Human rights, gender and displacement
Anita Cheria and Edwin[i]
The issue of gender equality is a fundamental issue that one needs to deal with.
James D Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group, 28 January 2002
The issue for us is empowerment. The issue for us is inclusion. The issue for us is to ensure that poor people reach their potential.
James D Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group, 7 May 2002
What is not permissible for an individual is not permissible for a group of individuals or a nation.
—M K Gandhi
Disproportionately high numbers of Adivasis and Dalits are displaced in the name of development—ironically for ‘production’ or ‘conservation.’ Often the same community is displaced more than once in a lifetime. The bias against the Adivasi and Dalit communities has been long and widespread, both within and outside India. It has taken different forms as different institutions of the state and those outside it—non-state actors such as religious institutions and businesses—have taken control over their societies and their resources.
Society has ensured that their history is delegitimised and their present, always under threat- physically, socially, culturally and economically. The state has reinforced this marginalization by declaring all Adivasi lands as forests and thus ‘national wealth.’ Similarly, it does not recognize the common lands in villages as that belonging to Dalits. Common ownership, use and nurturing of resources characteristic of these communities is neither recognized nor encouraged. These are consistently denied, and then in a perverse logic, they are indoctrinated to believe that they are impoverished because they ‘have nothing.’
The present set of projects—of development or conservation—have displacement as an integral part to make them viable, cost effective—and are possible only because they involve a large number of Adivasis and Dalits. This paper draws patterns and lessons from ongoing and continuing processes. As recently as February 2003 the Adivasi in Wayanad in north Keralam were killed in February 2003 when they went to reclaim their land—land that the state did not restore to them for over a decade after favourable verdicts, but land that the state protects for the encroachers. This is after about three decades of judicial struggle, despite having even the high court verdict in their favour. Even in April 2003, in Chakwada village in Rajasthan the Dalits still cannot take water from the common pond—despite police protection and international attention. The entire Dalit community has been fined Rs 51,000 because one boy dared to access the pond. The list is endless from all parts of the country.
This note lists some contemporary human rights standards, the context in which the discussion on engendering displacement and rehabilitation can take place. A sample of the displacement and relocation institutions’ [DRIs] understanding of their role and responsibilities follows. It then looks at issues related to tribal women, which DRI ‘development’ projects should consider and the means of doing it. It does not provide an exhaustive list. It looks at the process and underlying values that need to be translated into context specific systems, procedures and instruments to ensure that the core issues are addressed.
Demonstrated good practice by the state in terms of legal and executive policies and implementation should be a precondition for funding rather than an implementation, or post project, promise. When DRIs fund a project, it enables the state to disengage itself from its people—since the money is coming from elsewhere—and abdicate its accountability to the nation. If it is not accountable even to global human rights standards, then DRIs funding is a recipe for a lawless state—as amply proved in the half–century of DRIs existence. Holding states to internationally accepted human rights standards should be a non–negotiable condition for DRIs support—material, financial or human resource.
Once the minimum human rights standards for citizens is set up, the collective intelligence, expertise and skills should be used to find innovative means of implementation and not to find excuses. Only a very strong commitment and determination by agencies involved in both recognizing and accepting the biases and practises within the system can effectively address the issue of safeguarding and enhancing the rights of women within marginalized societies, in this case Adivasis and Dalits. Only when the British banned child labour in their country did their birth rate come down. Only when the cost of exclusion and displacement becomes prohibitive will development become truly inclusive, with benefits reaching those making the sacrifice.
Human rights: the evolution of minimum standards
For much of human history, there was an implicit belief in the ‘neutrality,’ ‘benevolence’ or ‘goodness’ of the state. It was felt that ‘laws’ were inherently good, and the state would not descend to violence against its own people. This is a rather naïve assumption. It took the Second World War to set things in perspective. The killing of the six million Jews by the government of Germany was bad enough. What really horrified the world was that it was all legal and done according to the law by ‘normal’ citizens. Soon after the war, the comity of nations came together in 1945 to form the United Nations to ‘promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.’ Member States undertook to promote ‘higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development’ and ‘universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.’
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR], fleshes out the general notion of human rights contained in the Charter and lays the foundation for the Organization’s subsequent human rights standard–setting work. In just 30 short articles, UDHR sets out the world’s minimum standards for the treatment of all human beings.
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Article 2 makes clear what this law is—and what distinguishes it from the understanding of law as it was then.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non–self–governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Subsequent articles address the immediate horrors seen, and consolidate the gains of the human rights movement.
[Article 3] Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person;  No slavery or servitude; No torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;  the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law;  nationality;  the right to marry and to found a family... equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
These were not absolute rights before. They were legally taken away from Jews in all of Germany and German occupied territories. Unfortunately, entire sections of society are legally and socially denied these rights even today—sometimes over 60% of the populations in some countries. Women [about 50% of the population] do not have the right to property, or the choice of spouse. Their identity is subsumed into their father’s or their husbands. Indigenous people often do not even have the right to an identity. The disabled, the gays and lesbians… put together, 60% could even be an underestimate.
States consistently argue that human rights standards do not apply for their citizens due to some ‘special circumstance’ or ‘exception’. It also claims that the effects on certain sections is ‘unintentional’ or ‘collateral damage.’ The Declaration on the Right to Development Article 8 makes it clear that there must be equality of opportunity for all in access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and fair distribution of income. It does not make a distinction whether discrimination is deliberate or unintentional. If the result of a process or event is unequal access, it is considered discriminatory.
