ILC members use different strategies to work productively with governments. They have used the following guiding steps across regions to ensure the process is successful.
This "how-to note" is the result of a collective brainstorming exchange that took place during the second workshop of the Community Land Protection Learning Initiative, in July 2019. Members from all over the world contributed to it: RMI, JKPP, RRF, Observatorio Ciudadano, ICCA, IIED and NAMATI. This note is part of a series of five.
THE COMMUNITY LAND PROTECTION LEARNING INITIATIVE IS EQUIPPING ILC MEMBERS WITH THE PRACTICAL SKILLS TO EMPOWER COMMUNITIES TO DOCUMENT AND PROTECT THEIR COMMUNITY LAND RIGHTS.
HOW TO WORK productively with the government ?
Ensure the transparency and accountability of your organisation
CSRC is committed to ensuring transparency, accountability, responsiveness to public needs and public participation in the governance on their organization. CSRC secures its reputation as a transparent NGO by employing innovative strategies such as social audits. They hold annual social audits, where they invite over 200 people, including government officials, to present a critical analysis of land rights nationally, and an appraisal of the performance of national NGOs. The data is published on public platforms, ensuring transparency and accountability of NGOs.
Governments are keen to work with CSOs with a proven reputation. CSRC commissions external assessments by research institutions to produce objective appraisal reports on the organisation’s performance. This has strengthened their working relationship with the government.
Forge good relations with media
Writing trainings for field staff and community leaders enhance their abilities to write publishable op-eds and articles. CSRC has staff who collect community members’ articles and send them to national media for publication, effectively publicizing the community’s effort to protect their land rights.
Forge good relations with the government
CSRC supports grassroots leaders to present their grievances directly to government or commissions. This enables the communities to speak with passion and conviction, and the government to understand the magnitude of the communities’ plight.
Maintaining good relations with former government officials is important for ensuring their buy-in in community land protection programmes. CSRC actively organizes informal meetings and ceremonies, and invited former government officials such as ministers, secretaries, joint secretaries and office-level staff, in an effort to maintain good relations with them and to get their long-term buy-in in their community initiatives.
CRSC is now developing a five-month training package on land use planning, land protection, land governance and related aspects for five government officials and five independent activists from seven provinces.
Act as an intermediary between the government and the community
Because of CSRC’s good relations with the government of Nepal and the local community, they act as an interlocutor between the government and the National Land Rights Forum (NLRF), a forum of 100,000 people. When the NLRF actively protests, demanding policy change, CSRC intervenes to develop community-oriented solutions. To address a 10-year Maoist insurgency, CSRC first convinced the government that the conflict was land-related, and then worked with them to formulate solutions. Support given to the government includes:
- Support to the government to include land in its agenda
- Technical support in land reform initiatives
- Facilitating collaboration with civil society
- Developing strategies for communicating with community members, especially during protests.
how to get community members involved?
Support public protest
A united civil society is indispensable to advocacy work. Dispersed communities often have different agendas; however, CSOs can assist communities to develop joint agendas, unifying them in the protection of their land rights. When communities unify for a cause, they are empowered to mobilise protest action, and to demand the protection of their land rights.
Get media coverage
OC is using the media in an innovative way by ensuring media coverage of community protests and government-led consultations, including the community’s rejection of laws that do not protect their land rights.
Most importantly, OC arranges and facilitates community meetings, inviting policymakers to interact with indigenous communities directly.
Build a national coalition
National coalitions of like-minded organisations, guided by a common goal, are more efficient at protecting community land rights and effecting policy change than individual organisations. To strengthen their advocacy work, OC works with national coalitions of civil society organisations.
Use international human rights laws
International human rights laws and instruments are effective tools to advocate for new national laws. OC encourages indigenous communities to participate in the law-making process by ensuring that community leader and members’ voices are heard.
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