Monday, March 30, 2015

National Khoi & San Council Workshop: Community Protocols Follow-Up

Natural Justice facilitated a Community Protocols Follow-Up Workshop, between 10-13th March 2015, in Tokai, Cape Town, South Africa. The workshop was composed of various sessions including team building and leadership, and training regards benefit sharing agreements. Both these elements were identified as key elements of the National Khoi & San Councils (NKC) Community Protocol process.
Lesle Jansen, Cath Traynor & Emmanuel Sibanda (Natural Justice) were joined by Dr. Kabir Bavikatte and Dr. Roger Chennells lawyers specializing in beneficiation agreements and processes. The team building and leadership development sessions, took their point of inspiration from the Heroes Project approaches, and activities were outdoors in the surrounding forests which created a contemplative and reflective environment. Through individual work and group discussions NKC members considered their own roles and that of their organisation and they utilized different tools and approaches to analyse their current status and to strategize on ways forwards. These sessions provided an opportunity for members to clarify both their own roles, and the NKCs role in the Khoi-San struggle, and the process provided participants a fresh perspective on the NKC and how it shapes the implementation of the community protocol priorities.
The training on benefit sharing agreements was led by Dr. Bavikatte, and participants discussed recent developments in Access and Benefit Sharing, negotiation processes and strategies, and concluded with applying these learnings to the critical analysis of a current ABS agreement.
On the final day of the workshop the NKC held their own internal meeting. During the workshop NKC representatives also took the opportunity to attend a meeting of the National House of Traditional Leaders, held in Parliament in Cape Town, and addressed questions to President Jacob Zuma.

Soda Lakes community structures for ABS agreements Meeting Agenda (March 25, 2015)

In addition to flamingos, Lake Bogoria part of the Soda lakes is also home to a host of microorganisms with potential for research and commercial use that the community is trying to protect. Lake Bogoria National Reserve, Kenya Photo by Michael Poliza                                    © All rights reserved

In areas with rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge, strong community structures allow for engagement with international organizations while protecting local resources and respecting traditional rights. On March 25-26, 2015, the “Soda lakes community structures for ABS agreements meeting” brought together representatives from communities along the Soda Lakes to discuss the possibility of entering into negotiations with international companies and other institutions on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) agreements in relation to the community's rich bio-cultural resources and traditional knowledge. Gino Cocchiaro and International Legal Fellow Jennifer Ingram represented Natural Justice at the meeting, with Gino introducing Natural Justice's work on community protocols with different communities in Africa. Hosted by the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in Naivasha, the two-day event is part of a program funded in part by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that seeks to assist communities in developing structures to handle ABS agreements.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Climate Justice Campaign Planning Workshop

Cath Traynor from Natural Justice participated in a Campaign Planning Workshop hosted by Oxfam on 16th -20th March 2015, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Workshop participants included global, regional and country representatives from Oxfam as well as partner CSOs in the food and Climate Justice Campaign.
The objectives of the workshop were to equip African teams with practical campaign tools and to develop a strategy for a southern-led, evidence-based climate justice campaign across Africa. Participants explored and utilised several tools such as power and targeting analysis, public campaign planning and digital communications.
Participants developed a common narrative, a plan for the Pan-African campaign and identified key campaign moments in 2015.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Call for Applications: Africa Community Rights Fellowship, Kenya Office

Natural Justice: lawyers for communities and the environment; Kenya office are inviting applications for The Africa Community Rights Fellowship. The fellowship offers young lawyers and other engaged professionals the opportunity to work towards community rights in the region. Supported by the Natural Justice team, the Fellows will be introduced to a broad spectrum of issues within environmental and human rights law through fieldwork and research supporting multiple Natural Justice programmes and initiatives. Natural Justice has been working with local communities, NGOs and government agencies in Kenya since 2009 and opened its Nairobi office in 2014. It currently works closely with the LAPSSET Community Forum, community-based organizations, NGOs and County Governments to provide research findings, information and legal training in relation to LAPSSET.

The Fellowship is offered through the Kenya and South Africa offices and the Fellows will be based in the Natural Justice Kenya office in Nairobi. It will provide an exciting opportunity to energetic and committed legal and other professionals who are passionate about supporting communities in securing rights to their lands and resources and addressing the impacts of infrastructure or extractive industry projects, with a focus on the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET). The Fellowship is for a period of 6 months to begin in late April. An honorarium will be offered along with a travel budget. Applicants from areas along the LAPSSET Corridor in Kenya are encouraged to apply.

The deadline for applications is 8 April 2015 – 17:00 GMT. Please email your application to Gino Cocchiaro (gino(at) with Africa Community Rights Fellowship in the subject line. Include a motivation letter that indicates why you feel you are the best candidate for this fellowship, a detailed CV with at least two references, and one relevant sample of your past work (for example, an article on research report). Please ensure that your application as a whole speaks to the required skills and experience listed above.
Call for application

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kenya: Mining Bill Submissions to Senate

A rig belonging to Tullow Oil and Africa Oil who recently commenced with 
exploring oil in Northern Turkana at Lowarengak, while the Mining Bill explicitly 
excludes application to fossil fuels such as oil, the interrelatedness of the legislation 
governing community land and the broader extractives sector is crucial 
for Kenya’s future. cc. Billy Kapua, FOLT

Natural Justice’s policy advocacy involvement with Kenya’s Mining Bill continues in 2015, with greater vigor as this law draws closer to its likely enactment this year. On the 26th of February, the Senate heard oral and accepted written submissions by members of the public on the Mining Bill. This Bill already passed in the National Assembly, Kenya’s other legislative house. However, given that the Constitution requires any law affecting the counties to go through the Senate, and outcries last year over the Bill’s legality and the powers granted to the Cabinet Secretary, it merited consideration by the Senate prior to assent by the President. 