Over the years, a whole network of human rights instruments and mechanisms were developed to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur. International Human Rights standards were developed to protect people’s human rights against violations by individuals, groups or nations.
Declarations adopted by the international community are not legally binding, but have the legitimacy of accepted human rights standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights , the Declaration on the Right to Development  and the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance . Many countries have incorporated the provisions of these declarations into their laws and constitutions. International covenants and conventions have the force of law for the States that ratify them.
The importance of human rights
Nations around the globe have many different forms of political systems spanning the entire range of human ingenuity. However, despite the differences in the administrative and political systems, the basic rights of individuals and communities—the social, economic and cultural [SEC] rights—need to be ensured. The fulfilment of SEC rights is the minimum common standard for livelihood, no matter what the form of government. The SEC rights are elaborated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR].
The state and its instruments have for long ignored the lessons of history, and reaped the consequences. Some countries try to brazen it out. Nepal say’s ‘Nepalese are a poor but happy people.’ India prides itself as a ‘rich country with poor people.’ The fact remains that wherever there is a ‘rich area’—whether in a rich country or a poor country—a substantial population remain trapped in the vicious cycle of riches–repression–revolt. The rich try to corner more and more of the ‘national’ wealth, and the poor resist. When people resist, the state tries doublespeak, evasion, sophistry … and ultimately force and the people revolt. This, incidentally, is not a new phenomenon, but one recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The preamble of UDHR states quite unambiguously that:
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, …
This cycle of riches—repression—revolt, the cynical loot of the poor, is the reason why there is such distrust of the state and its minions.
Displacement: the human rights standards
The UN Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/77, entitled ‘Forced evictions,’ adopted on 10 March 1993, states in part: ‘The Commission on Human Rights . . . affirms that the practice of forced evictions constitutes a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing.’ The right to housing is ensured in ICESCR 11.1, ICERD 5.e.iii; CEDAW 14.2.h, CRC 27.3, UDHR 25.1. Displacement disproportionately affects the already poor to benefit the already rich.
At the very minimum, the DRIs should meet international standards set out in the following human rights instruments of the United Nations.
· Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR].
· Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources [PSNR].
· International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [ICESCR].
· International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR].
· Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW].
· Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC].
· The unanimous UN resolution on Forced Evictions, by the Sub–Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities [RFE], on 26 August 1991.
· UN Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/77, entitled ‘Forced evictions,’ adopted on 10 March 1993.
DRIs often quibble about what the project affected have or had. The human rights non–negotiable is to ensure a fair [not minimum] standard of living: 200 litres of water and 4000 calories per day, clean air… as per WHO standards, and infrastructure to sustain these standards. They must be the first beneficiaries of the project. These human rights standards must then be translated into simple terms, conditions and government orders that can be followed by the government staff at all levels, especially the law enforcing agencies like the police and the forest department.
Integrating gender and child rights
CEDAW provides good guidelines on what must be addressed to ensure that there is no discrimination against women. But it is difficult to ensure the rights of women and children when the communities themselves do not have rights. Women are not homogenous. The situation of the rich and poor among them vary. The social conditions, the discrimination based on the colour of the skin, of age combine to form a complex reality. These intersections of different forms of exclusion need to be factored into any ‘engendering’ process. The issues facing women of discriminated communities need to be—and perhaps can only be—addressed as a subset of addressing issues facing the entire discriminated community. However, this is a vital dimension, specially of children.
From the stand point of mental health, the hazards of change are actually not as great on those who are immediately involved as they are for their children. It is not among the first generation from simple levels of life to complex levels, that we find principal disturbances which accompany technical change.
Rather it is in the lives of their children [Violating ICESCR 12.1, 12.2a.], reared in conditions within which no stable patterns have been developed, by parents who, while they may be able to weather the storm themselves be drawing on a different childhood experience, have no charts to give their children. Juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, drug addiction, empty, defeated, meaningless lives, lives which are a series of drifting rudderless activities, adoption of oversimplified political programmes which promise relief from their feelings of inadequacy and lack of direction—these are the prices which are paid not so much by the first as by the disturbed members of the second generation.
....Assuring mental health to the second generation, the children of the uprooted who have not yet themselves taken root, requires more than the observation of sound psychological principles...it requires new social inventions, most of which have not even been glimpsed in the outline.[ii]
The most important threats faced by the women relate to her sexuality, and to her reproductive roles. The agents of the state—primarily the armed forces and forest department officials—routinely sexually abuse them. Misusing the desire for security and the differences in culture, the issue of ‘unwed mothers’ has reached disturbing proportions in some areas. The impact of tourism and government staff in introducing new diseases to their areas is often underreported. These include sexually transmitted diseases of all hues, the most fatal being HIV/AIDS.
In rehabilitation, the entire community comes into conflict with the communities that are already present in the area [the ‘host’ community]. The women bear the brunt of this too, for their work—collecting firewood, water, fodder—unlike the men’s, cannot be put off to another day. The women need to take care of the children and, as part of their nurturing functions, take care of all those unwell. In times of change, the trauma is on all—yet women themselves have no time for their own needs.
The present non–negotiable
DRIs need to take into account the new reality. They do have periodic consultations and even try to evolve policy by putting its policy documents on the web. However, for any policy or programme to have legitimacy, it must have two basic components, both demonstrated:
· Respect for human rights.
