Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lima Call for Climate Action

The 20th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change wrapped up over two weeks of negotiations with the release of the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’. This decision will be the basis of the global climate agreement expected in 2015, and its annex contains elements for a draft negotiating text.

A key component of this agreement are country climate pledges known as ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs), these are a countries contribution towards achieving the Conventions ultimate objective, which is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Crucially each country is expected to outline their INDCs, and thus the old firewall of developed and developing countries has been breached, and developing countries now have commitments. Countries will communicate these during the early part of 2015 or by the start of October 2015 at the latest, and the UNFCCC secretariat will produce a synthesis report of their aggregate effect. It was agreed that these contributions will be an improvement on a countries existing undertakings, however, missing from the text was the need for an ex-ante review of these commitments, and no common, comprehensive reporting methodologies were specified. This means it will be difficult to assess the potential impact of these commitments over time and also to compare approaches between countries. It is likely that IDRCs will focus on mitigation, as countries are not obliged to provide information on their adaptation plans, although they are free to do so if they wish.

New Publication: South Africa Legal Review

Supported by Ford Foundation Southern Africa, Natural Justice has coordinated a series of legal reviews in Southern Africa, examining the national laws and policies that support or undermine indigenous peoples and local communities. The second of these legal reviews focuses on the legal and policy frameworks in South Africa, examining human rights, land and freshwater, protected areas and sacred natural sites, natural resources and extraction.

This is the second of a series of legal reviews for Southern Africa. You can find the South African legal review here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New Publication: Zimbabwe Legal Review

Supported by Ford Foundation Southern Africa, Natural Justice has coordinated a series of legal reviews in Southern Africa, examining the national laws and policies that support or undermine indigenous peoples and local communities. The first of these legal reviews,  focuses on the legal and policy frameworks in Zimbabwe, examining human rights, land and freshwater, protected areas and sacred natural sites, natural resources and extraction.

This is the first of a series of legal reviews for Southern Africa. You can find the Zimbabwe legal review here.

The Road to Dignity by 2030: UN Launches Sustainable Development Blueprint

Earlier this month the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released his “synthesis report” on the Post-2015 Agenda. The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives andProtecting the Planet will guide States discussions on finalizing the post-2015 development agenda. Over the next few months the final parameters of the post-2015 agenda will be agreed by the 193 member States of the UN.

The synthesis report includes the outcome produced by the Open Working Group, which proposes 17 sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets. These goals include taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, and protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, conserving and sustainably using the oceans and seas, and promoting peaceful societies and providing access to justice for all. The report aims at a transformational approach and proposes an integrated set of six essential elements to facilitate the deliberations of States. These elements include justice to promote safe and peaceful societies, and strong institutions, and under this element effective governance which is participatory and accountable, and access to fair justice systems are mentioned. Furthermore, the Secretary-General stressed universal human rights and international norms should guide States deliberations. States are expected to agree on a new post-2015 framework at a summit in September next year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Heroes Project

Natural Justice on an annual basis collaborates with the University of York on various policy-related projects, this year we are looking into the South African work around the Khoi and San peoples, which involves firstly, reviewing the impact of the Amendment 2014 to the Land Restitution Act on the Khoi and San peoples land rights, and secondly building on the Heroes Project through an identity workshop with youth from the Khoi, San and other South African communities. Through The Heroes Project, Natural Justice, the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, and the Law, Environment and Design Laboratory (LEDLab) explores psychosocial approaches to the law.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Public Hearing on Kenya’s Community Land Bill, 2014

Mr. Odenda Lumumba, from the Kenya Land Alliance
 and the Civil Society Working Group on the Community
 Land Bill, presents his submissions
 on the Bill before the Senate Committee.
Natural Justice’s office in Kenya recently brainstormed on the question of public participation, asking what it entails, its substantive elements, and how to ensure it is effective. The starting point in the law lies in the Constitution of Kenya, which requires Parliament to facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislation process. 

