News & Analysis
Indigenous Knowledge as a Tool for Promoting Inclusive Growth and Development
By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publication of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*
The term “indigenous knowledge” may generally refer to how members of a community perceive and understand their environment and resources, particularly the way they convert those resources through labour. Indigenous groups offer alternative knowledge and perspectives based on their own locally developed practices of resource use. In general, all traditional knowledge and resources are considered to be collective heritage of a community or ethnic group, even if the accumulation of knowledge is individual, because they are ancestral heritage, and are believed to come from God. Thus, Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge that is unique to a culture or society. Indigenous knowledge is seen as the social capital of the poor since it is their main asset to invest in the struggle for survival, to produce food, to provide for shelter and to achieve control of their own lives. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has several goals that seek to incorporate the knowledge vested in indigenous people in order to achieve its main agenda.
Indigenous Knowledge is acknowledged by many to be a potent tool for promoting inclusive growth and development. However, most developing countries like Kenya have had a history of environmental injustice, where the colonialists used the law to appropriate all land and land-based resources from Africans and to vest them in the colonial masters. In addition, the law gave the colonial authorities powers to appropriate land held by indigenous people and allocate it to the settlers. The colonial authorities were, therefore, able to grant land rights to settlers in the highlands, while Africans were being driven and restricted to the native reserves. In the natives’ reserves, there was overcrowding, soil erosion, and poor sanitation, amongst many other problems.
The loss of control rights over natural resources also affected other resources including forests and water. The focus of forests management in reserved forests was production and protection and included collection of revenues, supervisory permits and licences, protection against illegal entry and use, reforestation and afforestation, research and extension. Further, outside reserved forests, the focus by the government authorities was regulation and control of forest resources utilization through legislation without considering the interests of the local communities or the existing traditional management systems. Thus, the colonial government effectively transferred the management of forests from the local communities to the government through exclusionist and protectionist legal frameworks, a move that was inherited by the independent governments of Kenya.
It was only in the 1990s that there emerged a paradigm shift towards community-based forests management, although this was done with minimal commitment from the stakeholders. Arguably, this has been with little success due to the bureaucracy involved in requiring communities to apply for complicated licences and permits in order to participate in the same. Similarly, in relation to water resources, legal frameworks were enacted chief among which, was the Water Ordinance of 1929, vesting water resources on the Crown. This denied local communities the universal water rights that they had enjoyed in the pre-colonial period.
It is noteworthy, that the problem of environmental injustice in Kenya has in fact continued into independent Kenya and often with ugly results, as has been documented in various Government reports. Environmental injustice continues to manifest itself in modern times. The recent conflicts such as those in Lamu County and in the pastoral counties are largely attributable to environmental injustices inflicted over the years. In some area, there are feelings that land and other land-based resources were taken away from local communities, creating a feeling of disinheritance. In other areas, there are conflicts over access to resources such as forests among forest communities for livelihood, while in others conflicts emerge due to competition over scarce natural resources and competing land uses.
Economically, forests provide timber which is an important source of revenue and a major foreign exchange earner. Forests also serve as habitats and a source of livelihoods for indigenous peoples and forest dwellers. The Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG) Ministerial Declaration of 2003 recognized the role of forests in its preamble noting that Africa’s forest eco-systems are essential for the livelihoods of the African people; especially the poor and that forests play important social, economic and environmental functions. Notably, while the laws acknowledge the existence of indigenous forests, the command and control approach to natural resource management and the associated sustainability and conservation measures do not differentiate indigenous forests from other types of forests in reality.
All indigenous forests and woodlands are to be managed on a sustainable basis for purposes of water, soil and biodiversity conservation; riverine and shoreline protection; cultural use and heritage; recreation and tourism; sustainable production of wood and non-wood products; carbon sequestration and other environmental services; education and research purposes; and as habitats for wildlife in terrestrial forests and fisheries in mangrove forests. As a result, the law requires the Kenya Forest Service to consult with the forest conservation committee for the area where the indigenous forest is situated in preparing a forest management plan.
