On January 12 at the IASC 2011 Conference being held in Hyderabad, India, Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) chaired a panel titled “Storehouses of Genes – Whose Property?” The panel had presentations on the microbial commons and challenges of forced introduction of genetically modified crops in Mexico and in China. The panel concluded with a lively discussion on the the challenges to sustaining the local gene pool commons. There was also an interesting afternoon panel discussion on “Boundaries of Authority, Identity and Space at the Interface between Formal State Law and Local Customary Law in South Africa”. The speakers included representatives of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (University of Western Cape) and Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (University of Cape Town). The panel focused on challenges of identifying customary law and traditional authority in post-apartheid South Africa, where the apartheid state had reorganized chieftainship structures through the creation of bantustans and made the Chiefs accountable to the State rather than to their communities.
Also on January 12, Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) participated in a day-long workshop on Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). The workshop was organized by Kalpavriksh and presenters at the workshop included Ashish Kothari, Gary Martin, Tushar Dash, Neema Pathak, Terence Hay-Edie, and Fred Nelson. The presenters discussed a range of areas concerning ICCAs, including legal recognition, ICCAs as politically contested commons, and ICCAs as a mechanism to assert the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, and presented case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A discussion on policy surrounding ICCAs will be held on the final day of the conference on January 14.