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International laws and guidelines relevant to the situations in the Omo and Nech Sar National Parks:

ILO Convention 169
full document here

African Parks Foundation is a non-profit (Stichting) registered in the Netherlands and is therefore subject to ILO convention 169 of which the Netherlands is a signature. Any denial of access or displacement of people from in, or around, the Omo National Park would be in breach of ILO convention 169 article 14. The forced displacement, and denial of access of the Kore and Guji in Nech Sar was in breach of article 14: 
Article 14

1. The rights of ownership and possession of the peoples concerned over the lands which they traditionally occupy shall be recognised. In addition, measures shall be taken in appropriate cases to safeguard the right of the peoples concerned to use lands not exclusively occupied by them, but to which they have traditionally had access for their subsistence and traditional activities. Particular attention shall be paid to the situation of nomadic peoples and shifting cultivators in this respect.

Ethiopian Government and park officials have been collecting the signatures of local people to confirm their ‘agreement’ to the park boundaries, in order to prepare the way for gazettement (making the park boundaries legal). But those who signed these documents could neither read them, nor were they given copies of them. They could not therefore obtain independent advice on the implications of what they were being asked to sign. This is in breach of  ILO convention 169 article 17.3:

Article 17

3. Persons not belonging to these peoples shall be prevented from taking advantage of their customs or of lack of understanding of the laws on the part of their members to secure the ownership, possession or use of land belonging to them.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Full document here

Article 1:

1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

ratified by Ethiopia and the Netherlands

Convention on Biological Diversity

Indigenous Peoples and the decisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity: a guide -May 2005

Article 8(j):
Article 8: In-Situ Conservation

Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate:
. . .
(j) Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices;

Article 10(c):

Article 10:

Sustainable Use of Components of Biological Diversity

Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate:

(c) Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements;

"The forced expulsion of indigenous peoples from national parks is not only immoral (16 April, p 21). It also contravenes Ethiopia's obligations under international human rights and environmental law. As a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ethiopia should be "protecting and encouraging customary use of biological resources…" (Article 10c).

At the latest meeting of the CBD's conference of parties, it was decided that the "establishment, management and planning of protected areas should take place with the full and effective participation of, and full respect for the rights of, indigenous and local communities consistent with national law and applicable international obligations". "

-Marcus Colchester, from a letter to New Scientist regarding the displacements from Nech Sar

World Bank Operational Policy on resettlement, African Development Bank policy on resettlement

"World Bank Operational Policy (OP) 4.12 on resettlement ... defines the ‘restricting of access’ to indigenous and other people in parks and protected areas as ‘involuntary displacement' ... "  -Michael Cernea, Restriction of access is displacement: a broader concept

World Bank revised its Operational Policy on resettlement (OP 4.12) in 2002 to include the loss of access resulting in adverse impacts on livelihoods as a form of displacement.  Similarly, the African Development Bank has included in its 2003 policy on resettlement the statement that the policy covers loss of assets or involuntary restriction of access to assets including national parks, protected areas or of natural resources; or loss of income sources or means of livelihood as a result of projects, whether or not the affected persons are required to move.

In a recent letter to African Parks Foundation, the anthropologist David Turton wrote:
'It would not be ‘interference’ in the affairs of a ‘sovereign government’ to insist that the land rights of local people are protected. It would be no more than is expected by the resettlement policies of multilateral donors, such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank. See, for example the
World Bank’s Operational Policy (OP) 4.12 and Bank Procedure (BP) 4.12 of January 2001 and the IFC’s ‘Handbook for preparing a resettlement Action Plan’, all of which are available online. See also a short article by Michael Cernea (‘Forced Migration Review’, 23, May 2005, pp. 48-9) on the changes introduced by OP/OB 4.12.  He points out that the policy now treats as the equivalent of forced displacement the ‘involuntary restriction of access to legally designated parks and protected areas resulting in adverse impacts on the livelihoods of the displaced persons’ (OP 4.12, Paragraph 3 (b)). This change has also been incorporated in the resettlement policies of the AfDB and the ADB. (Cernea is a research professor at George Washington University and was formerly with the World Bank, where he was the chief architect of its policy on ‘involuntary resettlement’.)  If APF sticks to its position that it cannot make contractual agreements about the protection of local land rights, then  it should not be surprised if it is suspected of colluding with the government to displace people, or otherwise deny them access to necessary subsistence resources, with all the damage this could do to its reputation as a humane and progressive conservation organisation. '

see also Re-examining “Displacement”: A Redefinition of Concepts in Development and Conservation Policies Michael Cernea

World Conservation Union, IUCN

The IUCN has consistently affirmed the rights of indigenous peoples to the lands they traditionally occupy, in numerous resolutions and statements of policy.  It is also a fundamental principle of the organization that the establishment of protected areas should not exacerbate the poverty of local people by, for example, depriving them of vital subsistence resources and making them dependent on food aid.

