Categories Benin, Blog, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, World

African custodians call for recognition and protection of sacred natural sites and customary governance

First published on 02/29/2016, and last updated on 03/29/2018

Indigenous custodians from Benin, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia have released a powerful statement outlining the importance of sacred natural sites and governance systems. It forms the heart of a new report that builds the case for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to do its part.

The report, authored by The Gaia Foundation, African Biodiversity Network and the human rights lawyer Roger Chennels, draws attention to the way sacred natural sites and their community custodians have been systematically undermined and the sacred sites violated ever since the colonial era. Despite the official decolonization of Africa, this persecution continues today, say the authors, who have extensively documented the renewed scramble for Africa’s land, mineral, metal and fossil fuel wealth along with its impact on indigenous territories. Both the custodians and the report’s authors are now urging the African Commission to invoke the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (African Charter), to protect sacred sites, governance systems and custodians in a ‘decisive policy and legislative response’ to these threats.

Read the executive summary or access the full report here

Accompanying the statement and report, a new film, Revival, charts the successes of African communities who have chosen to revive their traditional cultures, beliefs and governance systems to successfully protect their territories and sacred natural sites. Featuring interviews with sacred site custodians, the film explores why these special, spiritually and ecologically potent places should be No Go Areas for mining and other destructive ‘development’.   Watch the film here.

If you have any questions, please contact Tom Brenan (, Hal Rhoades ( or Karen Nekesa (