Together, with five other partner organizations – the Friends of Lake Turkana, the Kenya Civil Society Platform for Oil and Gas (The Platform), the Institute for Business and Human Rights, Oxfam GB Kenya and the Kenya Land Alliance – we collaborated in the preparation and submission process. The process, coordinated by the Platform, focused on three main issues, (a) the institutional framework and discretionary powers of the Cabinet Secretary and other functionaries; (b) community engagement, participation and land; and (c) transparency and accountability. 

One highly contentious aspect of the Bill is the fact that the Cabinet Secretary is granted great powers in administering the mining industry in Kenya; however, this has been ably fleshed out in the past. Our submissions noted that there was a need to look at other functionaries created by the Bill such as the Directors of Mines and Geology, for example, and ensure that their conduct is subject to explicit constitutional and lawful limitations expected within a democratic space such as Kenya. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kukula Traditional Healers BCP Revision workshop

Natural Justice together with partners K2C and Wits Rural Facility (WRF), facilitated a BCP revision workshop for the Kukula Traditional Healers (KTH) of Bushbuckridge, South Africa, on 16 – 18th February 2015. Over twenty KTH members participated including representatives from the Executive and Management Committees. The objectives of the workshop were to revise the KTH Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) to reflect the Kukula’s priorities and to address key stakeholder needs. 

During the first day of the workshop participants listed their achievements in 2014, and discussed current challenges and priorities for 2015. Mr Johan Lorenzen, from Richard Spoor Inc. Attorney’s, presented on laws, policies and recent legal developments which support the KTH and their aims. Key outside stakeholders participated on day two of the workshop, sessions included ‘governance and leadership’ where representatives from Traditional Authorities and KTH members discussed ways to strengthen their relationship and to improve the management of medicinal plants in communal areas. This was followed by a session exploring possibilities for the sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants in protected areas. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Seeking Justice at the International Level - New Guide Published by Natural Justice

Grievance mechanisms are one avenue for indigenous peoples and local communities to have addressed issues and concerns arising from impact by projects, such as those related to extractive industries and infrastructure. However, the processes and procedures of grievance mechanisms are often buried deep in operational policies and guidelines catering toward technocrats, rather than those communities likely to need them. Thus, much work has been done to develop and improve communities’ access to grievance mechanisms by producing publications that break down and explain such mechanisms in a more user-friendly way. 

The goal  of this document ‘Seeking Justice at the International Level: A short guide to Regional and International Grievance and Advocacy Mechanisms For Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’, is to provide a brief overview of relevant mechanisms that communities can use to potentially address an issue, to get a sense of the focus of each mechanism and in what contexts they might be useful.


Natural Justice: lawyers for communities and the environment is expanding its Nairobi, Kenya office and seeking to hire a full-time lawyer to assist in its projects, with a particular focus on supporting communities impacted by infrastructure and extractive industry projects. The successful candidate will be based in Nairobi.

The role of the lawyer will include: providing legal advice to indigenous and/or marginalised communities and their supporting local organisations (including supporting the development and use of community protocols); supporting communities and community partners in strategizing and addressing infrastructure or extractive industry projects, community land and resource laws; conducting research on LAPSSET and other infrastructure projects; preparing legal pleadings, undertaking litigation and/or briefing counsel; working closely with project coordinators in Kenya and South Africa; providing technical advice to County Government and relevant government agencies; attending relevant meetings and workshops within Kenya, Africa and internationally.

The deadline for applications is 2nd March, 2015, 17:00 GMT. Interviews will commence in early March. Please email your application to Gino Cocchiaro (gino(at)naturaljustice(dot)org) with the job title in the subject line. Include a motivation letter that indicates why you feel you are the best candidate for this position, a detailed CV with three references, and maximum three samples of your past work (for example, articles, research reports or court submissions). Please ensure that your application as a whole speaks to the required skills and experience and desirable traits and attributes listed above. For further details, see  Call for applications: Legal Officer, Kenya.

Community-Company Engagement: “Good” Practice in Extractive Industries

The extractive industries, including mining, oil and gas, continue to have large-scale and systemic impacts on indigenous peoples and local communities that live on or near such projects. Communities, whether they seek to resist the entry of extractive industries on their lands – due to the well-known history of gross violations of their rights as a result of mining activities or due to lack of obvious benefits – or whether they seek to cooperate with the hope of obtaining some benefits, will usually interact with companies in some form or another. 

Over the past years companies and communities have increasingly engaged through amicable means. These types of ‘community-company engagements’ have taken a broad range of interactions inducing dialogue throughout a project’s life cycle, including specific negotiations, agreements and accompanying mechanisms such as grievance mechanisms and development funds. This paper  by Marie Wilke, Laura Letourneau-Tremblay and Stephanie Booker seeks to examine community-company engagement through the lens of communities that, for a variety of reasons, struggle to engage with companies and who seek to use these types of agreements to formalize their role in the process, to obtain clear commitments on key points such as the scope of impact assessments, to draw up mechanisms that can address potential conflicts and to set the stage for more comprehensive socio-economic participation negotiations at a later stage.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review of RSPO's Complaints System Published

In 2014, Natural Justice was involved in two projects concerning the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). First, from April to November 2014, Natural Justice undertook a review of RSPO’s complaints system in collaboration with BC Initiative, Sdn. Bhd. The review arose from a resolution adopted at the 2012 General Assembly entitled “Guaranteeing Fairness, Transparency and Impartiality in the RSPO Complaints System” and called for the current complaints system to be improved in light of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (particularly Principle 31 on non-judicial grievance mechanisms). After three interim reports and an extensive consultation process, the final report was submitted in December and is publicly available online here.