Box 1: A Summary of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within International Law
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is one of the series of international agreements which emerged from the 1992 World Conference on Environment and Development (“Earth Summit”) held in Rio de Janeiro. These conventions and agreements include:
- Agenda 21 concerned with Sustainable Development
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- The Statement of Principles on Forests
- The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
Since the original “Earth Summit” ten years ago, it has become increasingly clear that the Convention on Biological Diversity lies at the centre of the conventions and agreements which emerged from Rio. The Convention on Biological Diversity stands alone among international environmental agreements in touching upon every element of the fabric of life upon this planet. Its success or failure will be critical to all our futures.
In particular, the conservation of biodiversity is of concern to three key groups of peoples and communities whom this guide is designed to serve:
- The estimated 300 to 600 million indigenous people around the world whose livelihoods, languages, cultures and identities are inextricably bound up with the diversity of plant, animal and other species that are located within their territories.
- Up-to 1.4 billion members of local communities around the world, including many who identify themselves as belonging to indigenous peoples, who are classified as 'resource poor farmers' and depend upon biodiversity for their livelihoods and welfare . 
- A less certain number of indigenous peoples and local communities who depend upon marine and freshwater resources for their livelihoods and welfare.
These diverse indigenous peoples and local communities are central to the conservation of biodiversity because:
- Indigenous peoples territories coincide with the areas of highest biological diversity in the world. 
- Indigenous peoples and local communities are directly affected by colonisation, logging, mining, industrial agriculture, pollution, and other manifestations of western style development which are responsible for the destruction of the biodiversity upon which we all ultimately depend.
As such, indigenous peoples and local communities bear the brunt of the destruction of biodiversity in terms of the loss of their livelihoods, resources, lands and territories. The loss of human cultural diversity that inevitably accompanies this, lies in the form of destruction of languages, institutions, knowledge, identities, beliefs and distinctive visions of the world. All too often, the destruction of biodiversity is also marked by serious violations of human rights and condemnation to a life of poverty.
However, for many indigenous peoples and local communities, the western concept of biodiversity is likely to be an unfamiliar one, and the provisions and negotiations which surround the Convention may appear remote from their everyday concerns. In practice, nothing could be further from the truth. The debates taking place under the Convention on Biological Diversity have profound implications for indigenous peoples and members of local communities.
The 1980s and the 1990s were characterised by growing scientific and international public awareness of the consequences of the accelerating destruction of the diversity of life on this planet for the future well being of humanity. This growing concern was accompanied by increased recognition that indigenous peoples and local communities possess detailed knowledge of their local environments and have developed environmental management practices which may offer the key to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. As such, formerly marginalised indigenous peoples and local communities, who had classically been regarded as 'backwards' and as 'obstacles' to development, are increasingly seen as providing solutions to the complex problem of creating and maintaining a sustainable relationship with nature and our global environment.
This recognition is encapsulated in a variety of articles within the Convention, notably Article 8(j) and its 'related provisions' concerned with the role of 'traditional' knowledge in the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use, and access to genetic resources and benefit sharing.
In practice, the debates surrounding what are called "indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles" under the Convention have focused upon three issues:
- Documenting and disseminating traditional knowledge of the environment.
- Legitimating the exploitation of this knowledge for the development of commercially viable products.
- Establishing access and benefit sharing arrangements to ensure that developing countries and knowledge holders receive an equitable share of any benefits that may arise from the commercial exploitation of the genetic resources derived from traditional knowledge.
As this suggests, to date the debates taking place on the Convention have focused on the issue of 'traditional knowledge' of biodiversity and, in particular, the potential opportunities that this knowledge provides for economic and commercial exploitation of biodiversity.
However, while 'traditional knowledge' is widely recognised as being central to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, in the period between 1992 and the year 2000 indigenous peoples and local communities were largely either excluded from the debates under the Convention or relegated to the category of observers in the deliberations of governments.
Efforts to secure participation in the debates under the Convention have been led by indigenous peoples organisations from around the world and a diverse array of non-governmental organisations with a variety of agendas.
The focus of this guide will be upon the work of the indigenous peoples organisations making up the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity which has become a leading force in opening the Convention to the participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and wider civil society.
In the period between 1994 and the year 2000, indigenous delegates who make up the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity focused their attention on:
- Arguing for recognition of the right of indigenous peoples and local communities to participate in the debates taking place under the Convention; and
- Establishing the preconditions for the fair and equitable participation of indigenous peoples in the implementation of the Convention.
