In , the Endorois won the landmark case Centre for Minority Rights Development and Minority Rights Group International (on behalf of. On 23rd and 24th April , Kenya National Commission on Human Rights ( KNCHR) joined other national human rights institutions in Africa. by Rhodri C. Williams Every now and then, a judicial decision comes along that seems to snap a fuzzy area of law into crisp focus. One such.

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The Commission ruled on February 4, that the Endorois’ eviction from their traditional land for tourism development violated their human rights.

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The Kenyan government evicted the Endorois people, a traditional pastoralist community, from their homes at Lake Bogoria in central Kenya in the s, to make way for a national reserve and tourist facilities. In the first ruling of an international tribunal to find a violation of the right to development, the Commission found that this eviction, with minimal compensation, violated the Endorois’ right as an indigenous people to property, health, culture, enndorois, and natural resources.

It ordered Kenya to restore the Endorois to their historic land and to compensate them. It is the first ruling to determine who are indigenous peoples in Africa, and what are their rights to land. Lake Bogoria is considered to have great tourism potential due to its hot springs and abundant wildlife, including one of Africa’s largest populations of flamingos.

The African Commission accepted the Endorois’ evidence that they have lived there since “time immemorial” and the lake was the center of their religion and culture, with their ancestors buried nearby. After being evicted from the fertile land around the lake, the Endorois were forced to congregate on arid land, where many of their cattle died.


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After Kenyan courts refused to address their case, they brought their case to the African Commission in Violations of land rights, including the rights of the generations of Kenyans displaced through historic and recent evictions, are one of the key unresolved issues in Kenya, which former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged in the aftermath of Kenya’s electoral violence in The African Commission found that the Kenyan government has continued to rely on a colonial law that prevented certain communities from holding land outright, and allowed others, such as local authorities, effectively to own their traditional land on “trust” for these Communities.

The local authority in Lake Bogoria was able to end the Endorois trust at will and to seize the land. None of these reforms has been completed. While the adoption by the government of a new land policy in August marks a significant step forward, it still needs to be translated into effective protection on the ground for Kenya’s most marginalized.

The African Commission determined that the Endorois, having a clear historic attachment to particular land, are a distinct indigenous people, a term contested by some African governments who claimed all Africans are indigenous. It also found that the Endorois had property rights over the land they traditionally occupied and used, even though the British and Kenyan authorities had denied them a formal title.


In finding a violation of the right to development for the first time the Commission relied on the failure of the Kenyan authorities to respect the right of the Endorois to consent to development, and the failure to provide them adequate compensation for the loss they had suffered, or any benefit from the tourism.

The African Commission had ruled in against the Kenyan government for allowing a ruby mining company to start illegal mining on another part of the Endorois’ land, severely affecting their remaining access to water. Following that ruling, the mining company abandoned its activities.

The ruling spells the beginning endoois a brighter future. The Commission requires Kenya to take steps to return the Endorois land and compensate them within three months. Skip to main content. Help us continue to fight human rights abuses. Please give now to support our work.

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The African Commission “Endorois Case” – Toward a Global Doctrine of Customary Tenure?

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