The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) commemorates African Liberation Day 2007 by proposing
a legal blueprint for reclaiming Africa’s natural wealth from foreign corporations and settlers. NCBL’s newly-drafted
Model Code for the Reclamation, Protection and Preservation of African Land, Traditional Knowledge and Mineral Resources will
be published to various African political parties and journalists on May 25,
the date when many African communities around the world annually affirm a commitment to the full liberation of Africa and
the continent’s descendants.
"Model codes" are sample laws that legislative bodies use as guides when drafting
new legislation. "We don’t expect our Model Code to find its way into the laws of African countries right away, but
we do hope that it will help create for Africa a vision of how Africans can establish a legal framework for the expulsion
of foreign corporations that exploit Africa’s natural resources," said Mark P. Fancher, Chair of NCBL’s International
The Model Code focuses on: oil and mineral resources; land; and traditional knowledge. With respect to oil
and mineral wealth, the code calls for the creation of special citizens’ commissions to oversee the confiscation of
these resources from private owners and the use of revenue from these resources to benefit the public. The Code allows current
owners to have a reasonable opportunity to make the transition from private to public ownership. There are also procedures
owners to make a case for why they should be exempt from the new law. However, the burden of proving entitlement to exemption
is very heavy because foreign corporations and other private owners must demonstrate that they did not benefit directly or
indirectly from colonialism and slavery in the development and operation of their enterprises. Procedures for protecting land
are similar to those provided for oil and mineral wealth, however, confiscated land would be equitably redistributed.
Model Code is designed to protect traditional knowledge through the establishment of a national registry. The term "traditional
knowledge" often refers to scientific and medical discoveries of indigenous populations. In certain cases, such discoveries
which have not been protected by patents have been developed and marketed globally by western pharmaceutical companies and
others without royalties or other forms of compensation for the African
communities that made the discoveries, sometimes
many generations earlier. The Model Code creates a government office that would be staffed by specialists who would seek out
and catalogue all known local discoveries, and monitor commercial practices internationally to ensure that the ideas of nationals
are not exploited.
"If we can cause Africans on a mass level to begin to seriously discuss taking back Africa’s natural resources, we will be pleased," Fancher said.
mission of the National Conference of Black Lawyers is to serve as the legal arm of the movement for Black Liberation, to
protect human rights, to achieve self-determination of Africa and African communities in the diaspora and to work in coalition
to assist in ending oppression of all peoples.