In the course of these debates indigenous peoples delegates from around the world have argued that the fundamental preconditions for their participation in the implementation of the Convention must be four-fold:
- Recognition that indigenous peoples are "rights-holders" under international law. Their existence as peoples and their rights to self-determination, their territories, languages, prior informed consent and to control over their own knowledge, as set down in existing and emerging international instruments, must be recognised(Box 1). 
- The need to focus on the conservation of biodiversity rather than the commercial exploitation of biodiversity.
- The need to focus on providing indigenous peoples and local communities with information about the Convention as a basis for their full and effective participation.
- The creation of mechanisms for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities from the local to the international level in all activities associated with the Convention.
Box 1: A Summary of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within International Law 
The rights of indigenous peoples are recognised under a variety of existing and emerging United Nations and Inter-American human rights instruments and procedures. These include:
- The International Covenants on Human Rights (1966).
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965).
- International Labour Organisation Convention No. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (1989).
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
- The United Nations Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
In the Inter-American system, the primary instruments are:
- The American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (1948).
- The American Convention on Human Rights (1969).
The Rights established in these instruments and procedures include:
- The right of indigenous peoples to self-identification as indigenous peoples
- The right to self-determination, representation and full participation in decision-making
- The right to ownership, possession and use of lands and resources historically occupied and used by indigenous peoples
- The right to cultural integrity
- The right to equal protection before the law and prohibition of racial discrimination
- The right to autonomy, self-government and self-development
- The right to health and a healthy environment.
- The rights to their languages, culture and respect for their religious belief systems
- The rights of indigenous children to their culture, lands, resources and to participation in decision-making which concerns them
- The right to prior informed consent on all matters that may affect indigenous peoples
- The right to control their own economic, social and cultural development.
- The right to determine "their own priorities for the process of development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use." (Convention 169).
The Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is composed of governments from around the world, is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. After many years of struggle, indigenous delegates made important breakthroughs in securing recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to participate in the work of the Convention during the Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP5), held in Nairobi, Kenya between the 15th and the 26th of May 2000.
The decisions taken during COP5 stretch far beyond the issue of traditional knowledge which has dominated existing debates. It now seems possible to argue that we may be potentially witnessing the progressive democratisation of the Convention with respect to the participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and wider civil society. As such, the majority of this guide will focus on the decisions taken at COP5 as a foundation for future assessments of progress.
The importance of these decisions can be seen when we consider the following brief summary of the outcomes of COP5 of concern to indigenous peoples and local communities.
- Recognition of the importance of the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities from the local to the international level in a wide variety of CBD work programmes.
- Recognition of the special roles of women from indigenous and local communities in the conservation of biodiversity.
- Recognition of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity as an advisory body to the COP.
- That "traditional knowledge should be valued, given the same respect and considered as useful and necessary as other forms of knowledge." 
- Promotion of the nomination of members of indigenous peoples and local communities to the international roster of experts.
- Promotion of the inclusion of indigenous and local community delegates within official delegations to CBD processes.
- The continuation of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions concerning traditional knowledge.
- The creation of a Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing which recognises the importance of the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities, and the principle of their prior informed consent on mutually agreed terms to any potential use of their knowledge.
As this brief summary suggests, the decisions taken by COP5 provide important opportunities for indigenous peoples and local communities to secure their participation and recognition of their rights in the debates taking place under the Convention. As we will see, in the wake of COP5, indigenous peoples organisations, with growing support from a number of Parties and the Secretariat of the CBD, have sought to consolidate these important developments. However, these developments also present a series of important challenges for indigenous peoples and members of local communities around the world:
- Much remains to be done in terms of gaining recognition that indigenous peoples are "rights-holders" under international law rather than mere "stakeholders" as they are presently classified under the Convention. That is, the rights of indigenous peoples to, inter alia , recognition of their existence and rights as peoples , self-determination, prior informed consent, ownership of their lands and territories and to determine their own forms of development. These rights have "crystallised" under international law within a concrete body of existing and emerging international human rights instruments, agreements, and the binding decisions of international human rights bodies. 
- The emphasis within many of the Convention's decisions remains firmly placed on documenting and disseminating traditional knowledge rather than the conservation or protection of traditional knowledge. In particular, the Parties appear determined to press forward with legitimising the commodification and commercial exploitation of traditional knowledge of genetic resources rather than protecting this knowledge as a foundation for pursuing the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.
