A Long Walk to Victory for the Endorois

Regions: Africa, Kenya

Issues: Indigenous peoples, Internally displaced persons

Tags: African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Union, Endorois, indigenous peoples, kenya, Law

We all share the desire to create a just world. At WITNESS, we share your passion to right the wrongs and to support those fighting for their rights. However, as our campaigns are aimed at creating systemic change, human rights impact can require patience, persistence, and a long view of a better world.

And then there are the sweet moments where all that hard work, partnership, and passion results in a clear, undeniable and momentous victory that affects thousands of people. This is just such a moment and we want to share it with you.

As my colleague Bukeni explains in more detail in his blog post, the Endorois, a pastoralist group, were evicted from their ancestral lands close to Lake Bogoria in Kenya to make room for a wildlife reserve and a tourist destination. They have fought for nearly four decades to receive restitution and compensation for this wrong, first in Kenya, and then, since 2003, with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In May 2009, the Commission finally reached a decision, that the Kenyan government had illegally evicted the Endorois from their lands. But it wasn’t until a week ago, on February 4th, when the African Union’s General Assembly adopted and endorsed that decision, and the AU’s President signed it, that the Kenyan government became legally bound to compensate the Endorois, and to restitute their lands. This now provides minorities across Africa with new hope that their struggles will be recognized, their lands might be returned, and their rights respected and upheld.

We are simply overjoyed by this success - and honored to share it with the Endorois and CEMIRIDE - as well as fellow campaign partners Minority Rights Group International. Take a moment to watch the Endorois story, a video that we will now gladly edit to include a new ending.

I want to thank all of you who read our Blog and who partner with us and support us, for your patience, for your partnership, without which these victories are not possible. As we go to the second phase of our campaign with RAU in Zimbabwe to stop violence against women, and WITNESS is embarking on new partnerships and campaigns, I am energized and encouraged by this success.

Visit the Hub to see the full video and read more about the case.

Yvette J. Alberdingk Thijm
Executive Director