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AN ASSESSMENT OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS AND POLITICAL ADVOCACY IN CAMEROON POLITICAL SPHER

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AN ASSESSMENT OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS AND POLITICAL ADVOCACY IN CAMEROON POLITICAL SPHERE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Cameroon is one of the nations that prioritises the issue of indigenous peoples. According to research conducted by professionals at both the international and regional levels, around ten percent of the population, which is anticipated to surpass 20 million individuals, have been recognised as indigenous peoples. This identification is based on predetermined criteria. According to Njieassam (2023), the population may be categorised into two primary groups: the forest peoples, sometimes referred to as "Pygmies," and the Mbororo. The indigenous populations of Cameroon have comparable challenges, while living under distinct circumstances. The international community has implemented several texts, including legally binding ones, with the aim of safeguarding indigenous peoples (Achille, 2019). The Government of Cameroon has shown a political will to tackle the challenges encountered by indigenous populations at the national level, as evidenced by its endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Starting in 2008, the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples has been formally observed on 9 August annually. Additionally, it follows human rights mechanisms that provide observations and suggestions about indigenous matters (Nfi, 2022). 

Although there has been some progress in Cameroon and many other Central African nations, it is evident that the current situation does not align with the fundamental principles outlined in the relevant international agreements (VanDyck, 2017). The purpose of this handbook is to facilitate coordination and serve as an information and awareness-raising tool for media professionals, aiding them in their future endeavours pertaining to indigenous communities. Cameroon, a nation situated in Central Africa, is renowned for its abundant cultural variety. Within this region, there exist a multitude of indigenous groups that own distinct socio-cultural identities and historical origins (Ashukem, 2021). Throughout the years, Cameroon's political environment has undergone substantial changes, often including issues of indigenous rights and political activism. Gaining insight into the intricacies of indigenous rights and their portrayal in the political landscape of Cameroon is essential for promoting inclusive government and safeguarding the interests of minority populations. The indigenous population in Cameroon has historically encountered several obstacles pertaining to acknowledgment, land ownership, cultural preservation, and political inclusion. Throughout history, these groups have faced marginalisation and frequent exclusion from decision-making processes. Consequently, they have had challenges in asserting their rights within the wider political structure of the country (Chiatoh, 2019). In spite of the efforts undertaken by international organisations and civil society groups to advance the cause of indigenous rights, several indigenous communities in Cameroon persistently encounter instances of prejudice, socio-economic inequalities, and restricted availability of fundamental services. The Cameroon government has implemented legislative measures and policy efforts to tackle these concerns. Nevertheless, the execution of these policies has shown inconsistency, resulting in the continued marginalisation of indigenous people in practical terms. In addition, the promotion of indigenous rights in political advocacy encounters several challenges, including bureaucratic delay, resource constraints, and sometimes resistance from influential stakeholders (El Masri & Phillips, 2021). 

