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Accepted Paper:

Biocultural Community Protocols, Land Tenure and Biocultural Heritage: The Case of Madagascar  


Manohisoa Rakotondrabe (Université de Grenoble Alpes)
Fabien Girard (Université Grenoble Alpes)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals with the political potential of the recent recognition of BCPs on land tenure for local communities in Madagascar. We examine to what extent BCPs offer a suitable space for communities to assert their right to self-determination and their rights to their territories.

Paper long abstract:

Inherited from colonial times, land tenure policy in Madagascar is responsible for a profound land insecurity: customary rights over ancestral lands are not recognised; and local communities are generally unable to meet the legal requirements for land titling and end up being deprived of their lands by local notables.

On the bright side, recent domestic texts, adopted within the framework of the Mutually supportive implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and Plant Treaty, offer a growing recognition of the rights of local communities and even recognise biocultural community protocols (BCPs), understood as a broad array of expressions, rules and practices generated by communities to set out how they expect other stakeholders to engage with them and embedding their worldviews and their understanding of their bio-cultural heritage.

We posit that BCPs hold out hope that local communities may assert both their right to internal self-determination and their rights to their territories, lands, resources, traditional knowledge and culture. However, comparative analysis of the BCPs developed within two Malagasy pilot communities (Analavory & Mariarano) with other BCPs implemented in Benin and Kenya show the idiosyncrasy of the Malagasy case that deserves to be questioned: the absence of any explicit reference to rights over lands and veiled allusions to rights over cultural heritage and normative autonomy. The article attempts to understand this singularity by questioning, based on extensive ethnographic work, the political potential of such BCPs, which seem to gloss over the key issues of biocultural heritage and land rights.

Panel B15
Indigenous peoples, territory and politics