July 2011

Towards a People’s History of the Law: Biocultural Jurisprudence and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing
Kabir Bavikatte and Daniel F. Robinson
Law, Environment and Development Journal 7/1 (2011)

The authors’ analysis of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS comes from an understanding of the law as a “site of struggle” where different groups lobby for their interests. Some of these groups are clearly more powerful than others, which explains the reticence of State law regarding rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. However, they consider critical to acknowledge that power begets resistance and that indigenous peoples and local communities have not just been passive victims of the law but on the contrary have fought strategic and pitched battles to stem and sometimes turn the legal tide. In this context, the authors analyze the Nagoya Protocol with the aid of three guiding questions: what was the status quo prior to the Nagoya Protocol; what did indigenous peoples and local communities seek to achieve through the Protocol and how did they go about doing this; and what is the outcome of these community efforts in the Nagoya Protocol. In answering these questions, they also attempt to map the emerging biocultural rights of indigenous peoples and local communities under the CBD, as well as their struggles specifically within the CBD Working Groups on ABS and on Article 8(j), aiming to trace the trajectory of the activism of indigenous peoples and local communities in the CBD processes. Download the article [pdf] …

International Polar Year 2012 Conference – From Knowledge to Action
22-27 April 2012 (Montreal, Canada)

The IPY 2012 Conference From Knowledge to Action will be one of the largest scientific conferences for polar science and climate change, and will provide the opportunity to address challenges, share and apply knowledge of the Polar Regions, and discuss findings and solutions for adapting to global change. The Conference is now accepting abstracts for oral and poster presentations. The abstract submission deadline is 30 September 2011. It is noted in the conference programme that the terms “knowledge” and “action” are used broadly and are intended to cover knowledge (scientific, indigenous and practitioners’ knowledge) and action (policy, decision making, economic development, innovation etc) in all their forms. Conference themes of particular relevance to indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge include: past, present and future changes in the Polar Regions; polar ecosystems, biodiversity and effects of human activities; polar changes: health, society, culture and resources; the knowledge-action interface; polar knowledge in action in sectors and projects; realizing knowledge-to-action in policies, management and decision-making processes at all levels; and enhancing knowledge to action: moving forward on maintaining collaborations and integrating knowledge. Visit the conference website … Read the call for abstracts … Read the proposed conference programme …

Smoke and mirrors: A critical assessment of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility
Kate Dooley, Tom Griffiths, Francesco Martone and Saskia Ozinga
FERN and Forest Peoples Programme (February 2011) | ISBN: 978-1-906607-15-9

In December 2007 the World Bank launched its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to act as a catalyst to promote public and private investment in REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). This report finds that the FCPF fails to fulfil its social and environmental commitments, while national REDD Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PPs) lack sufficient plans for policy and legal reforms that would uphold forest peoples’ rights, improve forest governance and reduce deforestation. The R-PPs analyzed in the report appear to lack effective measures to clarify and strengthen land tenure rights, do not support free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and side-step much needed legal and policy reforms. Based on a critical review of FCPF documents and analyses of eight of the fifteen national R-PPs, submitted to the FCPF as of January 2011, the key findings of this review are:

  • It is unclear whether specific FCPF safeguard measures are mandatory requirements or are optional at different stages of the REDD process. Rather than strengthening and implementing the Bank’s safeguards, the FCPF has created a dense set of guidelines that overlook serious weaknesses in national legal frameworks, especially relating to respect for customary rights, FPIC and related land demarcation and titling procedures.
  • Most R-PPs rely on biased analyses of the causes of deforestation that blame indigenous peoples and local communities for forest loss and damage, without justification.
  • National consultations on draft R-PPs have been either non-existent or inadequate, and core observations and proposals of forest peoples are being disregarded or only given superficial treatment, in particular recommendations relating to land and territorial rights.
  • All the R-PPs reaffirm state ownership over forest lands and most focus on valuation and monitoring of forest carbon to the exclusion of livelihood, biodiversity and cultural values.
  • Though R-PPs acknowledge the need for governance reforms, most confine this to the establishment of new government institutions to oversee REDD and related forest and climate programmes.
  • R-PPs reviewed show a narrow focus on carbon measurement an monitoring, while they lack a detailed analysis of the drivers of deforestation and governance failures, and don’t address key rights and livelihood issues that should be dealt with in forest and climate initiatives.

This review concludes that with key causes of forest loss not being sufficiently addressed, failing consultation processes, a focus on measuring carbon at the cost of improving governance and a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of safeguards, it is difficult to see how the national plans emerging from the FCPF funded R-PPs will contribute to reducing forest loss and ensuring respect for human rights. Download the report [pdf] …

Free, Prior and Informed Consent in REDD+: Principles and Approaches for Policy and Project Development
Patrick Anderson
RECOFTC and GIZ (February 2011) | ISBN: 978-616-90845-0-1

This publication is targeted at people concerned with the design and implementation of REDD+ projects or programs, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. The audience includes independent community facilitators or advisors; indigenous and local community leaders; local government staff; project staff/liaison officers; private sector investors; and NGO facilitators, advocates and activists. Divided into three main sections, the publication begins with an overview of REDD+ and the importance of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). Next is a quick reference section that describes the development of a process that respects FPIC and summarizes key information. The final guidelines section provides more detailed information on twelve aspects or ‘elements’ of a generic process to respect the right of indigenous peoples and local communities to FPIC. Respecting the right to FPIC is, by definition, a locally and culturally specific process in which the affected communities themselves determine the steps involved. It is therefore not possible to produce a universally applicable ‘how to do it’ guideline. This publication provides a basis for more specialized information and training materials, targeted at specific audiences in appropriate languages. It provides guidance on the issues that a REDD+ project proponent or policy developer should raise with affected groups to ensure that their right to FPIC is respected. It also aims to set out the elements of a robust process for obtaining a community’s FPIC and to highlight areas where there is still debate and uncertainty. Download the document [pdf] …