Further, the Forests Board may enter into a joint management agreement for the management of any state indigenous forest or part thereof with any person, institution, government agency or forest association. While such arrangements are important in promoting environmental justice since communities get to participate in management of indigenous forests, there is little evidence of active involvement of these communities. If anything, they have been suffering eviction from the indigenous forests. It has been argued that many, if not all of the planet’s environmental problems and certainly its entire social and economic problems, have cultural activity and decisions – people and human actions – at their roots.
As such, solutions are likely to be also culturally-based, and the existing models of sustainable development forged from economic or environmental concern are unlikely to be successful without cultural considerations. Culture in this context, has been defined as: the general process of intellectual, spiritual or aesthetic development; culture as a particular way of life, whether of people, period or group; and culture as works and intellectual artistic activity. The generation, adaptation and use of indigenous knowledge are greatly influenced by the culture. It has rightly been observed that despite the indigenous populations having suffered from invasion and oppression, and oftentimes they have seen their knowledge eclipsed by western knowledge, imposed on them through western institutions, indigenous populations have managed to survive for centuries adapting in many different ways to adverse climate conditions and managing to create sustainable livelihood systems.
Indeed, their diverse forms of knowledge, deeply rooted in their relationships with the environment as well as in cultural cohesion, have allowed many of these communities to maintain a sustainable use and management of natural resources, to protect their environment and to enhance their resilience; their ability to observe, adapt and mitigate has helped many indigenous communities face new and complex circumstances that have often severely impacted their way of living and their territories. It is therefore worth including indigenous knowledge and culture in any plans, programmes and policies aimed at realization of sustainable development agenda.
*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya): Muigua, K., Revisiting the Place of Indigenous Knowledge in the Sustainable Development Agenda, Available at: http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Revisiting-the-Place-of-Indigenous-Knowledge-in-the-Sustainable-Development-Agenda-Kariuki-Muigua-September-2020.pdf. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is Kenya’s foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2021.
Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG), Ministerial Conference 13-16 October, 2003; Ministerial Declaration, Yaoundé, Cameroon, October 16, 2003.
Amnesty Kenya, ‘Kenya: Indigenous Peoples Targeted as Forced Evictions Continue despite Government Promises’ https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/08/kenya-indigenous-peoples-targeted-as-forced-evictions-continue-despite-government-promises/ (accessed 16 July 2020).
Berger, R., ‘Conflict over Natural Resources among Pastoralists in Northern Kenya: A Look at Recent Initiatives in Conflict Resolution’ (2003) 15 Journal of International Development 245.
Berkes, F., et. al., ‘Rediscovery of Traditional Ecological Knowledge as Adaptive Management,’ Ecological Applications, Vol. 10, No. 5., October 2000, pp. 1251-1262.
Breidlid, A., ‘Culture, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Sustainable Development: A Critical View of Education in an African Context’ (2009) 29 International Journal of Educational Development 140.
Castro, A.P. & Ettenger, K., ‘Indigenous Knowledge and Conflict Management: Exploring Local Perspectives and Mechanisms For Dealing With Community Forestry Disputes,’ Paper Prepared for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Community Forestry Unit, for the Global Electronic Conference on “Addressing Natural Resource Conflicts Through Community Forestry,” (FAO, January-April 1996). Available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac696e/ac696e09.htm [Accessed on 14/7/2020].
Dessein, J. et al (ed), ‘Culture in, for and as Sustainable Development: Conclusions from the COST Action IS1007 Investigating Cultural Sustainability,’ (University of Jyväskylä, Finland, 2015), p. 14. Available at http://www.culturalsustainability.eu/conclusions.pdf [Accessed on 17/7/2020].
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Human Rights Watch, “They Just Want to Silence Us” (17 December 2018) https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/12/17/they-just-want-silence-us/abuses-against-environmental-activists-kenyas-coast (Accessed 17 July 2020).
Isaka Wainaina and Anor v Murito wa Indagara and others, [1922-23] 9 E.A.L.R. 102.
