Rights-Based Approaches to Endogenous Development

The authors of this article are Kabir Bavikatte and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) and was originally published in Endogenous Development Magazine 6: ”Bio-cultural Community Protocols enforce Biodiversity Benefits”, pg 4-6. It can be found online at www.compasnet.org

Natural Justice (Lawyers for Communities and the Environment) is an NGO working with indigenous peoples and local communities to develop rights-based approaches to securing their continued management of their bio-cultural heritage. Bio-cultural community protocols are a novel type of rights based-approach that can support communities’ rights to self-determination and endogenous development and help communities to constructively engage with other stakeholders in accordance with locally defined priorities and procedures.

The Right to Endogenous Development

Endogenous development describes a community process of defining and working towards future plans according to local values. Endogenous development processes promote the use of existing resources, assets and values within communities to support the collective management of local traditions, cultures, spirituality, and natural resources. Endogenous development also stresses that external interventions and assistance must be undertaken only when the community grants free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Interventions aim to strengthen communities’ capacities for endogenous development by agreeing on a vision of success. The vision of success consists of community-endorsed changes in practices and behaviours that would occur after a certain time span within a locality as a result of strengthened endogenous development. These changes often relate to management of natural resources, diversity of livelihood strategies, local leadership and governance, intra- and inter-community dialogue, dignity, value attached to cultural and spiritual knowledge, and capacities to negotiate access to external knowledge and resources. Endogenous development is founded on the principle of self-determination, which is also reflected in international law. Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) states that, “Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The UNDRIP’s explicit recognition of the centrality of endogenous development to self-determination constitutes a political victory at the international level, but since compliance with UNDRIP is voluntary, its effective implementation often remains elusive at the local level.

Endogenous development is already present and active in all indigenous and local communities and reflected in their capacities for self-determination. However, many communities’ capacities are undermined by the complex series of social, cultural, spiritual, economic, political, and legal relationships in which they continue reading–>