Kenya Gathering Builds Global Collaboration

During the first week of August, 41 grassroots advocates from 18 countries gathered at the 2008 ELAW Annual Meeting in Mombasa, Kenya. They drew inspiration and strength from each other, and tapped each other’s expertise on dozens of issues facing disadvantaged communities all over the world.

During that week, ELAW partners in 21 countries, who could not attend the meeting, used ELAW’s network to collaborate electronically with meeting participants.

Advocates from 18 countries gathered at the 2008 ELAW Annual Meeting in Mombasa, Kenya  
Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, U.S., Uganda, Ukraine, Zimbabwe  

 

Group Photo ELAW Annual Meeting 2008
  ELAW partners from around the world meet in Mombasa, Kenya, for the 2008 ELAW Annual Meeting
 

ELAW partners collaborated on critical issues, including:

  • Human rights and the environment
  • Halting power plant emissions
  • World Bank policies
  • Protected area management
  • Global warming
  • GMOs and biosafety
  • Access to justice, access to information, public participation

Indigenous Rights Takes Center Stage at Annual Gathering

Kenyan human rights attorney Nixon Sifuna expressed the sentiments of many who participated in the 2008 ELAW Annual Meeting. In an e-mail message he sent to ELAW partners around the world, Nixon wrote: “This was my first annual conference and it was far more exciting than any meeting I have ever attended, wheresoever, howsoever, whatsoever, name it!”

Nixon has worked to protect the Ogiek and their tribal lands in Kenya’s Mau Forest from government plans to sell those lands to private interests. Kiplangat “Peter” Cheruiyot, a member of the Ogiek tribe, was an enthusiastic meeting participant. Peter was joined by several other indigenous peoples who presented their community struggles to the group:

Amos Isimbwa from the Busongora tribe in Uganda, Gordon Lupembe from the Bena tribe in Tanzania, Raju Mimi from the Idu Mishmi tribe in India, Eugin Nokrek from a tribal community living in the Modhupur Sal Forest in Bangladesh, and Anne Kajir, a 2007 Goldman Prize winner from Papua New Guinea.

Raju Mimu and the Idu Mishmi tribe in northeast India are trying to protect their ancestral lands from government plans to construct mega dams in Dibang Valley. At the close of the meeting, Raju said: “I am open to many, many new ideas. We thought protest was the only option, but we realize there are more options.”

Many thanks to ELAW partners at the Institute for Law and Environmental Governance (ILEG) and the Resources Conflict Institute (RECONCILE) who hosted this year’s meeting. Thanks also to The Christensen Fund and the Ford Foundation for providing valuable support.

Raju Mimu
“I am open to many, many new ideas. We thought protest was the only option, but we
realize there are more options.”

Raju Mimi
Idu Mishmi tribe, India


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Summary: 

During the first week of August, 41 grassroots advocates from 18 countries gathered at the 2008 ELAW Annual Meeting in Mombasa, Kenya. They drew inspiration and strength from each other, and tapped each other’s expertise on dozens of issues facing disadvantaged communities all over the world.