It should meet the standards set out by the universal declaration of human rights [UDHR] and the basic covenants [ICCPR, ICESCR, ICERD]. It needs to take into account the advances in human rights such as CRC, CEDAW, ICERD, the declaration on involuntary displacement and discrimination.
· Good governance.
It is not enough if the project respects human rights. It should be transparent, accountable, and inclusive to those affected by it. People now want to be informed decision makers. Though they may have little interest, or even welcome the project wholeheartedly, they would still like to give their informed consent.
The ‘added cost’ of this inclusion is much less than what delays due to resistance and cost of mitigation of adverse effects would otherwise be. Not taking this into account led to the rather avoidable situation of a prime minister—protected by elite commandos with the latest weapons—having to ‘cancel’ this inaugural function in the Koel Karo region because of ‘security concerns’ from tribals armed with stone age weapons at best.
Institutions of displacement: the major constraints
The state has been the primary actor in displacement. Due to this, there is an inherent mistrust of the state. Even the terminology used is different. What is termed by the state and the elite as ‘development’ is termed as displacement by the not–so–fortunate. This ranges across the spectrum whether it be projects such as big dams—with Narmada being the prime example—or even ‘minor work’ such as roads, and other policies that create internal refuges such as lack of rural investment. This silent displacement is so widespread that international agencies no longer make a distinction on internal and external refugees for humanitarian relief and aid purposes.
In the name of ‘development’, DRIs carry out displacement. International finance agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF head this list. These institutions of displacement have, or had, rather progressive policies. However, they were constrained on two grounds. One is that they were working through the institutions of the state—which is in constant conflict with the weaker sections of society. Another is that the better part of their intelligence went into subverting their own standards.
Working through the state
The World Bank does not lend money to the ‘beneficiaries’ but to host governments—who are often in conflict with the ‘beneficiaries.’ The bank’s instruments are the state—with token ‘NGO’ participation—and its bottom–line is profit. Working with the people, the poorest of the poor Adivasi women, needs to be without any assumptions that the state, multinationals or NGOs are supportive of them. This means a major investment. The world has moved far ahead of the basic assumptions of DRIs. It is no longer state centric. The minimum expected standards are different.
DRIs are constrained by the fact that they work through the Indian state. In the period after independence, it was generally accepted that there would need to be some sacrifice by some people for sometime for ‘national interest.’ Half a century has brought increasing disillusionment with that premise. The same set of people have been forced to make the sacrifice again and again without proportionate gain for too long. For instance electricity is exported from the tribal areas, yet the tribal villages themselves are the last to get benefit from electrification. This development-displacement pattern has eroded the legitimacy of the state. It is no longer sufficient for the state to proclaim that the project is in national interest for its acceptance. Now there are no sacrosanct authorities—government, big business, feudal lords, banks or parents. Everyone is answerable.
That the state is hostile to the Adivasi is no longer in dispute. The state is in constant conflict with these communities, and totally ignorant of the evolving human rights standards. Due to the cycle of impunity, couldn’t care less that they aren’t.
The Adivasi lands are in various degrees of exclusion, and development policies continually hammer their life and livelihood systems. Even when a well–meaning department of the state tries to help the Adivasi—for instance put in a hand pump in their village—another department [usually the forest department] comes along to say that it is ‘not permitted.’ Numerous violations in Adivasi villages bear testimony to this. For instance, there is this list submitted to the World Bank inspection panel by the adivasi of Nagarhole in Karnataka, India.[iii]
… a clear instance of violation of Nagarhole people's human rights and their traditional rights to land and resources, and unwillingness on the part of the Forest Department/the Karnataka state government to recognize the tribal protective measures as envisaged in the constitution etc. The violations happen some times in the name. of forest laws and many a times as an act of outright violation of tribal peoples' right to life. So the forest department is hell-bent on evicting the tribal people from the N.P. area. The following illustrations elucidate this
In Golur tribal hadi (M.D.Kote) people were harassed and physically
beaten up by the forest department officials and the police for taking up
agricultural activities in July 1998.
Some of the good intentioned research students visiting these tribal
people in their hadies were also harassed and abused by forest department
officials as violating the forest laws.
In Chandanakere (Viraipet taluk) the Yarava tribals who were forcefully
evicted from inside the National Park area (Shantipura) are forbidden from
entering into the forest to visit their burial grounds and sacred graves in the
name of development project. 36 families are squeezed into mere 13 houses built
by the department in 1985-87. They are land-locked without an approach path or
road. They are cut off from the forest by a trench and an electric fencing in
the name of eco-development project. They are facing severe threat to their
existence. There by the non-tribals who are encroaching on their land and not
allowing them to use thoroughfares.
In Gonigadde, the tribal residents are harassed and abused by the forest
department. People for keeping live animals like Goats, chickens and pet dogs
as recently as an year back. Animals were forcefully removed and a Police case
was lodged against them. The road to Gonigadde hadi is chain-gated and the key
is kept by the local forest which is not comfortably available to the people.
Neither it was not given nor the road was not opened for transporting paddy
grass for thatching the house-roofs.
The people are not allowed to go to the forest to collect the wild grass, to collect honey etc.
In Gonigadde, in the very middle of the hadi there is a Honey Tree which is sacred and traditionally important for the hadi people. The people are forbidden from collecting honey from their tree in the name of ecodevelopment project.
