Tanzanian scholar to walk away with environmental rights award
Backing marginalised and indigenous groups earns him the prize
THURSDAY March 3, 2022
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
A Tanzanian environmental law don, Dr Elifuraha Laltaika, has been nominated for a prestigious global environmental rights award, becoming the first African scholar to receive such a prize, thus raising the continent’s profile high.
Dr Laltaika, a Senior Lecturer of Human Rights Law and Policy at Tumaini University Makumira in northern Tanzania’s safari capital of Arusha, would be recognised for his outstanding impact in law, while painstakingly working to support local communities, particularly marginalised and indigenous groups.
The Svitlana Kravchenko Environmental Rights Award is given to a scholar from anywhere in the world with “exquisite qualities of both head and heart, mixing academic rigour with spirited activism, and speaking truth to power, while exhibiting kindness towards all”.
It is named after a Ukrainian law Professor who became a citizen of America and the entire world, and it aims at recognising distinguished individuals who exemplify the ideals and works of Professor Kravchenko who passed away in 2012.
She enormously impacted the world but left “unfinished work” that needs continuity. Through their work, award recipients insist: “Environmental rights and human rights are indivisible.”
The award winner is selected by the co-directors of Land, Air and Water after nomination by and in consultation with the staff of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), and Professor John Bonine, the professional partner and husband to the late Professor Kravchenko.
The University of Oregon Environmental and Natural Resources Programme students award the prize during the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) considered the largest environmental gathering in the world.
This year, the conference is in its 40th annual session and it will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the conference programme posted in the official website, this year’s awardee is Dr Laltaika. The award goes to a person who “makes broad impacts in the law, while working to support local communities”.
So far there have been only seven recipients since it was issued for the first time in 2012.
Ukrainian law Professor whose dedication to scholarly research resulted in authorship of 12 books, as well as 190 articles and book chapters. PHOTO | UONEWS
It aims to emphasize that environmental conservation should go hand in hand with respect for human rights.
It also stresses that local communities and indigenous peoples have the rights to access and use their natural resources, hence rewards exemplary individuals worldwide who typifies that balance in their work.
Apart from being a Senior Lecturer, Dr Laltaika is the director of research and consultancy at Tumaini University Makumira. He teaches Natural Resources Law, Human Rights Law, International law and Jurisprudence/Philosophy of Law.
While at Harvard Law School, Dr Laltaika examined indigenous peoples and local communities’ rights in extractive industries under international and comparative law.
He has consistently combined activism with academic work. In 2016, the president of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations appointed him to serve as a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Prior to that, he worked as a senior fellow at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
At the local level, Dr Laltaika has been at the forefront as a defender of local communities’ rural livelihoods. A public interest lawyer, he has trained high court judges, and practicing lawyers on local communities’ natural resources rights, and serves in boards of several non-for-profit organisations.
While working with PINGOs Forum and other organisations, he spent several months among the Barbaig, the Akie and the Hadza communities to understand their unique vulnerabilities.
Recently, the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa engaged Dr Laltaika in proposing innovative legal solutions for protecting hunter-gatherer communal land rights in AfricaΩ