New Tactics Online Conversation NOW OPEN: Protection of Indigenous Land Rights

Click here to join the ongoing New Tactics community for an online conversation on Protection of Indigenous Land Rights: Challenges & Remedies from July 11 to 15, 2016. (Received via newsletter)

###Protection of Indigenous Land Rights: Challenges & Remedies Join the Conversation

There are estimated to be 370 million indigenous people in the world, from 5,000 different ethnic groups, living in 90 countries. James Anaya, former Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, has defined indigenous people as “living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. They are culturally distinct groups that find themselves engulfed by other settler societies born of forces of empire and conquest.” Despite the United Nations having issued a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including land rights, the land rights of indigenous people have increasingly come under threat.

The adoption of legal tactics and appeals to international institutions has been an effective tool in fighting to uphold indigenous populations’ rights to land. The Endorois, a traditional Kenyan pastoralist community, were evicted from their ancestral land at Lake Bogoria in the 1970’s. The Kenyan government displaced the population in order to establish a national reserve and expand tourism within the region, famous for its hot springs and prominent wildlife. The lake was central to the Endorois’ religion, culture, and burial practices; furthermore, they were forced to move from fertile to arid land, where the vast majority of the community’s cattle perished. The Endorois attempted to seek remedies by arguing for either the right to return to their land, or for adequate compensation for their suffering; they appealed to the national government, local authorities, and the Kenyan Wildlife Service to no avail. The Endorois, the Center for Minority Rights Development, and Minority Rights Group International, appealed to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in 2003, on grounds that the Kenyan Government’s actions had violated the rights of their community. In 2010 the Commission expressed their support for the coalition, determining that the government had violated the Endorois’ property rights to ancestral land, in addition to their right to develop, as the land had been converted without the consent of the community. They ordered the Kenyan Government to compensate the Endorois for their loss, as well as to take steps to return their ancestral land to them. The Commission’s decision set a new precedent for African nations under their jurisdiction by maintaining the importance of upholding indigenous peoples’ land rights.

In this conversation, we seek to discuss challenges surrounding the protection of indigenous people’s land rights, tactics for advancing the cause, and tools for developing successful advocacy efforts. We will share success stories and identify areas for improvement. Join us for this important discussion!

Protection of Indigenous Land Rights: Challenges & Remedies