February 2013


Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent
UN-REDD Programme, February 2013

These guidelines outline a normative, policy and operational framework for seeking and obtaining free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in the context of REDD+. They are the result of a series of regional and international consultations with indigenous peoples, forest-dependent communities, practitioners and experts, and further analysis, pilot-testing and consensus-building. The document is defined as a “working final” version, meaning that there will be periodic updates to this version, based on the application of the guidelines, increased informa­tion and experience related to the application of FPIC more generally, and continued input and feedback from governments, indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities, practitioners and experts. The guidelines address: a definition of the elements of FPIC; the UN-REDD programme policy on applying FPIC including what is required of partner countries, when is FPIC required and at what level it is applied, who seeks and who gives consent, and what should be the outcome of the FPIC process; the operational framework for seeking FPIC; and national-level grievance mechanisms. A list of annexes address, among other issues, indicative steps for a REDD+ process to respect the principle of FPIC, the role of facilitators, and tools and resources. The guidelines are accompanied by a “legal companion” providing details on international law and jurisprudence related to FPIC.

It is noted that international law has now recognized that FPIC is a legal norm imposing clearing affirmative duties and obligations on States. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) includes seven provisions expressly recognizing the duty of States to secure FPIC from indigenous peoples in circumstances ranging from population relocations, the taking of cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property, any damages, occupation and uses of their lands, territories and resources, before “adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures,” and prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. The UNDRIP elaborates on the application to indigenous peoples of human rights already affirmed extensively in treaties ratified by the majority of States. As such, to the extent that the duties and obligations as expressed in UNDRIP as already binding on States, they merely need to look to the Declaration to assist them in understanding how such rights might be protected for indigenous peoples as collectives, as well as their individual members. In addition, international courts and human rights bodies in Africa and the Americas have made it clear that regional human rights instruments recognize States’ duties and obligations to secure FPIC.

Putting REDD+ Safeguards and Safeguard Information Systems Into Practice
UN-REDD Programme, February 2013

The UN-REDD programme has also released a report titled “Putting REDD+ Safeguards and Safeguard Information Systems Into Practice,” which highlights policy considerations related to country-level safeguard systems in line with the UNFCCC Cancun Agreement. The report provides a framework and information on instruments to assist countries in the development of effective and efficient REDD+ safeguards. It considers a number of steps in the development of safeguard systems for REDD+ including: defining social and environmental objectives; assessing potential benefits and risks from REDD+; assessing current safeguard systems; drafting a strategic plan or policy; and establishing a governance system.

Download the guidelines on FPIC [pdf] … Download the legal companion to the UN-REDD Programme guidelines on FPIC: international law and jurisprudence affirming the requirement of FPIC [pdf] … Download the report on country-level safeguard systems [pdf] …

Twelfth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
20-31 May 2013 (UN Headquarters, New York)

Online pre-registration for UNPFII-12 is now open, until 1 May 2013. The meeting’s agenda includes: follow-up on UNPFII recommendations with regard to health, education and culture; half-day discussion on the African region; discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; UNDRIP implementation; dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; a comprehensive dialogue with UN agencies and funds; and future work. Visit the meeting’s webpage …

Customary Justice: Perspectives on Legal Empowerment
Janine Ubink (ed)
University of Leiden Faculty of Law, IDLO, 2011 | ISBN 978-88-96155-06-6

This edited volume explores the relationship between traditional justice and legal empowerment. It discusses key aspects of traditional justice, including the rise of customary law in justice sector reform, the effectiveness of hybrid justice systems, access to justice through community courts, customary law and land tenure, land rights and nature conservation, and the analysis of policy proposals for justice reforms based on traditional justice. Download the book [pdf] …

Working with Customary Justice Systems: Post-conflict and Fragile States
Erica Harper (ed)
IDLO, 2011 | ISBN 978-88-96155-05-9

