Maasai in Tanzania demand indigenous rights within UN framework

Nairobi, Kenya (AP) — The Maasai in Tanzania have defied government pressure to leave their ancestral homes in the Ngorongoro Reserve, presented their demands for indigenous land rights to negotiators in Nairobi, and finalized the proposed the United Nations Global Biodiversity Framework.

The Maasai community in Loliando issued an appeal on Thursday after violent clashes with Tanzanian security forces two weeks ago forced many of them to flee to neighboring Kenya.

A court notice said an East African court was expected to rule on the politically sensitive issue this week, but was delayed until later this year due to “inevitable circumstances”.

“Our government accuses us of destroying our environment and depriving Tanzania of citizenship,” the Maasai said in a letter to the UN Conference on Biodiversity. “This is the fourth forcible eviction from our land. We A large number of leaders have been detained. Twenty of them have been charged with murder. We cannot tell the world what happened because the media is banned from reporting our stories.”

As observed in Tanzania, indigenous communities continue to report cases of abuse, torture and mass evictions, and Maasai communities say they face displacement to create a hunting reserve.

Marseille leaders joined civil society actors and other indigenous community leaders in calling for the inclusion and recognition of indigenous lands, territories and tenure in the framework, which is expected to be endorsed when world leaders meet in Montreal, Canada, this December.

Lucy Mulenkei, co-chair of the International Biodiversity Indigenous Forum, during a press conference on the sidelines of the negotiations.

The Indigenous Forum also called for prior informed consent for land use and robust financial mechanisms for conservation.

“If we don’t have a framework to protect nature that truly recognizes and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who are actually protecting biodiversity, people will be at risk,” said Ramiro Batzin of the Indigenous Forum.

The Global Biodiversity Framework will replace the old Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed by UN Parties at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Aichi, Japan, in 2010. By the time the 2020 deadline passed, none of the 20 goals of the Aichi Accord had been achieved. The ongoing Nairobi talks are a continuation of intensive negotiations that failed to reach a consensus in Geneva in March this year.

Key issues remain to be discussed, with wealthier and developing countries at odds over several sticking points, such as benefit-sharing, removing incentives for harming nature, biotechnology, and funding developing countries to strengthen national goals and technologies.

The proposed biodiversity framework aims to comprehensively address a range of global environmental issues, including pollution, climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on nature such as illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and overconsumption.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems have contributed to climate change. It said the new framework must “aimed at halting biodiversity loss by 2030 and recovery by 2050”.

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