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Kigenyi, et al, ‘Practice Before Policy: An Analysis of Policy and Institutional Changes Enabling Community Involvement in Forest Management in Eastern and Southern Africa,’ Issue 10 of Forest and social perspectives in conservation, (IUCN, 2002), p. 9.
Klopp, J.M. and Sang, J.K., ‘Maps, Power, and the Destruction of the Mau Forest in Kenya’ (2011) 12 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 125;
Kriegler and Waki Reports on 2007 Elections, 2009, (Government Printer, Nairobi).
Mogaka, H., ‘Economic Aspects of Community Involvement in Sustainable Forest Management in Eastern and Southern Africa,’ Issue 8 of Forest and social perspectives in conservation, IUCN, 2001. p.74.
Ogendo, HWO, Tenants of the Crown: Evolution of Agrarian Law & Institutions in Kenya, (ACTS Press, Nairobi, 1991), p.54.
Relief Web, ‘Families Torn Apart: Forced Eviction of Indigenous People in Embobut Forest, Kenya – Kenya’ (ReliefWeb) https://reliefweb.int/report/kenya/families-torn-apart-forced-eviction-indigenous-people-embobut-forest-kenya-0 (accessed 16 July 2020).
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Swiderska, K., et. al., ‘Protecting Community Rights over Traditional Knowledge: Implications of Customary Laws and Practices,’ Interim Report (2005-2006), November 2006, p. 13. Available at http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G01253.pdf [Accessed on 14/7/2020].
SGJN Senanayake, ‘Indigenous Knowledge as a Key to Sustainable Development’ (2006) 2 Journal of Agricultural Sciences–Sri Lanka accessed 16 July 2020. 5 Ibid. 6 United Nations General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Resolution adopted by the
Urmilla, B., and Salomé Bronkhorst, ‘Environmental Conflicts: Key Issues and Management Implications’ (2010) 10 African Journal on Conflict Resolution.
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News & Analysis
Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal
Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.
Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.
In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.
He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.
“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.
Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.
Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.
He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.
“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.
Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.
He wants further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.
Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.
He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.
He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.
He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands. He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.
Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.
“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.
He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.
News & Analysis
Court of Appeal Upholds Eviction of Radcliffes from Karen Land
The Court of Appeal has stayed the decision of the Environment and Land Court purporting to reinstate Adrian Radcliffe into possession of the 5.7 Acre Karen Land by Kena Properties Ltd after eviction by the lawful owners in February 2022. Adrian Radcliffe who was evicted by Kena Properties Ltd, the innocent purchaser of the Land for value.
Before his eviction, Mr. Radcliffe had been living on the land as a squatter expatriate for 33 years without paying any rent. Since he moved into the property as a tenant, he only paid deposit for the land in August 1989 despite corresponding severally with the owner of the land. His attempt to acquire the land by adverse possession claim filed in 2005 was dismissed by Court in 2011 on the basis that he has engaged with the owner of the land July 1997 and agreed to buy the land which he failed to do. The High Court [Justice Kalpana Rawal as she then was] concluded that:
“His [Mr. Adrian Radcliffe] averments that he did not have any idea of the whereabouts of the Defendant and that he could possibly be not alive, were not only very sad but mala fide in view of the correspondence on record addressed by him to the Defendant’s wife. I would thus find that the averments made by him to the contrary are untrue looking to the facts of this case.”
On 10th March 2022, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe and Family purported to obtain court orders for reinstatement into the land. However, the Court of Appeal issued an interim stay of execution of the said orders. The Court of Appeal has now granted the application of Kena Properties Ltd and stayed the execution of the Environment and Land Court Order pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.
The Court also stayed the proceedings at the Environment and Land Court on the matter during the pendency of the Appeal. In effect, the eviction orders issued by the Chief Magistrate Court for eviction of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe in favour of Kena Properties as the purchaser of the property for value were upheld and the company now enjoys unfettered ownership and possession of the suit property until the conclusion of the Appeal.