In light of this context, it is imperative to conduct a thorough evaluation of indigenous rights and political activism within the political landscape of Cameroon. The evaluation will include a range of factors, including as legislative structures, institutional processes, community-based mobilisation, and the involvement of indigenous leaders and organisations (Enonchong, 2020). This study aims to analyse the many obstacles and possibilities encountered by indigenous communities in Cameroon. Its primary objective is to provide valuable insights for policy deliberations, enhance the agency of marginalised groups, and make a meaningful contribution towards the promotion of inclusive governance and social justice. Therefore, the researcher sought to  assess of indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon political sphere.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Cameroon, a country characterised by its cultural diversity and the presence of several indigenous groups, encounters notable obstacles in safeguarding and advancing the rights of indigenous populations within its democratic framework. Although indigenous rights are acknowledged by constitutional provisions and international accords, there is still a visible disparity between legislative frameworks and their actual implementation, especially in terms of political advocacy for indigenous people (Fonkeng, 2019). There is a notable absence of a comprehensive legal framework in Cameroon that is expressly designed to protect and uphold the rights of indigenous peoples. Current legislation and regulations often fall short in effectively addressing the distinct socio-cultural and political requirements of indigenous populations, resulting in their marginalisation and prejudice. The governmental structures and decision-making processes of Cameroon frequently exhibit a lack of representation for indigenous populations. According to Imade (2021), the absence of adequate representation poses a significant obstacle to their capacity to successfully fight for their rights and interests inside the realm of politics, hence continuing a cycle of marginalisation and power asymmetry. Indigenous populations can face obstacles while seeking justice as a result of socio-economic circumstances, language variations, and prejudiced behaviours within the legal framework. This hinders their capacity to pursue remedies for infringements of their rights and perpetuates a perception of impunity among those responsible. The cultural legacy and customary lands of indigenous tribes in Cameroon are confronted with many challenges arising from land grabs, extractive industries, and extensive development initiatives. Indigenous areas have heightened susceptibility to exploitation and relocation due to the lack of comprehensive legal safeguards, therefore compromising their socio-economic welfare and cultural heritage. Cameroon's political sector lacks extensive knowledge and advocacy initiatives aimed at promoting indigenous rights (Jarvis, L & Legrand, 2017). The efficacy of advocacy initiatives is impeded by a lack of extensive public engagement and institutional backing, hence maintaining the marginalisation of indigenous concerns within dominant political agendas. Given the urgent nature of these problems, the objective of this study is to investigate the degree to which indigenous rights are acknowledged, safeguarded, and promoted within the political domain of Cameroon. This research seeks to provide insights into policy suggestions and grassroots efforts that attempt to promote the rights and well-being of indigenous people in Cameroon. It intends to identify gaps in policy implementation, impediments to political engagement, and opportunities for better advocacy.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to assess indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon political sphere. The specific objectives is as follows

Assess the  effectiveness of legal instruments in safeguarding indigenous rights within the political sphere.

Investigate the Problem impeding the effectiveness of indigenous rights advocacy  in Cameroon.

Evaluate government policies and programs aimed at promoting indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon

Examine the strategies employed by indigenous groups and their advocates to advance their rights within the political sphere in Cameroon.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study

How effective is the legal instruments in safeguarding indigenous rights within the political sphere?

What is the problem impeding the effectiveness of indigenous rights advocacy in Cameroon?

What are the government policies and programs aimed at promoting indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon?

What are the strategies employed by indigenous groups and their advocates to advance their rights within the political sphere in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

The findings of this research have significant implications for policy-making, advocacy interventions, and academic discourse. By providing a comprehensive analysis of indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon, the study aims to inform policymakers, civil society organizations, and indigenous communities themselves about the existing challenges and opportunities. Furthermore, it seeks to contribute to the global dialogue on indigenous rights and governance by offering insights derived from the Cameroon context. 

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  assessing indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon political sphere. Empirically, the study will assess the effectiveness of legal instruments in safeguarding indigenous rights within the political sphere, investigate the problem impeding the effectiveness of indigenous rights advocacy in Cameroon, evaluate government policies and programs aimed at promoting indigenous rights and political advocacy in Cameroon and examine the strategies employed by indigenous groups and their advocates to advance their rights within the political sphere in Cameroon.

1.7 Research Methodology

Research methodology deals with the different ways or methods the researcher applied in order to carry out the research as well as the instrument used for gathering the data. There are several research methodologies appropriate for answering the research questions. The type of research methodology used in this research to gather data and relevant information is the historical research and the study will adopt descriptive method of data collection. This will involve the collection of materials from secondary sources, such as books, journal articles, magazines, internet sources, international and national conference proceedings, published and unpublished articles.

1.8 Definition of terms

Indigenous Rights: Indigenous rights refer to the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples, often recognized in international law and treaties, which aim to protect their cultural, social, economic, and political rights. These rights typically encompass land rights, self-governance, cultural preservation, and protection from discrimination.

Political Advocacy: Political advocacy involves activities aimed at influencing government policies, decisions, and actions to address specific issues or promote particular interests. This can include lobbying, campaigning, public awareness efforts, and other forms of activism undertaken by individuals, groups, or organizations within the political sphere.

Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous peoples are distinct ethnic groups who are the original inhabitants of a particular region or territory and maintain a cultural, historical, and often spiritual connection to the land. They often face specific challenges related to land rights, cultural preservation, and political representation.

Political Sphere: The political sphere refers to the realm of government institutions, political parties, decision-making processes, and public discourse where political activities occur. This includes formal political institutions such as legislatures, executive branches, and courts, as well as informal networks, civil society organizations, and public opinion influencers involved in shaping political agendas and policies.


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