People are not allowed to build houses here and 2 to 3 families are squeezed into one single hut. In Gonigadde people are forbidden from cultivating their fields and monoculture forest saplings like eucalyptus and bamboo are planted on their paddy fields. Gonigadde is a tribal Jamma center and people who were forced out from here earlier are forbidden from visiting the temples here.
Even after repeated requests for reconstructing an electric line which had got damaged and dismantled and abandoned in the name of forest laws, is not at all repaired.
In Murkal as recently as a month back on July 28, two innocent tribal
people were dragged out of their house from their sleep at 5 am, in the night,
beaten up and under false cases sent for the jails. These people are harassed
to make them oblige to move out of their home forest simply under the threat of
the forest officials. The tribal people here are afraid to move out.
In Murakal in spite of the local tribal people’s opposition, the Forest
Department obdurately went ahead with the construction of resorts. It was
earlier declared illegal by the state high court and recently the Central
government too has declared it illegal and has urged the state govt. to take action
against the erring officials.
In Kolangere, a year back the tribal people tried to cultivate some
piece of land in their original place Eeramanehadlu. But they had to face
atrocities from the RFO and his staff. Here the people are forbidden from
building house and in some houses then to their families are squeezed in one
In Nanichi Gaddehadi two years back the local RFO trampled down planted
paddy fields and beat up tribals and lodged Use, cases against them.
In Karekandi, Junglehadi,and Ayarhosahall tribal hadies, many people are
harassed and beaten up for cultivating and false cases are registered against
them. The roads leading to these hadies are trenched forcefully in spite of the
Tattekere, besides all the restrictions on entering into the forest are
forbidden from budding house. Those evicted people are (45 families) squeezed
into a small, marshy area of less than 2 acres.
Kodange, the forest department people wanted to fence out the tribal people who
live in the inside fringe of the National Park. But the people resisted this
act and the department had to fence along the de-line. But in spite of the
request by the people, the department didn't allow a path out for the people's
one of the tribal forest watches J. K. Ramu, was murdered while on duty by a
gang of timber smugglers. The higher up officials in the department were so
callous towards this murder and are consciously avoiding serious investigation
into the mafia gang behind the act. The department has failed to pay any
compensation do far. This negligence and the failure of the department to pay
any compensation is also a part of its harassment strategy to move out the
Nagarhole, the tribal people are harassed for going into the forest for
collecting firewood, wild grass, honey, small game hunting and they have to
move out always under threat from the forest officials. Another particular
instance of violation is for bidding of supply of tiles from the BDO's office
by the local ULA himself
14. In Bellenahosalli, Hunsur while putting trenches to demark a decline the officially of the forest department encroached upon tribal lands granted to them by the revenue department. All the hadies and the families staying inside the park are forbidden from availing any of the development programmes from the government. The department has sent strict order to development programme's implementing agencies not to undertake any such activities like roads, drinking water, house construction etc. because they want to shift the tribal people out. This is the method of slow strangulation to force the people out of the National Park. There are also many a cases of violations in Nagarhole while people went for cultivation, put fencing for protection as in 1996 June.
A more comprehensive listing of the constant low intensity conflict and slow strangulation is difficult. Even Prime Minister Narashimha Rao admitted at the meeting of Chief Ministers, 4 October 1991:
Attempts by the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to break away from this syndrome of deprivation and improve their lot and claim what is rightfully theirs are often the principal cause of the atrocities on them… there is a lack of sensitivity on the part of the police and the district administration...The law enforcers themselves, in many cases, fail to act promptly or collude with the other side.
Misuse of knowledge and position
The World Bank operational directives are much more in line with global human rights standards than the Indian legal framework. If the bank wants to be trusted, then this intelligence must be used to find ways to ensure human rights, be on the side of the weakest, to improve the quality of their life, and critical evaluation of projects. The ODs must be implemented in the spirit in which they were written. The usual excuse of ‘lack of time’ in the project cycle, specially project preparation, to genuinely consider community needs, does not help. Unfortunately, this intelligence is used to subvert rather than fulfil.
To illustrate: The ODs regarding projects affecting indigenous people are clear. The project should be with the informed consent of the people, they should be able to manage the project after completion, and their life should be of at least of equal quality after that. In the India eco–development project, every one of these were violated. World Bank inspection panel report confirms this:
‘ xi. The Panel finds that certain key premises underlying the design phase of the Project at the Nagarahole site are flawed, as a result of which there is a significant potential for serious harm.’
True to form, no follow up action was taken. Instead, attempts were made to belittle the adivasi representations saying they were ‘undated’ as if that would in anyway lessen the violation of human rights.
Institutional arrangements for mitigation
DRIs cannot be a part of the life of the affected women permanently. The interaction is limited to certain brief moments of the project period which itself is of too short duration to transfer the life skills required in a new environment. The project period is suited for institutional convenience rather than for the development of the community. The high turnover of bank and implementing agency staff makes shorter project periods to be the preferred. The bank does not have institutional presence in project areas, and works through contractors. Therefore its ‘value added’ is only in monitoring and facilitating knowledge transfer, apart from being a moneylender.
The cultures are different for the state, bank and the project affected. For communication between the three, there needs to be a period where each learns to communicate to the other, or wait for the others to learn to communicate with it. Since the prime movers in this relationship are the bank and the state, the initiative must come from these two. There is no substitute for actually going to the field and listening to the women—not even working through NGOs based on the voluntary ethos.