Mammalian diversity and Matses ethnomammalogy in Amazonian Peru – Part 1: Primates
Robert S. Voss and David W. Fleck
Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, No.  351 (April 2011) | ISSN 0003-0090

This report is the first installment of a monographic study of mammalian diversity and ethnomammalogy in a sparsely inhabited rainforest region between the Yavarí and Ucayali rivers in northeastern Peru. It is based on several large collections of mammals (totaling about 3500 specimens) made at various localities in this region between 1926 and 2003, and on a long-term ethnobiological and linguistic fieldwork with the Matses, a Panoan-speaking group of indigenous Amazonians who still obtain most of their dietary protein by hunting mammals. The primary objectives are to document the species richness of the regional fauna through taxonomic analysis of collected specimens, and to assess the detail and accuracy of Matses knowledge of mammalian natural history by linguistic analysis of recorded interviews. The regional fauna is unique because neighboring interfluvial regions lack some species that are present in the Yavarí-Ucayali interfluve, and because some species that are present in neighboring interfluvial regions are not known to occur between the Yavarí and the Ucayali. Matses knowledge about primate natural history is clearly correlated with size and cultural importance. Item-by-item comparisons of Matses observations about spider monkeys with the published results of scientific field research suggests that the Matses are generally accurate observers of primate natural history, a conclusion that is additionally supported by comparing community patterns of resource use compiled from our interview data with community-ecological studies of primate faunas in the scientific literature. Most exceptions (discrepancies between Matses observations and the scientific literature) can be explained by cultural inattention to small non-game species. Although these results suggest that archiving native Amazonian knowledge about mammalian natural history might be a cost-effective alternative to lengthy fieldwork for some research objectives, there are significant linguistic barriers than can inhibit effective cross-cultural communication. Read the abstract … Download the study [pdf] …

Fourth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
11-15 July 2011 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The fourth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a mechanism established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2007 and made up of five independent experts on the rights of indigenous peoples, focused on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision making. The EMRIP final study on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision making presents examples of good practices of indigenous peoples’ participation in different levels of decision making, including sections on: indigenous peoples’ internal decision-making processes and institutions; and participation in decision-making mechanisms linked to State and non-State institutions and processes affecting indigenous peoples. Examples of indigenous decision-making can be found in indigenous management of resources in indigenous conservation areas and territories. Successful practices include those where indigenous decision-making processes and traditional knowledge are respected by the community and by other authorities. For instance, the sasi system used in Haruku, Indonesia, where generations of kewang or indigenous institutions organize the community to remain committed and united in managing fish stocks and other important coastal resources, is exemplary. At the same time, direct indigenous participation in the implementation of international instruments designed to protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples is to be commended. For example,Argentina established the Indigenous Participation Council with a mandate to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples in the alignment of domestic legislation with ILO Convention no. 169. The Expert Mechanism advice no. 2 (2011) on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision-making is annexed to the study.

Natural Justice has reported on some of the lunch-time events held during the session, addressing: indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and intellectual property; treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and indigenous peoples within the UN system; free, prior and informed consent: difficulties and successes with transnational corporations; and community governance and stewardship of traditional territories and biocultural diversity. Visit the session’s website … Download the advance edited version of the EMRIP final report on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision making [pdf] … Read the NJ post on the event on indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and intellectual property … Read the NJ post on the event on arrangements between States and indigenous peoples within the UN system … Read the NJ post on the event on FPIC and transnational corporations … Read the NJ post on the event on community governance of traditional territories and biocultural diversity …

Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility: 2011 Call for Proposals
IFAD, July 2011

The Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) invites applications from indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities as well as organizations that work with them for grants to fund projects, innovative approaches and partnerships. Activities likely to be considered for funding will build on indigenous culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, intellectual property and human rights. Projects should improve indigenous peoples’ access to decision-making processes, empower indigenous peoples to find solutions to the challenges they face and promote collaboration in the public and private sectors. Grants range from US$20,000 to US$50,000. Applicants must meet specific requirements and their proposals should respond to the needs of indigenous peoples in any of IFAD’s developing Member States. The deadline for applications is 31 August 2011. Proposals should be submitted online to: https://webapps.ifad.org/ipaft/login. Further information … Download the call for proposals [pdf] … Download the guideline for completing the application [pdf] … Download the application form [doc] …

Report on the tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
SPFII, July 2011

UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK: The report on the tenth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has been made available online. The report includes draft decisions recommended by the UNPFII for adoption by ECOSOC, including on organizing an international expert group meeting on combating violence against indigenous women and girls, and holding UNPFII-11 from 7-18 May 2012 in New York; as well as the Forum’s recommendations on possible future action to be taken by States, entities of the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, indigenous peoples, the private sector and NGOs regarding, among other issues, economic and social development, the environment, and free, prior and informed consent. Download the report [pdf] …  

Next Page »