-Indigenous People and Local Communities and Protected Areas  -an overview of guidelines for Indigenous rights and protected areas

Principles and Guidelines for Indigenous and Traditional Peoples and Protected Areas - policy statement from IUCN and WWF :

. . .

Principle 2

"Agreements drawn up between conservation institutions, including protected area management agencies, and indigenous and other traditional peoples for the establishment and management of protected areas affecting their lands, territories, waters, coastal seas and other resources should be based on full respect for the rights of indigenous and other traditional peoples to traditional, sustainable use of their lands, territories, waters, coastal seas and other resources."  

APF has consistently refused to make the contracts it signed with the Ethiopian Federal Government and SNNPRS Southern Regional Government, for the lease of Omo National Park, available to local people so they can seek independent legal advice:

Principle 3

 "The principles of ... transparency ... should be taken into account in all matters pertaining to the mutual interests of protected areas and indigenous and other traditional peoples."

Policy on Social Equity in Conservation and Sustainable use of Natural Resources - 2000 :

. . .

Indigenous and Traditional Peoples

Indigenous and traditional peoples have often been unfairly affected by conservation polices and practices, which have failed to
fully understand the rights and roles of indigenous peoples in the management, use and conservation of biodiversity. In line with
numerous international agreements (e.g., Agenda 21; ILO convention no. 169; Article 8(j) of the CBD; and the draft UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) several IUCN WCC resolutions emphasize indigenous people’s rights to lands
and territories, and natural resources on which they have traditionally subsisted. These resolutions stress the need to enhance
participation of indigenous peoples in all conservation initiatives and policy developments that affect them. Furthermore, they
recognise that indigenous peoples possess a unique body of knowledge related to the conservation and use of natural
resources. Recalling the WCC Resolutions 1.49 to 1.57, IUCN aims to:

Respect indigenous people's knowledge and innovations, and their social, cultural, religious and spiritual values and

Recognise the social, economic and cultural rights of indigenous peoples such as their right to lands and territories and
natural resources, respecting their social and cultural identity, their customs, traditions and institutions. Ensure full and just
participation of indigenous peoples in all conservation activities supported and implemented by IUCN.

Support indigenous peoples' right to make their own decisions affecting their lands, territories and resources, by assuring
their rights to manage natural resources, such as wildlife, on which their livelihoods and ways of life depend, provided they
make sustainable use of natural resources.

Strengthen the rights and full and equal participation of traditional institutions and to strengthen the capacity of indigenous
people to ensure that they benefit from any utilisation of their knowledge.

IUCN Social Policy Key Themes:

3. People and Protected Areas: Tenure and Participation

4. Indigenous Peoples and Conservation

The Durban Accord:
. . .
We urge commitment to involve local communities, indigenous and mobile peoples in the creation, proclamation and management of
protected areas.
. . .
We urge commitment to protected area management that shares benefits with indigenous peoples and local communities.

WCC Resolution 1.50 (Montreal, 1996):

on “Indigenous Peoples, Intellectual Property Rights, and Biological Diversity” called for “… respect for cultural diversity,  ... establishment of national policies to ensure the promotion, recovery, systematization and strengthening of indigenous knowledge related to biodiversity with the prior informed consent of the peoples concerned.”

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights

adopted June 27, 1981
entered into force October 21, 1986

Article 21

1. 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.

2. In case of spoliation the dispossessed people shall have the right to the lawful recovery of its property as well as to an adequate compensation.

Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

full document here

. . .

Article 10

Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.

. . .

Article 19

Indigenous peoples have the right to participate fully, if they so choose, at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights, lives and destinies through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions. 

. . .

Article 26

Indigenous peoples have the right to own, develop, control and use the lands and territories, including the total environment of the lands, air, waters, coastal seas, sea-ice, flora and fauna and other resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. This includes the right to the full recognition of their laws, traditions and customs, land-tenure systems and institutions for the development and management of resources, and the right to effective measures by States to prevent any interference with, alienation of or encroachment upon these rights. 

. . .

Article 30

Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources, including the right to require that States obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. Pursuant to agreement with the indigenous peoples concerned, just and fair compensation shall be provided for any such activities and measures taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.