ABSTRACT

Rights have become a central concept in international forest policy and advocacy. Local people, forest communities, and indigenous peoples have long demanded tenure rights to forest, asserted cultural rights, and requested a say in their own affairs. Yet, it is only now that their individual demands as forest people and collective claims as forest peoples are finding recognition at national and global levels, with many governments enacting legislation to recognize customary tenure and governance; post-socialist governments in Europe and Asia restoring forests to their historical owners and distributing them to rural communities; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling on cases dealing with forest peoples’ collective rights to cultural and political self-determination; and negotiators for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) making reference to the rights of indigenous peoples and the members of forest communities. 1