- The development of the Convention has been marked by the creation of an ever-increasing number of work programmes, working groups, expert panels, expert groups, workshops and seminars and by the establishment of liaison groups with other Biodiversity related agreements and institutions. This also presents difficult challenges for indigenous peoples and local communities with respect to securing funding, establishing an effective division of labour, and continuity in participation in Convention debates.
- The Convention has been criticised for a tendency to generate text rather than action . This is reflected in the fact that decision-making within the Convention is driven by texts. Anyone seeking to participate within the debates surrounding the CBD is confronted by large volumes of documents which address complex global issues using specialised language. Mastering these documents is a major challenge for everyone, including governments, who participate within the debates under the CBD.
The purpose of this field guide is to assist indigenous peoples and local communities with addressing the third and fourth of these challenges as the basis for contributing to securing respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities throughout the work of the Convention.
This will be an experimental process and the field guide represents a work in progress. The aim of the present guide is three-fold:
- To introduce indigenous delegates and members of local communities who are new to the work of the Convention to biodiversity issues, the institutions of the Convention, the articles of the Convention, and the work of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.
- To analyse and explore the challenges and opportunities for engagement with the Convention represented by recent COP decisions as the basis for stimulating further discussion among indigenous peoples and local community organisations.
- To present an executive summary of each of the substantive decisions taken by the Fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) as the basis for further analysis and progress.
During COP5 the Parties took a total of twenty-nine decisions. Of these, twenty-six are either directly relevant or contain points of interest to indigenous peoples and local communities. The decisions taken by COP5 cover a total of 138 pages and generally consist of a series of introductory paragraphs and an annex, which taken together, make up the decision .
Some of these decisions are of common interest to indigenous peoples and local communities around the world, notably:
- The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Decision V/1)
- The Ecosystem Approach (Decision V/6)
- Identification, monitoring, assessment and indicators (Decision V/7)
- Alien Species (Decisions V/8)
- The Global Taxonomy Initiative (Decision V/9)
- Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (Decision V/10)
- Financing for biodiversity (Decisions V/11, V/12, V/13, V/22)
- The Clearing House Mechanism ( Decision V/14)
- Incentive Measures (Decision (V/15)
- Article 8 (j) and related provisions concerned with traditional knowledge (Decision V/16)
- Education and Public Awareness (Decision V/17)
- Impact Assessment, Liability and Redress (Decision V/18)
- National Reporting (Decision V/19)
- Operations of the Convention (Decision V/20)
- Cooperation (Decision V/21)
- Sustainable Use (Decision V/24)
- Tourism (Decision V/25)
- Access and Benefit Sharing (Decision V/26)
Other decisions taken by COP5 are more likely to concern indigenous peoples and local communities with a special interest in particular issues. These are:
- Inland Water Ecosystems (Decision V/2)
- Marine and Coastal Biodiversity (Decision V/3)
- Forest Biological Diversity (Decision V/4) 
- Agricultural Biodiversity (Decision V/5)
- Dryland and Semi-arid lands (Decision V/23)
In approaching these decisions it is important to bear in mind that decisions in one area of the Convention are also frequently relevant to other areas of the Convention. This is particularly true in the case of so-called cross cutting issues such as Article 8(j) and related provisions concerned with traditional knowledge. At the same time, it is also important to bear in mind that different areas of the Convention are under continuous development.
As such it is important to gain a balanced view of the decisions taken under the Convention and the problems and opportunities these decisions provide for indigenous peoples and local communities. In order to achieve this, the guide is divided into four sections:
- Section One provides a basic introduction to the topic of biodiversity and the importance of indigenous peoples and local communities in the conservation of biodiversity.
- Section Two provides a basic introduction to the Convention, its institutions, processes, articles of the Convention of concern to indigenous peoples and local communities, and to the work of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.
- Section Three is concerned with providing an analysis of the challenges and opportunities represented by the decisions taken at COP5 in the development of strategies for engagement with the Convention from the local to the international level.
- Section Four provides a brief Executive Summary of each of the 26 substantive decisions taken at COP5 as a basis for further analysis of existing and future decisions.
The field guide represents a work in progress and future versions of this field guide will be updated to include; the outcomes of COP6, thematic chapters on individual issues of concern to indigenous peoples and local communities, and resources for indigenous peoples and local community organisations seeking to engage with the work of the Convention.
It is hoped that this guide will contribute to the next and vital step necessary to secure the meaningful participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society within the implementation of the Convention. That is, the translation of the provisions of the Convention into a form that is readily intelligible by the peoples and communities in whose hands the future conservation of the world's biodiversity ultimately rests.