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African Union - Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus/New York (SRDC/NY)

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BLACK LAWYERS
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http://www.ncbl.org/

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BLACK LAWYERS PROPOSES NEW LAW FOR AFRICANS TO RECLAIM AFRICA’S NATURAL WEALTH

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 Section.

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
for 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.

The 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.

The 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.

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