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The Maasai of Tanzania demand the rights of indigenous peoples in the framework of the UN

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NAIROBI, Kenya — The Maasai people of Tanzania, resisting government pressure to leave their ancestral homes in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, presented their demands for indigenous land rights to negotiators in Nairobi finalizing the global biodiversity framework proposed by the United Nations.

Thursday’s appeal by the Maasai community of Loliando follows a violent confrontation with Tanzanian security forces two weeks ago that forced many to flee to neighboring Kenya.

A ruling by the East African Court of Justice on the politically sensitive issue was expected this week but was postponed until later this year due to “unavoidable circumstances”, according to a court opinion.

“We are accused by our government of being destroyers of our environment and we are stripped of Tanzanian citizenship,” the Maasai said in their letter to the UN biodiversity meeting. “This is the fourth forced eviction from our land. And our leaders languish in detention in large numbers. 20 of them are charged with murder. We can’t tell the world what’s going on because the media is forbidden from covering our story.

Cases of abuse, torture and large-scale evictions continue to be reported among indigenous communities, as seen in Tanzania, where the Maasai community say they face displacement to create a protected area for hunting.

Maasai leaders have been joined by civil society actors and other indigenous community leaders in their calls for the inclusion and recognition of indigenous lands, territories and land rights in the framework, which is expected to be approved by world leaders when they meet in Montreal, Canada. in December of this year.

“The only way to make it a strong instrument is to incorporate and ensure a strong human rights element and respect the role of indigenous peoples and local communities,” said Lucy Mulenkei, co-chair of the International Forum. indigenous peoples on biodiversity, during a press conference on the sidelines of the negotiations.

The indigenous forum also called for free, prior and informed consent of land use as well as a strong financial mechanism for conservation.

“If we don’t have a framework to protect nature that genuinely recognizes and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who actually conserve biodiversity, humanity will be at risk,” said Ramiro Batzin of the indigenous forum.

The global biodiversity framework is intended to replace the old Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which were agreed by UN parties at a 2010 convention on biological diversity in Japan’s Aichi prefecture. None of the 20 targets of the Aichi Accords has been met by the expiration of the 2020 deadline. This year.

Key issues still need to be debated, with rich countries disagreeing with developing countries on several sticking points, such as benefit-sharing, removing incentives to harm nature, biotechnology and financing developing countries. development to strengthen national goals and technology.

The proposed biodiversity framework seeks to comprehensively address a number of global environmental issues, including pollution, climate change and other human-made impacts on nature, such as the illegal trade in species wildlife, habitat loss and over-consumption.

Biodiversity decline and ecosystem degradation worsen climate change, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It says the new framework must “aim to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve recovery by 2050”.

The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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