Instruments and guidelines for land governance and protection from dispossession and displacement: Potential applications in the field of tourism

There are a range of laws and regulations pertaining to the operational aspects of the global tourism industry albeit with different levels of local, national and international enforcement (Swarbrooke, 1999; Mowforth and Munt, 2016). There are much fewer regulations that are related to the responsibilities of tourists (Mason, 2016). Cosmopolitan tourists enjoy a range of rights, including the right to free and unrestricted movement, the right not to be exploited by local businesses and individuals, the right to be secure while travelling, and even the right to a safe and clean environment (Swarbrooke, 1999). These rights are to be protected by host communities, government agencies and the tourism industry. Yet the high level of protection and enjoyment of these rights often stands in stark contrast to the more precarious rights of local communities and individuals that may be compromised by compulsory' land acquisition for tourism infrastructure, corporate land grabbing, enclosure of essential natural resources, and physical and economic displacement.

This chapter looks at existing frameworks and guiding principles that have the potential to strengthen land and resource rights and protect both Indigenous and non-indigenous communities from tourism-induced land grabs and displacement. While the first three sections examine international human rights law and the particular rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples, the final four sections explore the potential of voluntary guidelines, environmental and social safeguards of international financial institutions and corporate codes of conduct for controlling tourism-induced land grabbing, involuntary resettlement and planned relocation.

Tourism-related land grabs and international human rights law

Tourism is linked to a wide range of human rights. Several human rights principles as enshrined in international human rights frameworks pertain to land and other natural resources. Tourism-related land grabs directly affect these rights as presented in Box 11.1. There are also various human rights that may be indirectly impacted by tourism-related land grabbing. Forced eviction and involuntary resettlement, for instance, often have adverse effects on health and self-determination, affect the right to non-interference with privacy,

Instruments and guidelines 201 family and home, and may expose evicted or resettled people to economic and sexual exploitation after the relocation.

Box 11.1 Key human rights principles and issues in tourism

Directly related to land and other natural resources:

  • • The right to own property, including land
  • • The right to adequate housing
  • • The right to protection from forced displacement
  • • The right to food
  • • The right to water and sanitation
  • • The rights of indigenous peoples

Indirectly related to land and other natural resources:

  • • The right to life and health
  • • The right to dignity and privacy
  • • The right to protection from economic and cultural exploitation
  • • The right to participation and self-determination
  • • The right to be protected from child labour and sexual exploitation

Sources: OHCHR, 1997; Tourism Concern, 2014;

Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism, 2016

A major gap in international human rights law remain the rights of future generations. These are impacted when land is permanently removed from customary, legitimate right-holders and even in land lease arrangements that may extend to 99 years in some locations, thereby compromising the rights of three to four generations.

The right to property, adequate housing and protection from displacement

The right to property has remained somewhat controversial among international human rights lawyers. Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) holds that ‘no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property’ and Article 25(1) of the UDHR guarantees the right to housing and prohibits forced evictions. Both articles can be interpreted as an international and legally binding recognition that land grabbing, including for tourism purposes, is a violation of these basic human rights. The UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (UNGPID) build on these human rights principles and maintain that the prohibition of arbitrary displacement includes “large-scale development projects, which are not justified by compelling and overriding public interests” (Principle 6.2.c). They further hold that “prior to any decision requiring the displacement of persons, the authorities concerned shallensure that all feasible alternatives are explored in order to avoid displacement altogether” (Principle 7.1). The UNGPID also make provisions for “full information on the reasons and procedures for [people’s] displacement” and call for “the free and informed consent of those to be displaced” (Principle 7.3.b/c). They also urge authorities to “involve those affected, particularly women, in the planning and management of their relocation” (Principle 7.3.d). Principle 9 is particularly pertinent for tourism- and conservation-related displacement as it recognises the particular obligation of states “to protect against the displacement of indigenous peoples, minorities, peasants, pastoralists and other groups with a special dependency on and attachment to their lands” (Principle 9). Remarkably, the UNGPID also provide for internally displaced persons’ “right of access to the grave sites of their deceased relatives” (Principle 16.4), which is a right that has often been ignored in tourism- and conservation-related evictions and resettlements. Two problems arise in the application of UNGPID to the tourism sector: first, the principles - while directly drawing on international human rights law — are not legally binding, and, second, tourism tends to feature less prominently in the international debate on the rights of ‘internally displaced people’ than traditional extractive industries or war and conflict.

Right to food, water and sanitation

The right to food is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which explicitly recognises ‘the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger’ (Art. 11(2)). The ICESCR obligates states to take appropriate measures, either in their individual capacity or through international partnerships, to address all forms of food insecurity (Dhanarajan, 2015). In many of the case studies presented in Chapters 3—9 it has become evident that most tourism-related land grabs had immediate and adverse impacts on the food security (and the food sovereignty) of evicted and resettled people. Yet, the advocates of tourism development often argue that food insecurity will only be transitional and that tourism projects, conservation zones or major infrastructure projects (like airports or railways) provide future income opportunities for displaced communities. Unfortunately, several of the case studies presented in this report and many other studies have shown that such hopes and promises have rarely materialised for the direct victims of development-induced displacement (cf. Price, 2015).

The human right to water and sanitation as a prerequisite for leading a life in human dignity and for the realisation of various other human rights has been explicitly recognised through the legally binding UN Resolution 64/292 (28 July 2010). In the context of tourism-related land grabbing, violations of this fundamental human right may stem from: (1) diversion of freshwater supplies to tourism businesses at the expense of providing drinking and irrigation water to communities and other stakeholders, such as small-scale farmers,

Instruments and guidelines 203 fisherfolks or pastoralists; (2) contamination of freshwater sources through pesticides, e.g. from golf courses; and (3) evictions of communities from areas with adequate water supply. Several examples of how the human right to water has been disrespected by various stakeholders in the tourism sector’s supply chain have been discussed in the previous chapters. In the future, it will be an important task of human rights advocates and international human rights lawyers to acknowledge and raise awareness that the tourism sector is not only an extractive industry with an enormous water footprint, but that many tourism stakeholders are also actively engaged in grabbing water resources at the expense of local communities’ enjoyment of this fundamental human right.

If governments take their human rights obligations under international legal frameworks seriously, they need to implement their fundamental duty to protect the rights of their citizens to land, property, housing and access to water and sanitation for essential livelihood needs. This includes protection against infringements by tourism businesses, tourism infrastructure and tourism zoning.

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