Putting this principle to the test, Natural Justice attended a public hearing on the Community Land Bill held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, on last week. This hearing sought to give members of the public an opportunity to propose any amendments or changes to this fundamental Bill. The Senate Committee on the Community Land Bill conducted the hearing and was comprised of five Senators: Christopher Obure (Kisii); George Khaniri (Vihiga); Boy Juma Boy (Kwale); Martha Wangari (Nominated) and Liza Chelule (Nominated).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Call for Applications: Office Manager for Natural Justice-India

Natural Justice (Lawyers for Communities and the Environment) is a pioneering international team of legal practitioners. We conduct comprehensive research on environmental and human rights law, support communities and local organizations, provide technical advice to governments and intergovernmental organizations, and engage in key international processes in pursuit of environmental and social justice. Natural Justice currently works in Africa, Asia and Latin America and has offices in South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, India, and New York City.

What are we looking for?
Natural Justice has been working with communities, NGOs and government agencies in India since 2009. Due to an increase in the scale of work and an expanded team, we are seeking a full-time Office Manager to assist in the coordination of our work in India. The successful candidate will be expected to begin work in mid-January and be based in Bangalore.

Monday, November 24, 2014

LAPSSET Community Forum Holds 'People’s Dialogue on LAPSSET

Energy. Transportation. Trade. These are the economic drivers that the Kenyan government is seeking to tap at scale as it attempts to meet the goals in its "Vision 2030" plan for turning Kenya into a middle-income country. Central to this plan is an infrastructure corridor known as LAPSSET, which stands for "Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport."  But there is another element that needs to be considered in infrastructure development: people.

To ensure that that happens, a coalition of civil society organizations have joined together to form the LAPSSET Community Forum (LCF) in order to examine the potential benefits and impacts of the LAPSSET corridor on affected communities and respond to those benefits and impacts in an organized manner. On 24 November 2014, the LCF kicked off a four day meeting in Lamu to discuss issues related to LAPSSET and strategize on a way forward. The meeting brings together stakeholders located all along the LAPSSET corridor, from northern Kenya to those in Lamu itself.

If LAPSSET is completed as planned, many parts of Kenya that have seen little development since decolonization, such as the northern part of the country and the northern coast, will experience profound changes in existing infrastructure. New infrastructure will include paved roads, railways, airports, and even entire cities. Such infrastructure will bring new economic opportunities, but it will also cause major environmental and social impacts. The LCF seeks to understand these impacts and ensure that community rights, particularly those relating to land and livelihoods, are taken into account in the planning and implementation of LAPSSET.

Monday, November 17, 2014

An End to Unjust Conservation? (commentary)

The San peoples of the Kalahari have suffered as a result
of exclusionary forms of conservation. CC Harry Jonas.
In September 2014, events took place in three different parts of the world, which together highlight the multifaceted relationship between human rights and conservation, write Dilys Roe and Harry Jonas. First, in New York, the UN General Assembly adopted the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (World Conference). The document reaffirms and recognizes, among other things: a) support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; b) commitments to obtain free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting Indigenous peoples' lands or territories and other resources, c) commitments to acknowledge, advance and adjudicate the rights of Indigenous peoples pertaining to lands, territories and resources; and d) the significant contribution of Indigenous peoples to the promotion of sustainable development and ecosystem management, including their associated knowledge. Read the   full commentary here

Inaugural Conference on Land Policy in Africa Held in Addis Ababa

The inaugural Conference on Land Policy inAfrica concluded on Friday 14 November 2014 after three full days of presentations and discussions at African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Themed "The next decade of land policy in Africa: ensuring agricultural development and inclusive growth," the Conference brought together parliamentarians, ministers, practitioners, academics, community representatives and other stakeholders to discuss the issue of land in Africa. The Conference was organized by the Land Policy Initiative, which is a joint programme of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Natural Justice attended the Conference with the support of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies.

While numerous issues were discussed, from global initiatives to national land policy reform to customary tenure systems, three key themes were raised throughout the Conference: implementation of guidelines and policies; customary tenure; and information dissemination.