Dispossession of lands and natural resources is a major human rights problem for communities, especially indigenous communities. Many of them are pushed out of their traditional areas to give way for development initiatives that favour the economic interests of others.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples rights confirmed that lands and natural resources are critical for the survival of subsistence communities. The importance of the recognition and protection of their ancestral lands, territories and resources is therefore a major priority. Several court judgments protecting indigenous peoples’ land rights have emerged over time, such as the hallmark African Commission decision on the Endorois community in Kenya.
Those judgments have formally recognised the gains made by the indigenous peoples’ movement, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Mabo decision, the Awas Tingi decision as well as the Richtersveld decision, within the African legal system.
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa
Heinrich Böll Foundation for Southern Africa
ABS Capacity Development Initiative