The crucial part of the response will depend on the answer to the following question: Do the DRIs not know? Then inform their policy. Do the DRIs know and still not do? Then the response will be quite different—then force them to address the issue. Factor in that the DRIs are far away spatially and otherwise from the affected populations, and cannot be sued—whether it is the World Bank or any other. Therefore, to ensure DRI compliance, non–judicial processes must form part of the bouquet of responses.
Let us look at how DRIs understand the issue, as articulated by the president of the World Bank in a few of the speeches in 2002. He articulates a few honourable thoughts on attitude and policy. They are good examples of identifying issues and proposing solutions.
We have to get over the notion that the poor themselves are the object of charity. The poor themselves are, in fact, the strength of the solution. The issue for us is empowerment. The issue for us is inclusion. The issue for us is to ensure that poor people reach their potential.
The whole approach of our institution today is to try and deal within the framework that I’ve given you with the empowerment of poor people… It is to humanize our efforts. Within that framework, before we get into any programs, there are a number of things which are critical to ensure at the government level: strengthening capacity of government, training, having a legal and judicial system that works, that protects rights, human rights and property rights; a financial system that is clean; and fighting corruption.[iv]
Poor people do not want charity. People in poverty want a chance. People in poverty, the 1.2 billion under a dollar a day, and the nearly 3 billion under $2 a day, in my personal experience, are the best people you meet when you travel. They have a will. They want to be proud. They want an opportunity, and if you give them half a chance, and give them the responsibility, they do well.
The new paradigm of development is to turn poor people from the object of charity to become the asset on which you build. We have to do that if we are going to have leverage in what we’re doing, if we’re going to have scale, and if we’re going to have continuity in what we’re doing. These are not weakened people. They’re not persons with disabilities that happen to be poor. There’s much that can be done to improve the conditions in education and health and in terms of opportunity.
The first thing I think that all of us need to understand, as we come to the programs that the nations are putting together, is that we are partners with the people that live in poverty. I think that’s crucial for us as we think of this development paradigm. …
We must give support in terms of capacity building…. The issue of capacity building is really crucial.[v]
We have to start with education. It’s not just for us, it’s for our kids. One of the first things you can do to deal with the question of poverty around the world is to train your children.
These are people that want a chance. These are people that want enfranchisement. They want the opportunity. They want to live in peace. They want to know that the police are more reliable than the criminals. If they’re women, they want to know that they're not going to get beaten and that they, too, have a chance in a society where, frankly, the women do most of the work. … gender equality is a fundamental issue that one needs to deal with.[vi]
In a world shifting from a state–led to a market–driven global village, the DRIs are in an unique position to set global standards—having mandates from the governments and the market as a financial institution. By listening to the affected people, and genuinely including them in development, the DRIs can be pioneers.
Respect for human rights is the best policy—just as honesty. It is seldom—even in projects where they are the focus—that the uplift of the community on their own terms is a non–negotiable. The ‘beneficiary’ thus become hostile or apathetic—both forms of resistance. For successful and just project implementation,
· Be demonstrably on the side of the weakest even among the project affected. They should set the priorities, scope and pace of change.
· Appraise the people of the project objectives and impact. Then let them come up with their plans. Adjust the macro–plan to include the people’s plans.
· Maximise diversity to include everyone. The uniformity in the macro–plan needs to be matched by extreme diversity in the micro–plans.
· The DRIs often operates in areas where they have no institutional presence, depending on its contractors to provide institutional and implementation support. These contractors oftentimes claim to be the representatives of the people’s interest. It is best that the DRIs have direct dialogue with the affected people themselves. Where there are no people’s institutions create or promote them till they can interact knowledgably with the DRIs. Absence of relevant institutions makes for unacceptable risk in planning and failure due to alienation.
The DRIs have two types of projects: displacement [infrastructure] and investment in the community such as health and education. In both it is the patriarchal state that decides what is good for the tribal. Despite policies and good intentions, the affected themselves are seldom involved. When ‘involved’ it is a lapse into tokenism. Women seldom have space even within this tokenism. There are few women headed tribal organisations, NGOs or government servants.
· The DRIs should support community development plans, not infrastructure projects—meaning keep the community as the focus. The infrastructure should be only the secondary aspect. Keep the well being of the individual and the community as the focus.
· In the process of project identification, clearly state the criteria for rejection specially when projects affect tribal communities and women in particular. The criteria for acceptance must be as clear.
· To provide a gender sensitive programme would require life with dignity for the rest of the community. Unless that is ensured, gender sensitivity cannot be implemented.
· Relocating the entire community without consideration for even short–term impact is all that is possible within the present framework.
Gender and development
· Get the gender data before the project starts. Make the data as disaggregated as possible: sex, age and community must be the minimum acceptable.
· During the pilot phase, find out the gender roles. Ensure that the project will make it easier for the women to fulfil these gender roles, and build institutions to make gender roles more equitable.
· ‘Women’ in indigenous communities are as young as pre–teens. Ensure that they are counted as adults for the purposes of sharing adult benefits.
· Address strategic needs in the long term. Build it into the programme design and process at the outset.
· In times of change, the pressure on women increases. The programmes need to address this increase in stress levels explicitly. Since the tribal get the worst packages for rehabilitation, the tribal women suffer the most.
