Conservation Initiative on Human Rights

This collaborative initiative with a consortium of international conservation organisations was formalised in 2009 to improve conservation work by promoting the integration of human rights principles into conservation policy and practice.

2013 - ongoing
Dilys Roe

Principal researcher and team leader (biodiversity), Natural Resources

A Batwa man sits with his hands cupping his head

Batwa man evicted from Mgahinga National Park, Uganda. Some families were evicted when the park was created (Photo: copyright The Advocacy Project)

Protected areas can sometimes have a negative impact on the lives of local communities, for example through evictions and lost access to natural resources. These impacts are now under particular scrutiny. But awareness about the positive contributions that nature conservation work can have in securing people’s rights to their livelihoods and their environments is also growing.

International NGOs can play an important role in supporting and promoting conservation actions that respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, and help sustain their livelihoods.

The Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR) is a collaboration between eight international conservation organisations, which was conceived by Nick Winer – an ex-employee of Oxfam who has worked extensively with refugees and has seen at first hand the way the establishment of protected areas can lead to people being displaced from their land.

Working with Winer, IIED further developed and facilitated the process during 2008–10. The idea of working collectively to develop common principles on human rights and conservation was first discussed at a meeting of the CEOs of the eight international conservation organisations. A technical working group was set up with IIED acting as a support organisation, and by the end of 2009 the identity and configuration of the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR) had been established along with a set of operating principles: the Conservation and Human Rights Framework (PDF).

Specific objectives of the CIHR:

  1. Develop and maintain a common set of human rights principles related to conservation
  2. Identify and test management practices for implementing and complying with them
  3. Support members in implementing human rights principles and management practices, especially through shared learning among participating organizations, stakeholders and experts
  4. Promote integration of human rights principles in conservation initiatives and share relevant experience relating to approaches and impacts
  5. Report on members’ activities in putting in place management practices for the implementation and monitoring of their human rights principles.

Find out more

For more information about the CIHR, visit IUCN's Conservation Initiative on Human Rights website.

Additional resources

Conservation and human rights: the need for international standards, Dilys Roe, Gonzalo Oviedo, Luis Pabon, Michael Painter, Kent Redford, Linda Siegele, Jenny Springer, David Thomas and Kristen Walker Painemilla (2010), IIED Briefing paper