Biocultural Rights

Biocultural Rights

Natural Justice is actively developing the concept of biocultural rights with our partners in the regional initiatives on biocultural community protocols, among others. Biocultural rights are the bundle of rights required by communities to fulfil their role as custodians of their cultures, lands, waters, and resources. Biocultural rights can be defined at two levels. First, they exist as a body of rights identified from a wide range of environmental, human rights, and cultural heritage, among other, laws and policies that support the ways of life of communities that conserve and sustainably use of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are two core texts in this regard. Second, biocultural rights can also be thought of as an aspirational (or normative) framework that expresses the optimum rights required by Indigenous peoples and local communities to govern their territories, areas, and natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Natural Justice is currently writing two books on biocultural rights:

  • Stewarding the Earth: Rethinking Property and Biocultural Rights, and
  • Exploring Biocultural Rights in Asia: Political Ecology, Jurisprudence, Resistance and Engagement.

For more information about the local activities being undertaken through the regional initiative on biocultural rights, please read about our work in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Natural Justice is also considering developing a dedicated website on biocultural rights and associated legal resources.



Biocultural Community Protocols: Bridging the Gap Between Customary, National and International Law (Salter and von Braun, 2011)
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Biocultural Community Protocols and Conservation Pluralism (Jonas et al., 2010)
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Bio-cultural Community Protocols: A Community Approach to Ensuring the Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy (Natural Justice and UNEP, 2009)
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African Bio-cultural Community Protocol Initiative Inception Meeting: Working towards the Legal Recognition of Bio-cultural Community Protocols within National Policies (Natural Justice, 2011)
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Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating Stewardship, Asserting Rights, Affirming Responsibilities
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Asia Regional Initiative on Biocultural Community Protocols: Inception Meeting Report (Natural Justice, 2011)
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Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating and Asserting Stewardship (Moving Images & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Recognising Customary Rights (LPP, LPPS and Moving Images, 2009)
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Maldhari Biocultural Community Protocol Photo Story (Sahjeevan & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Latest Publication

Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators
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Key Links
Community Protocols

Images from our work in Africa, Asia, and the Americas
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