Legal Pluralism in Natural Resource Management
April 30, 2012
School of Business, Coimbatore
It is said to be one of the most controversial mining projects in the world. Although India’s Supreme Court cleared Vedanta’s proposal for bauxite mining in Odisha in 2007, the project has not proceeded due to fierce protests from the Dongria Kondh tribals who live there.
The tribals don’t want any mining activities in their sacred hills, and with good reason. They have lived here for eons and depend on the forested land for their survival.
This example was presented in the track for Indigenous Community Rights in Resource Management at the recently organized workshop at the Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore.
The workshop was part of an International Conference on Legal Pluralism in Natural Resource Management which was organized in partnership with the Asian Initiative on Legal Pluralism and the Commission on Legal Pluralism, Netherlands. Download Conference Report »
It focused on cases and perspective from not only across India but also South and South-East Asian nations.
For example, speaking in the same track was a professor from Malaysia who highlighted the fact that state laws were often used to exploit natural resources without any concern for indigenous tribes. Phillipines and Indonesia were cited as examples of countries with better track record as far as legal pluralism of natural resources was concerned.
“In many parts of the world, in the case of usage of natural resources such as forest, water, fisheries and minerals, the rights are dynamic, flexible and subject to frequent negotiations. There is uncertainty due to depletion as well as due to social, economic and political changes,” explained the organizers.
“Our goal was to explore the role of multiple institutions in managing conflicts and shaping negotiations, policies and adapting to changes,” they underlined.
At the inauguration, these same points were emphasized by Dr. Sudarsana Natchiappan, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India.
Commenting on how history had taken its course, he said, “In the 18th and 19th centuries, expansion of colonial rule by various countries in search of natural resources for value addition and markets, through the industrial revolution created the explosion of laws, regulation and multiplication of legal pluralism.”
The inaugural session was followed by sessions on Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Issues, which were respectively chaired by Dr. Sulistyowatri Irianto, Law University of Indonesia, Indonesia and Dr. D. Parthasarthy, IIT Bombay, India.
Later sessions on Applications were chaired by Dr. Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdem, Netherlands and Dr. Svein Jentoft, University of Tromso, Norway.
Research scholars had the opportunity to next present papers in six different tracks. The first three tracks focused on forests, water and fisheries. The final three elaborated on rights of indigenous communities, historical understandings and governance issues.
“This conference was a wonderful experience for me, and will be a memory forever,” stated Dr. Svein Jentoft, University of Tromso, Norway.
“I want to congratulate you for organizing the legal pluralism workshop and conference in Amrita,” Dr. Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdem, Netherlands told the organizers.
“It was a very successful event, meticulously organized, gracefully facilitated, and academically rewarding. Your staff was enthusiastic and helpful and the campus a pleasure to explore,” he added.