Helen Tugendhat & Eleanor Dictaan-Bang-oa

21 March, 2014

Realizing Indigenous Women's Rights: CEDAW and Indigenous Women

A guide to using CEDAW to defend and protect the rights of indigenous women, published by the Asian Indigenous Women's Network (AIWN), Tebtebba Foundation and the Forest Peoples Programme.

To read the publication please click here

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Indigenous woman representatives attend the CSW58 as a part of global indigenous leaders

21 March, 2014

Kapeeng Foundation

The fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 21 March 2014. Like each year, this year thousands of civil society activists, representatives of member states, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world attended the session under a priority theme “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls”.

Global indigenous women leaders also came from across the world to share their stories of marginalization and deprivation, to exchange ideas, make connections and push for change following some advocacy process of caucuses, side events, high-level round table events, morning and evening debriefing, lobby with government delegations to include language in the Agreed Conclusion.

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Indonesia: palm oil comany and army kill villager as land conflict escalates in PT AP in Jambi, Sumatra

8 March, 2014

In a further tragic escalation of the long running land conflict between palm oil developer PT Asiatic Persada and the local Batin Sembilan peoples, also referred to as Suku Anak Dalam, soldiers from the Indonesian army took a villager into custody in the company premises last week after which he was tortured and brutalised. When others protested, five of them were also rounded up, arrested and beaten up. Meanwhile other protesting villagers were chased away by the army repeatedly firing off their weapons.

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The rights of indigenous peoples in Cameroon

various NGO's

4 March, 2014

Supplementary report submitted further to Cameroon's third periodic report 54th ordinary session, October 2013, Banjul, Gambia.

To read the full report please click here

Pour lire la rapport en français cliquez ici

 

 

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FPP E-Newsletter February 2014 (PDF Version)

FPP

18 February, 2014

FPP E-Newsletter February 2014

Dear friends,

The UN General Assembly during its 69th session, on 22-23 September  this year, will convene a high-level plenary meeting - the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples  – to review the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) since its adoption in 2007, and to identify outstanding issues and actions pertaining to indigenous peoples and development.

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Violations of Indigenous Peoples' Territorial Rights: The Example of Costa Rica

Fergus MacKay and Alancay Morales Garro (Forest Peoples Programme)

17 February, 2014

Violations of Indigenous Peoples' Territorial Rights: The Example of Costa Rica

This study explores the issues of widespread illegal occupation of indigenous lands on a national scale. Approximately 6000 non-indigenous persons are occupying at least 43% of the areas belonging exclusively to indigenous peoples.

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Legality without justice? How to ensure that FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) achieve both

17 February, 2014

The central safeguard against unjust laws is to ensure that forest communities directly influence the content of legal reforms

This article seeks to touch base with the policy objectives of the European Union (EU)’s 2003 Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (‘FLEGT’) Action Plan, and highlight lessons learnt during Forest Peoples Programme’s EU-funded Strong Seat at the Table project.[1] With partners Centre pour l'Environnement et le Développement (Centre for the Environment and for Development, CED), FERN and ClientEarth, the ‘Strong Seat’ project supported the legal capacity of civil society partners engaged in VPA-related legal reforms in West and Central Africa.

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Indigenous Women of the Americas - Methodological and conceptual guidelines to confront situations of multiple discrimination

Multiple NGO's

17 February, 2014

Indigenous Women of the Americas

This document, presents guidelines for working with indigenous women, which were collectively created from experiences in Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. We hope that our efforts will contribute to the building of a detailed methodology to deal with discrimination against Indigenous Women both when bringing cases to justice and when conducting research.

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Indigenous women of the Americas fighting against discrimination

17 February, 2014

Workshop in Jujuy, Argentina

Indigenous and human rights organisations from across the Americas are working together to develop a specific methodology for investigating, documenting and fighting indigenous women's cases through the justice system. The organisations involved include ONIC, the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia; COAJ, the Board of Indigenous Organisations of Jujuy (Argentina); SER, Mixe People's Services (Mexico); QNW, Quebec Native Women (Canada); and AJDH, Lawyers for Justice and Human Rights (Mexico). This work is being carried out within the framework of a project called Ethnic and gender-based discrimination in the Americas: the case of indigenous women.

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