US authorities halt funding to WWF, WCS on allegations of atrocities

In the name of “conservation”, wildlife NGOs destroy the lives of indigenous tribals peoples says Survival International

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

In what is being perceived as a “blow” to the conservation industry, the US government has barely three days ago, halted more than $12 million of funding to WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other conservation NGOs following serious findings on diversion of federal funds to anti-poaching guards implicated in serious human rights abuses in Africa. “The United States must not be party to violations of basic human rights,” a bipartisan committee wrote, citing a BuzzFeed News investigation.

It has been seriously alleged that several of these organizations are behind the creation and running of Protected Areas in Africa and Asia (including the notorious Messok Dja as reported in The Guardian) that have ruined the lives of thousands of tribal and local people said a report in Survival International.

The news was revealed, says Survivors International, in a leaked government document that also enumerates s how conservation organisations such as WWF failed to inform the US government that programs it was funding were responsible for serious human rights abuses in several countries.

This exposure is a serious setback to the conservation industry and meets a long standing demand by indigenous peoples and Survival International; the leaked document announces ground-breaking rules on how projects designed to protect nature can be funded, including:

– Conservation organisations will no longer receive federal funds unless they have the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.

– The US will no longer fund eco-guards, law enforcement or “activities related to relocating communities, voluntarily or involuntarily.”

The memo, from the US Deputy Secretary of the Interior Kate MacGregor, is dated September 18, 2020 and contains numerous revelations including:

– US government funding was misused by conservation organisations for purposes prohibited under US laws. These include murder, severe torture, multiple rapes, and abuse.

– WWF and other organisations hid the knowledge of these abuses from the US authorities whose funds they were receiving.

– Conservation organisations refused to cooperate with federal investigators; withheld reports that documented the abuses; and were effectively auditing themselves.

The scope and extent of the abuses described in the report, involving a number of international conservation organisations, is illustrative of the scale of human rights violations in conservation projects and the abject failure of international funding bodies to monitor them.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director said today: “WWF and other big conservation NGOs have been well aware of their responsibility for gross human rights violations for decades. Survival first pointed them out over 30 years ago. Over the last half century I’ve personally confronted dozens of corporations and governments about their abuse of tribal peoples’ rights. None have been as duplicitous as these big conservation NGOs. These violations ultimately damage our world too. They destroy the planet’s best defenders. “Fortress conservation” must be stopped, and conservationists’ current demand to turn 30% of the Earth into Protected Areas must be rejected.”

Notes (credit” Survival International):

– This news comes days after the UN Summit on Biodiversity, where numerous heads of government supported WWF and WCS’s call to declare 30% of the Earth as Protected Areas by 2030. The revelations in the leaked report demonstrate how dangerous this would be.

– The new measures mean that the US government can no longer fund WCS-India’s project supporting the so-called “voluntary relocation” of indigenous communities. This also follows a letter from Jenu Kuruba villages threatened with eviction, calling on US authorities to stop “aiding and abetting the government and WCS’s plans to evict us from our forests,” has been sent to the US Fish and Wildlife Service more than 20 times, but is yet to receive a response.


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