· Since the tribal do not have a culture of private property, and community access to common property is the norm, their resources at the family or individual levels are highly under–reported. The cost–benefit analysis should account for adequate resource base.
Gender and social assessment
· Where tribal women are the focus, sustainable interventions need to be rooted within the environment, should take into account resource mapping, activities and control over time and space.
· Take into account factors both within the community, which are gender specific and those from the rest, which may be caste and class based. Two other major interests are business and the state. Tourism is a major industry that affects tribal women.
· Life and medical insurance, grain banks, and other such social security nets and buffers need to be built into the project cost whether or not the DRIs would cover those. If the DRIs do not cover those components, then the implementing agency should mobilise the necessary resources for them prior to plan sanction, in keeping with ICESCR 11 and 12.
Gender and social safeguards
· Women’s participation at all levels, including in project identification, rejection, stakeholder analysis, social assessment and analysis, household surveys, focus group discussions, participation in implementation, monitoring and evaluation and deciding methodologies for all the above stages would be critical in making the project gender sensitive.
· The DRIs must ensure that there are about 60—80% women in all decision–making at all levels. In this representation of women, women from affected communities need to be represented as much as possible—and certainly not less than 50%. This might seem to be utopian, but it is necessary if gender equality is a pragmatic objective rather than a populist slogan. Given that the system itself is patriarchal, even with such a proportion of representation, it could still be gender insensitive.
The project objectives and components
The projects of the DRIs, especially those that affect the tribal, need to be community development projects first. The affected community must have the first and major share of the benefits of the project. All other components and benefits should be secondary.
The tribals have a skill set that is effective in a specific geographic location. Take them out of it, and they become dependant. The psycho–social effects of displacement are now well studied. What is not as clear is how to mitigate and perhaps eradicate these ill effects. Without this mitigation, the DRIs will face increasing opposition to its projects.
The projects that the DRIs finance should be long term in that they need to provide the bridge for the people to move from one culture to another with dignity. It needs to provide them a skill set appropriate for the new geographic and socio–cultural environment and provide support till they can stand on their own, in tune with UDHR 23 and 24.
Unless the DRIs are committed to this, there should be no displacement. If they do not meet contemporary standards of human rights and governance, they will be delegitimised. It is important that all projects need to be holistic, integrated community projects—though the DRIs themselves need not be funding the entire component—and meet contemporary human rights standards.
Cost benefit audits
Tangible, measurable benefits within the reward horizon of the community and the individual are necessary to retain interest. Each stage of the project should have demonstrable benefit to the tribals, and different sections among them such as women, children, elderly and disabled, at each stage to meet the standards set by UDHR 25; ICESCR 11.1, 11.2a, 11.2b. Monitor these benefits. Monitor the quantum of money, material and resources that actually reach the women. The fear expressed in DFE that
… forced evictions and homelessness intensify social conflict and inequality and almost invariably affect the poorest, most socially, economically, ecologically and politically disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society, while promoting the interests of more powerful social groups…
is all too true. The DRIs can avoid this by ensuring that the displaced get the first benefits of their displacement to fulfil standards agreed to in ICESCR 12.
The women themselves can audit and monitor these in near real–time by using the individual and group diaries of the internal learning system [ILS][vii]. These pictorial records enable illiterate women to do comparative analysis of group functioning and progress towards project goals. The profiles thus developed could form part of the baseline.
Build institutions of the project affected
The World Bank admits that the globalisation and structural adjustment policies have hurt the poor.[viii] The reality is that all change will always hurt the poor. Therefore, building institutions that can control or manage change becomes important. There will be a long lead–time in building these institutions. This lead–time needs to be built into the project. Only after these institutions are built can the benefits reach the tribal women. Otherwise others—non–tribals or tribal men—will hijack benefits.
Tribals don’t know how to dialogue or interact with the DRIs. Tribal women less so. The need to dialogue is for both sides, but it is the responsibility of the DRIs to ensure that it happens. The process by which the tribal women become able to interact with the DRIs is a long one, but necessary. All communities have communication mechanisms that allow for opinion come from the individual to the collective consciousness. These need to be strengthened. In addition, these institutions will need to have separate and common space for men and women. The common space is likely to be dominated by men. So the space organised for the women should be able to veto the decisions of the ‘common’ forum—though the same women will be in the ‘common’ forum and in the ‘women’s’ forum. We would suggest similar forums for children. These forums would need to be community wise. For instance, though the Kuruba and the Paniya live in the same area, there would need to be both Kuruba and Paniya forums, and within these forums there would need to be separate forums for women and children.
This must be done by the DRIs, prior to engagement. This phase of ‘social mobilisation’ needs to precede every project. Social mobilisation as a prerequisite for poverty eradication has been accepted by all SAARC governments in the SAARC poverty commission report, and ‘empowerment’ by none other than the president of the World Bank. Only when these institutions are strong and able to interact with the DRIs on relatively better terms, the second condition—good governance—can be fulfilled. It is in the interest of the DRIs to build institutions that are internally just and representative. If that is not done, then it is likely that there will be resistance somewhere down the project timeline. Once the trust is lost, then regaining it will be a Herculean task—and sometimes impossible.
The individual and community first address survival needs. Then they move on to self–esteem. They have an understanding of the risks they can take. Once they increase their resource base, they also increase their capacity to risk. But why should the community be put through the risk and trauma of change if their standard of living will not appreciably increase? The women anyway bear the brunt of change. If this change will not bring them a better future, why should they be put through this stress?