This edited volume showcases research conducted under the IDLO Legal Empowerment and Customary Law Research Grants Program. Through this program, seven bursaries were awarded to scholar-practitioners to evaluate the impact of an empowerment-based initiative involving customary justice. The volume aims to assist readers develop a better understanding of the relationship between customary justice and the legal empowerment of users and identify possible entry points for engaging with customary justice systems. It features chapters on initiatives implemented in Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Liberia and Uganda. It is hoped that the lessons learned and programmatic good practices identified will contribute to the toolbox of knowledge resources that programmers draw upon as they design, pilot, adjust and implement more effective interventions. Download the book [pdf] …

Customary Justice: from Program Design to Impact Evaluation
Erica Harper
IDLO, 2011 | ISBN 978-88-96155-04-2

This volume was developed to provide guidance to international and national actors on the potential role of customary justice systems in fostering the rule of law and access to justice in post-conflict, post-disaster and development contexts. Specifically, it aims to provoke thought among practitioners about the objectives of customary law interventions, to encourage critical assessments of the criteria on which programming decisions are made, and to provide tools to assist in gauging the extent to which interventions are having a positive impact. Download the book [pdf] …

Nature and Culture: Rebuilding Lost Connections
Sarah Pilgrim and Jules N. Pretty (eds)
Routledge, January 2013 | ISBN (paperback): 978-0-415-81354-9

This book investigates the bridges linking biological and cultural diversity. An international team of authors explores the common drivers of loss, and argues that policy responses should target both forms of diversity in a novel integrative approach to conservation, thus reducing the gap between science, policy and practice. While conserving nature alongside human cultures presents unique challenges, this book shows that any hope for saving biological diversity is predicated on a concomitant effort to appreciate and protect cultural diversity. Further information …

Technology in the service of cultural diversity
The Philippine Star, 14 February 2013

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: This article reports on an initiative to document the healing traditions of indigenous and local communities in the Philippines, undertaken the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care, and the National Institute of Health of the University of the Philippines Manila. Documentation of the healing traditions has been done or is ongoing among many indigenous groups in the Cordillera, Sierra Madre, Palawan, Mindoro, Zamboanga and southeastern Mindanao. The output of the documentation is stored in a traditional knowledge digital library, developed and maintained by UP Manila, together with the two collaborating institutions. The digital library thus is a repository of the various cultural traditions of Philippine indigenous and local communities, that reflect the practices, knowledge, beliefs, and philosophy of what may be called “Philippine medicine.” In the acknowledgement of the communities’ rights to their knowledge, this national research program aims to carry out a community-based participatory approach, wherein the communities are actively and effectively involved in the documentation and protection of their cultural heritage in health. Their part is integral in defining the cultural appropriateness of the research: from assessing the project objectives, data-gathering methods and instruments, to deciding what information may be inputted in the digital library and what will be kept confidential. Read the article …

Report on the First Round of the Project Cycle of the Benefit-sharing Fund
ITPGR Secretariat, February 2013

Published by the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR), the report on the first round of the project cycle of the Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund contains financial and technical information related to the overall operation of the first project portfolio of the Benefit-sharing Fund; provides an overview of its results; and presents a number of lessons learned and recommendations drawn from the execution of the first round of the project cycle.

According to the report, from 2009-2011, the Benefit-sharing Fund contributed towards strengthening the capacities of more than 6,000 farmers and supported the collection of over 360 accessions of traditional varieties and crop wild relatives, as well as the characterization for useful traits of more than 2,200 accessions of varieties held on-farm and in gene banks. It contributed to ongoing activities for the identification and/or breeding of more than 270 accessions – which exhibit high yield, resistance to climate stress, tolerance to crop disease, or a combination thereof – and the distribution of locally adapted planting material to more than 1,800 farmers. Over 1,700 accessions of crops addressed by the portfolio will be made available under the terms and conditions of the Multilateral System of access and benefit-sharing of the Treaty, which is expected to multiply the Benefit-sharing Fund’s impact globally. Overall, the results of the first cycle have built a strong case for supporting the continuation of this initiative and larger scale investment in future project cycles.

