A GLOBAL FIGHT FOR COMMUNITY RIGHTSSecuring Indigenous and Community Land Rights at Scale

The widespread lack of indigenous and
community land rights, has become a global crisis, directly affecting the lives
and livelihoods of at least two billion people. Therefore, activists and representatives
of rights-holders, communities and indigenous peoples from all over the world
are gathering at the Global Land Forum in Dakar, Senegal (12-16 May) to address
the need to secure indigenous and community land rights.

Although indigenous and community land right are
increasingly being recognized globally, governments fail to deliver on their
commitments in protecting those rights. At the same time pressure on community
lands is rising, whilst judicial systems lack in providing the necessary
security. Today the ownership of roughly half of the rural forest and
dry land areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America is contested, placing the
lives and livelihoods of at least two billion people at risk. In the last decade alone this tenure insecurity has
resulted in the acquisition of more than 81 million acres of land worldwide –an
area the size of Portugal- with unspeakable consequences for many rural and
forest dwellers.

Those consequences derive from the problem, as Samuel
Nguiffo states, that ‘economic development too often
consists of large-scale projects that take away property and community land,
leaving farmers with little compensation. Their governments – often the ones
who sold the land – either look the other way or play the role of enforcer. If
the communities are compensated, it is hardly adequate, and the few resulting
jobs do not pay enough to make up for the permanent loss of livelihood and way
of life
’. This
leaves many dwellers in great despair. It is, therefore, not exaggerated
to state that the widespread and enduring lack of
clarity and recognition of indigenous and community land and resource rights
have become a global crisis. No development agenda can be taken serious without
addressing this global tenure crisis.

Moreover, the
global development agenda can also benefit from closely involving indigenous
peoples and communities. According to the U.N. Special
Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz: ‘taking Indigenous knowledge and traditional
technology into account internationally could contribute to solving many of the
world’s major crises in relation to the environment and climate change, and
ultimately bring sustainable development’
.

The importance
of scaling-up efforts in securing indigenous and community land rights is
increasingly being recognized. In May, land experts and activists from all over
the world will gather at the ILC’s Global Land Forum in Dakar, Senegal (12-16
May) to address the centrality of land and natural resource rights to our
vision of building a better world in the post-2015 era. During this week a
variety of topics will be discussed: securing indigenous and community land and
resource rights will feature high on the Forum’s agenda.

The discussions
will be centered around the Global Call to Action on Indigenous and Community
Land Rights. The Global Call, which is co-convened by the International Land
Coalition (ILC), Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and Oxfam, aims to serve
as a mechanism for facilitating greater collaboration and coordinating collective action on Indigenous People’s and local communities’ land
rights around the world, with the ultimate goal to double the area of land
recognized as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities
by 2020. In the plenary session ‘Ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ and local
communities’ land rights’ on Wednesday, May 13, at 14.15-15.15, inspiring
speeches and local and global perspectives will be given on why indigenous and
community land rights matter. After having discussed the ‘why’, the interactive
debate ‘Making Justice Work: the Global Call to Action on Community and
Indigenous Land Rights’ will focus on the ‘how’. At this moment (17.15-18.30)
the discussion will be on action: how can a global call assist current
national/local work to secure indigenous and community land rights.  All participants will get the knowledge on
how to become part of the Global Call to Action, to join hands in a brotherly
manner to disable the powerful for the survival of the powerless.

Join the debate at
the Global Land Forum and join hands in the Global Call to Action in order to help
our unified voice ring out!

This post has also been published on the Oxfam International Blog.

Maarten is currently working on land grabbing issues with the Popular Campaigning Department at Oxfam Novib. Currently, pursuing his Masters at Radboud University, Maarten has a keen eye for design and visuals. In an alternate universe, he would be in Tanzania making films, but for now, he is here trying to figure out his thesis question at Oxfam Novib. You can also follow him on Tumblr.

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