The World Bank states that gender inequality is a barrier to poverty alleviation. All inequality is a barrier to poverty eradication. Institutions, most often the state itself, preserve inequalities. When this inequality is addressed, then the entire institutions of society—formal and non–formal—become active opponents of the change process. Can the DRIs face such reaction? Do they really want to take on the state?
The ability of the community and its supporters to identify and address ‘issues’ is one of the key prerequisites for addressing poverty. These ‘issues’ are ones that are seemingly logical, and deeply rooted in custom and tradition. But in the new relations of production and distribution, new social ordering, relationships and values, they keep the community chained to its past and hinder its progress. What is an issue in one social construct becomes a non–issue in another and could become even oppressive. Can the project provide the mobility to disengage from the oppressive to move on to the more liberative? In the economic, it is the old feudal economy to the emerging market. This can be leveraged into making social relations more democratic. Links with the democratic institutions in nascent civil society can be utilised to enforce democratic values.
The way forward
Can the DRIs deliver?
Yes, and no. Certainly not by themselves. But they can be made to deliver. DRIs know what has to be done, but they do not want to do it. At the time of inception, the World Bank was certainly at the forefront of human consciousness regarding human development. Till recently, it could even claim that its operational directives were in harmony with the international bill of rights and other human rights standards. Not anymore.
DRIs have a rather narrow view of what constitutes displacement and work to fulfil the narrowest legal obligations, within the narrowest interpretation of the letter of the law. It deliberately does not look at the continuing historical processes but only at the project in isolation—despite the fact that the project, or non–bank funded components of it, are continuing the historical process of exclusion.
Just listing of these human rights instruments show how far the DRIs are from meeting these standards. The habit of reverting to the narrowest possible interpretation of the letter of the law is self–evident.
The World Bank recently undertook a rather elaborate [for itself] review of its operational directives [OD] to change them into operational policy [OP] and bank procedures [BP].
The Bank’s policy on Indigenous Peoples is currently being converted from OD 4.20 to OP/BP 4.10. The policy is being converted from an OD format which combines policy, procedures and good practice information into an OP/BP format that clearly distinguishes between policy and procedures.
On its website the bank states the purpose of the review:
Conversion / Revision of Safeguard Policies: The Bank’s safeguard policies were drafted between the early to late 1980s. Practice on safeguard issues has evolved considerably since then, and needs to be reflected in updated policy statements. The conversions/revisions do not alter the objectives and principles of the policies. They:
· Clarify ambiguities in the existing policy statements
· Codify current practice based on evolving standards
· Reflect recommendations of evaluations carried out by the Bank’s independent Operations Evaluation Department (OED)
There is no dilution nor tightening of safeguard policy standards as a result of the ongoing conversions of safeguard policies.
Despite all its claims of bringing its practices to meet evolving standards, on the same web–page the bank admits:
The draft OP/BP merely clarifies a long–standing interpretation of Management under the existing OD4.30—that the Bank’s policy on involuntary resettlement covers only direct impacts resulting from Bank–assisted projects and caused by land takings or restrictions of access to protected areas. The Bank’s policy on Involuntary Resettlement has never covered all adverse socio–economic impacts of Bank projects—only those directly caused by land taking and restriction of access to legally designated parks and protected areas.
In other words, it does not ‘codify current practice based on evolving standards.’ They do not even meet human rights standards set more than half a century ago.
The World Bank president uses all the right words… empowerment, inclusion, poor want/need a chance, education, capacity building. These are sometimes practiced in stray cases, and then highlighted. But those are more accidents that could not be prevented. Where it matters—specially in macro–projects which affect thousands—the bank is clearly in the wrong. Showcasing isolated accidents of good behaviour are certainly not the remedy to systemic large–scale violations of human rights.
For DRIs compliance with international standards, one method is to get in as many first, second or even third generation project affected women into positions of power within the DRIs. Since the need is immediate, there is no option but to have grassroots mobilisation and civil society solidarity. The DRIs have to be forced into compliance much as any other institution or entity has to be: by ensuring that the pain of the periphery reaches the centre. Through history, that has been the only method. Experience with the DRIs shows it to be valid even today. Just as there will always be ‘something missing’ when men plan for women, there will always be the same gap when the affected women do not control their own development.
Despite all the rhetoric of the World Bank—and the PR offensive of its president—one must not forget that fundamental differences exist. The DRIs consider the economic model as ‘a given.’ Consultations are only permitted to tinker around the edges of a model exacerbating poverty. While ‘social’ issues are discussed in the context of the bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers [PRSP] with some participation, the ‘macro’ issues are discussed in the context of Poverty Reduction and Growth Facilities [PRGF] with no participation. These differences in approach are neither accidental nor innocent.
The DRIs have the instruments and frameworks. They need the political will. But political will is created only by a countervailing political power. A power sufficient to hurt. As the American president Roosevelt said—talk softly, but carry a big stick. Any attempt at engendering resettlement and rehabilitation policies and programmes must first create the big stick for the affected women. Ironically, that requires the very empowerment process Mr James D. Wolfensohn is so enthusiastic about, but his colleagues in the displacement industry so carefully subvert.
The reality is much more sobering.
