Information on the article of alleged human rights violations, published on 09.01.2024 in tagesschau.de
LLF is committed to ensuring strict human rights compliance and adherence to best conservation practice in the landscapes we financially support. A stringent social and environmental risk analysis and mitigation process is core to LLF’s grant program, in line with our Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS).
We noted with concern the article published in Tagesschau that mentions allegations of serious human rights violations in Odzala-Kokoua National Park (OKNP), managed by African Parks under a delegated cooperation agreement with the Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Forest Economy, Sustainable Development, and Environment.
Our implementation partner, African Parks, is already investigating all allegations raised and has engaged an external independent law firm to also look into the allegations. LLF will take appropriate measures and adapt safeguarding processes in accordance with the outcome of these investigations.
LLF’s mission is to guarantee long-term conservation funding that serves nature, climate, and people. LLF staunchly believes that all conservation efforts must unequivocally respect and promote human rights.
Background on the Odzala-Kokoua Legacy Landscape
Odzala-Kokoua lies in the heart of the Congo Basin. The landscape covers an area of 13,896 km2 and approximately 25,500 people live in its vicinity. The LLF co-funded program focuses on effective and participatory park management, the conservation of habitats and emblematic wildlife, such as gorillas and forest elephants, as well as on diversifying local livelihoods.
Odzala-Kokoua is a good example of staged access for sustainable use: The national park is divided into three different zones: 1) an ecodevelopment zone, where agriculture (subsistence and cash crops), agro-forestry, harvesting non-timber forest products, and hunting and fishing activities are practiced; 2) a second zone, restricted to controlled fishing activities permitted along a section of the Mambili River; 3) a central core zone, which is the most important area in terms of biological value, where no human settlements are allowed and only controlled scientific, educational, and tourist activities are possible . All three zones are inside the national park.
Numerous advancements have been made with respect to human rights safeguarding with LLF support. These include the engagement of an independent local human rights organization, Cercle des Droits de l’Homme et du Développement (CDHD), to proactively record complaints and conflicts among the local and Indigenous population. CDHC also provides human rights training to park staff, independently oversees investigations, and supports conflict resolution. Furthermore, two community representatives have voting rights on the highest park governance board to ensure dialogue between the park management and the Indigenous and local population. Lastly, a grievance mechanism is operational with multiple access channels and African Parks employs human rights and safeguarding staff, engages human rights focal points, and is developing safeguarding tools, including free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) protocols and Indigenous Peoples Plans to strengthen rights-based engagement with the local and Indigenous population.