Eleven projects in developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Near East were funded during the first round. Project activities ranged from surveying threatened traditional crop varieties for their climate adaptability and stress resilience, and disseminating and reintroducing varieties that are best adapted to local conditions, to generating income by creating value-added products from local varieties. According to the report, low-income farming communities were the ultimate beneficiaries. Farmers were directly involved at many stages of project implementation, including in the collection of local crops and the documentation of related traditional practices, seed multiplication and distribution, and a range of awareness-raising and training activities. For example, under the framework of the project in India, 14 village-level enterprises were established, including five farmer breeder nurseries and nine women self-help groups. According to P.R. Sarrasamma, leader of a women self-help group, the project resulted in more and more women in their tribal community showing interest in cultivating traditional varieties, resulting in a revival of their identity. The community saved enough seeds for the next seasons and shared them among themselves, and started preparing their own traditional recipes and earning income. Under the Peru project, five new biocultural products based on local potato varieties were developed and are now commercialized in the Potato Park (where the indigenous communities involved in the project are based) and on local markets under the trademark of the Potato Park. Thanks to a local benefit-sharing agreement signed among the six indigenous communities, a percentage of the sales of any of the products that carry the Potato Park trademark label goes into a communal fund for Potato Park activities. In addition, the online Local Biocultural Register was created, where both traditional knowledge and scientific characterization data related to the addressed potato varieties are jointly accessible.

Both the projects in India and Peru, as well as those in Egypt, Senegal and Tanzania, have actively promoted the wider use of traditional and locally adapted varieties among farmers. Furthermore, an important feature of the project portfolio was the two-way exchange between farmers and genebanks. In the framework of the Peru project for example, 410 accessions of native potato varieties conserved ex situ by the International Potato Centre were reintroduced into the fields of the indigenous communities of the Cusco area, where they had previously been lost due to genetic erosion. Several projects, including the ones in Costa Rica, Morocco, Senegal and Tanzania, directly involved farmers in joint activities with scientific genebank personnel, to enable them to engage actively in the selection of genebank crop material that meets their local needs.

Download the publication [pdf] … Visit the Benefit-sharing Fund website …

Report of the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, John H. Knox
Doc. A/HRC/22/43, December 2012

This first report of the Independent Expert, to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council at its 22nd session in March 2013, is intended to place the mandate in a historical context, present some of the outstanding issues relevant to the relationship between human rights and the environment, and describe the current and planned programme of activities. The Independent Expert explains that many issues related to the obligations that human rights law imposes regarding environmental protection need greater study and clarification. His first priority is therefore to provide greater conceptual clarity to the application of human rights obligations related to the environment, taking an evidence-based approach to determining the nature, scope and content of these obligations.

It is noted in the report that indigenous peoples are at particular risk from many kinds of environmental damage because of their cultural and economic dependence on environmental resources. Their procedural rights have received detailed recognition in international instruments, for instance ILO Convention 169 concerning the protection and integration of indigenous and other tribal and semi-tribal populations in independent countries includes a general requirement that governments consult with the peoples concerned whenever giving consideration to measures that may affect them directly. More specifically, it provides for the assessment of environmental impacts of proposed development activities and makes clear that the rights of indigenous peoples to the natural resources pertaining to their lands include the right to participate in the use, management and conservation of these resources. Similarly, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making on matters that would affect their rights and provides that States shall consult with the indigenous peoples concerned to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing measures that may affect them, particularly with respect to projects involving the development, use or exploitation of natural resources. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has stated that the State must consult with the community regarding any proposed concessions or other activities that may affect their lands and natural resources, ensure that no concession is issued without a prior assessment of its environmental and social impacts and guarantee that the community receives a reasonable benefit from any such plan if approved. With respect to “large-scale development or investment projects that would have a major impact”, the State must do more than consult; it must obtain the community’s “free, prior, and informed consent, according to their customs and traditions”.

Download the report [pdf] … Visit the website of the 22nd regular session of the Human Rights Council … Visit the Independent Expert’s webpage …

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