As the UDHR says, whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world… [and] disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind…’
—oO(end of document)Oo—
The relevant documents
Universal declaration of human rights
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co–operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well–being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ICESCR was adopted and opened for signature, ratification
and accession by General Assembly
resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966 and its entry into force is 3 January 1976, in accordance with article 27.
1. All peoples have the right of self–determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co–operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non–Self–Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self–determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and co–operation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant by all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures.
1. Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights or freedoms recognized herein, or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co–operation based on free consent.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co–operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:
a. To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;
b. Taking into account the problems of both food–importing and food–exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:
a. The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth–rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
b. The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
c. The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
d. The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1. All peoples have the right of self–determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co–operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
Resolution on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources
UN General Assembly resolution 1803 (XVII) adopted on 14 December 1962.
1. The right of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well–being of the people of the State concerned.
2. The exploration, development and disposition of such resources, as well as the import of the foreign capital required for these purposes, should be in conformity with the rules and conditions which the peoples and nations freely consider to be necessary or desirable with regard to the authorization, restriction or prohibition of such activities.
3. In cases where authorization is granted, the capital imported and the earnings on that capital shall be governed by the terms thereof, by the national legislation in force, and by international law. The profits derived must be shared in the proportions freely agreed upon, in each case, between the investors and the recipient State, due care being taken to ensure that there is no impairment, for any reason, of that State’s sovereignty over its natural wealth and resources.
4. Nationalization, expropriation or requisitioning shall be based on grounds or reasons of public utility, security or the national interest which are recognized as overriding purely individual or private interests, both domestic and foreign. In such cases the owner shall be paid appropriate compensation, in accordance with the rules in force in the State taking such measures in the exercise of its sovereignty and in accordance with international law. In any case where the question of compensation gives rise to a controversy, the national jurisdiction of the State taking such measures shall be exhausted. However, upon agreement by sovereign States and other parties concerned, settlement of the dispute should be made through arbitration or international adjudication.
5. The free and beneficial exercise of the sovereignty of peoples and nations over their natural resources must be furthered by the mutual respect of States based on their sovereign equality.
6. International co–operation for the economic development of developing countries, whether in the form of public or private capital investments, exchange of goods and services, technical assistance, or exchange of scientific information, shall be such as to further their independent national development and shall be based upon respect for their sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources.
7. Violation of the rights of peoples and nations to sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources is contrary to the spirit and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and hinders the development of international co–operation and the maintenance of peace.
Resolution on Forced Evictions
All policies dealing with displacement need to consider the unanimous UN resolution on Forced Evictions by the Sub–Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities on 26 August 1991.
… Governments often seek to disguise the violence that may be associated with forced evictions by using terms such as ‘cleaning the urban environment’, ‘urban renewal,’ ‘overcrowding’ and ‘progress and development,’
Disturbed that forced evictions and homelessness intensify social conflict and inequality and almost invariably affect the poorest, most socially, economically, ecologically and politically disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society, while promoting the interests of more powerful social groups,
Disturbed also that discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, and social, economic and other status is often the actual motive behind forced evictions,
Conscious that misguided development polices can result in mass forced evictions,
Aware that forced evictions can be carried out, sanctioned, demanded, proposed, initiated or tolerated by a number of actors, including, but not limited to, occupation authorities, national governments, local governments, developers, planners, landlords, property speculators and bilateral and international financial institutions and aid agencies,
Emphasizing that the ultimate responsibility for preventing evictions rests with the governments,
Concerned that eviction policies are frequently premeditated, well planned actions, often supported by legislation, …
1. Draws the attention of the Commission on Human Rights to:
b. The fact that the practice of forced eviction constitutes a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing;
c. The need for immediate measures to be undertaken at all levels aimed at eliminating the practice of forced eviction;
2. Recommends that the Commission on Human Rights encourage the governments to undertake policy and legislative measures aimed at curtailing the practice of forced eviction, including the conferral of legal security of tenure to those currently threatened with forced eviction, based upon effective consultation and negotiation with affected persons or groups;
3. Emphasizes the importance of the provision of immediate, appropriate and sufficient compensation and/or alternative accommodation, consistent with the wishes and needs of persons and communities forcibly or arbitrarily evicted, following mutually satisfactory negotiations with the affected person(s) or groups(s)
—oO(end of document annexes)Oo—
[i] Anita Cheria and Edwin; OpenSpace, India office @ openspace. org. in
[ii] Verrier Elwin; Verrier Elwin, Philanthropologist, Selected Writings; Nari Rustumji (Ed.); OUP, 1989 p 259–60.
[iii] Letter of J.L Subramani, Nagarahole Budakattu Janara Hakku Stapana Samiti, to Mr. Jim MacNeill, World Bank Inspection Panel dated 2 September 1993. For more details of the ecodevelopment project see our book: A search for justice: the Adivasi experience in south India.
[iv] Remarks at the Conference on Humanizing the Global Economy, Sponsored By The Bishops’ conferences of Canada, Latin America and The United States, Globalization, Equity, and Faith by James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group, Washington D.C., 28 January 2002.
[v] Global Development Initiative Conference, Comprehensive Strategies for Poverty Reduction—The Challenge of the 21st Century by James D. Wolfensohn at The Carter Center, Atlanta, Georgia, 21 February 2002.
[viii] William Easterly 'The effect of IMF and World Bank programmes on poverty'.