Abstract: In large parts of the world, forests remain the domain of the state in which the rights of forest-dependent
peoples are denied or insecure. E fforts to restore justice to, and alleviate the poverty of, these marginalized
communities have often focused on tenurial reforms. S ometimes those reforms have led to important improvements
in livelihoods, mainly by stabilizing communities’ land use systems and by giving them greater
security. H owever, these improvements have not prevented communities from suffering other forms of
social exclusion and impoverishment. O n the basis of a review of 17 years of programmatic work with
forest peoples in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by the F orest Peoples Programme, this paper explores the
complexity of rights that need recognition if community-based livelihoods in forests are to be secured and
well-being is to be improved. T he conclusion from this review is that programs to reform tenure in forests
must be based on a broader understanding of the basis for asserting rights and must take into account a
far wider range of human rights than are generally considered in forest policy debates. An effective rightsbased
approach to forestry reform to ensure justice and poverty alleviation requires attention to a much
broader spectrum of rights than just the assertion of the right to property. T enures must be appropriate to
the culture and context of the communities concerned. S ystems of representation require effective recognition.
C ommunities must be able to control their lands and resources. C ultural heritage should be protected.
Basic rights to health and life and to civil and political rights and freedoms need to be secured. S ocial,
cultural, and economic rights need to be respected. Although such rights are often recognized in countries’
constitutions, in international customary law, and in nationally ratified human rights treaties, they are
rarely taken into account in narrow sectoral decisionmaking about forests. F orest governance systems
must secure this broader spectrum of rights if forest peoples are to benefit from forestry reforms.
Auteurs et éditeurs
The Rights and Resources Initiative is a strategic coalition of international, regional and community organizations engaged in development, research and conservation. Together, we are working to encourage greater global commitment and action on pro-poor tenure, policy and market reforms.
Fournisseur de données
The Online Burma/Myanmar Library (OBL) is a non-profit online research library mainly in English and Burmese serving academics, activists, diplomats, NGOs, CSOs, CBOs and other Burmese and international actors. It is also, of course, open to the general public.