Translating Policies on the Rights of Indigenous Communities Into Concrete Practice to Mitigate Conflicts Over Natural Resource Exploitation in Central Africa: Case Study of the Baka People in Eastern Cameroon

Nah Anthony Tetinwe


Although the exploitation of natural resources has been presented as an impetus to economic growth, it is often associated with dispossession and deprivation of indigenous/local communities with respect to their land rights, control of resources, human rights, self-determination, cultural integrity and the right to development. This constitutes a key threat to the social, economic and cultural rights of indigenous communities. In their struggle to exercise these rights, conflicts are bound to emerge, emanating from the gap between the way the government and companies conceptualize the value of environmental resources and its connection to the livelihood and cultural significance of indigenous populations. Although the legal frameworks governing land tenure and natural resources guarantee the rights of indigenous communities to an extent, these rights exist only on papers and are not being translated into concrete practice that may create positive impacts for indigenous communities. We assume that the blame is shared by companies who are indifferent to sustaining indigenous communities and addressing the negative impact of their operations; and by national governments who do not commit themselves to ensuring that regulations on the protection of the rights of indigenous communities are translated into practice. An empirical approach to data collection and doctrinal analysis of primary and secondary data with a particular focus on the Baka People in Eastern Cameroon would reveal how the rights guaranteed under these legal instruments are not being translated into practice to benefit local communities—constituting the root cause of conflicts. The article recommends the timely and adequate guarantee and protection of the rights of indigenous communities as well as some possible ways and procedures through which these rights may be adequately guaranteed and translated into practice.


Policies; Rights; Indigenous Communities; Conflicts; Natural resources; Central Africa; Baka; Eastern Cameroon

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