Celebrating Resolution 489 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Celebrating Resolution 489 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AHCR) called on African states and non-state actors to recognise and support these communities as they exercise these rights in Resolution 489.

Resource Africa and the Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa (CLN) are celebrating the adoption of Resolution 489 that affirms the rights of rural communities to manage and sustainably use their natural resources.

This important resolution comes at a time when community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) in southern Africa is under pressure on many fronts, especially as anti-hunting legislation is being considered by non-African governments.

Through CBNRM, local community institutions manage their resources in such a way that benefits accrue to people who rely on these resources to survive and who often suffer the consequences of living alongside dangerous wild animals.

The community leaders who form the CLN hail from these communities and have extensive experience working with their own and other communities in nine African countries. Members of CLN joined other rural community representatives to draft “Voices of the Communities: A New Deal for rural communities and wildlife and natural resources”, which was submitted to the African Wildlife Economy Summit at Victoria Falls in June 2019.

The community representatives clearly outlined their goals and suggested a way forward whereby African states and other stakeholders created enabling conditions to make these goals achievable.

Part of this declaration reads: “We therefore implore you the Heads of State and governments in Africa together with the private sector and international organizations to recognize the role of communities in the ownership, management and conservation of natural resources that drives the wildlife economy across Africa and to address our concerns, in the spirit of environmental and economic justice. Let us move from a raw-deal to a New Deal.”

Resource Africa fully supports this initiative by rural communities and therefore sought further support for their objectives through the African Commission. Leslé Jansen, RA’s CEO, as a member of the Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities and Minorities in Africa, was ideally placed to garner this support. Among other tasks, the Working Group is mandated to “study the implications of the African Charter on the well-being of indigenous communities”.

Article 21(1) of the African Charter states: “All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources. This right shall be exercised in the exclusive interest of the people. In no case shall a people be deprived of it”

Given these considerations, it was clear that the community declaration at Victoria Falls aligned closely with the Working Group’s mandate and the African Charter itself. Resolution 489 is therefore a culmination of advocacy efforts that involved both CLN and RA – this is a major win for rural communities across Africa.

A webinar entitled “Protecting Our Right to Manage and Sustainably Use Our Wildlife”  considers the significance and potential impact of Resolution 489.  The webinar was moderated by RASA CEO Lesle Jansen, with RASA Community-Based National Resource Management specialist, Dr. Shylock Muyengwa and Community Leaders Network chairman, Dr. Rodgers Lubilo.

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