The Court of Appeal in granting the orders sought by Kena Properties Ltd concurred with Kena Properties Ltd that as the property owner it had an arguable appeal with a high probability of success which would be rendered nugatory if Adrian Radcliffe a trespasser was to resume his unlawful possession of the suit property, erect structures thereon, recklessly use or abuse the said suit property as he deems fit. In any case, that is bound to fundamentally alter the state of the suit property and render it unusable by Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner.
At the same time, the Appellate Court rubbished the argument of Adrian Radcliffe in opposition to the application for stay that he has been in occupation of the suit property for more than 30 years and that he and his family were unlawfully evicted from the suit property on 4th February, 2022. The Court also rejected Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties Ltd has no valid title to the suit property and held that as the purchaser, the company was entitled to enjoy ownership and possession of their property during the pendency of the appeal.
The Court dismissed claims of Mr. Adrian Radcliffe that Kena Properties Ltd as the property owner acquired title to the suit property illegally and unprocedurally finding to the contrary. Further, it rejected Adrian Radcliffe’s claim that Kena Properties as the purchaser cannot evict a legal occupier of a property putting paid to the claim that he was a legal occupier at the time of eviction.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Adrian Radcliffe cannot claim to be the legal occupier of the property having attempted to acquire it by adverse possession before the High Court thwarted his fraudulent scheme on 28th February 2011. Mr. Radcliffe did not appeal the 2011 High Court decision meaning it is still the law that he is not the owner of the land nor the legal occupier of the land having attempted to adversely acquire against the interests of the lawful owner who sold it to Kena Properties.
Mr. Adrian Radcliffe is a well-to-do Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) UNICEF consultant and former UN employee (who has been earning hefty House Allowance). Many have wondered why he has been defaulting in paying rent for 33 years on the prime plot of land in Karen while living large and taking his kids to most expensive schools in Kenya. No question, a local Kenyan could never have gotten away with such selfish impunity.
News & Analysis
Review: Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 9, No. 1
The Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development, Volume 9, Issue No. 1, which is edited by and published by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD is out and stays true to the reputation of the journal in providing a platform for scholarly debate on thematic areas in the fields of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development. The current issue published in September 2022 covers diverse topics including Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in Africa; National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya; Protection of Cultural Heritage During War; The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya; Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya; Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation; Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World; Status of Participation of Women in Mediation; Business of Climate Change and Critical Analysis of World Trade Organization’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment.
Dr. Wilfred A. Mutubwa and Eunice Njeri Ng’ang’a in “Resolving Oil and Gas Disputes in an Integrating Africa: An Appraisal of the Role of Regional Arbitration Centres” explore the nature of disputes in the realm of oil and gas in Africa taking a look into the recent continental and sub-regional developments in a bid to establish regional integration. Additionally, it tests the limits of intra-African trade and dispute resolution and the imperatives for the African regional courts and arbitration centres. In “National Environment Tribunal, Sustainable Development and Access to Justice in Kenya,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua discusses the role played by the National Environment Tribunal (NET) in promoting access to justice and enhancing the principles of sustainable development in Kenya. The paper also highlights challenges facing the tribunal and proposes recommendations towards enhancing the effectiveness of the tribunal.
Dr. Kenneth Wyne Mutuma in “Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of War: A Case for History,” argues that cultural heritage is at the heart of human existence and its preservation even in times of war is sacrosanct. It concludes that it is thus critical for states to take positive and tangible steps to ensure environmental conservation and protection during war within the ambit of the existing international legal framework. In “The Role of Water in the attainment of Sustainable Development in Kenya,” Jack Shivugu critically evaluates the role of water in the attainment of sustainable development in Kenya and argues water plays a critical role in the attainment of the sustainable development goals both in Kenya and at the global stage. The paper interrogates some of the water and Sustainable Development concerns in Kenya including water pollution, water scarcity and climate change and suggests practical ways to enhance the role of water in the Sustainable Development agenda.
Dr. Paul Ogendi in “Collective Property Rights in Human Biological Materials in Kenya,” reflects on property rights in relation to human biological materials obtained from research participants participating in genomic research. He argues that property rights are crucial in genomic research because they can help avoid exploitation or abuse of such precious material by researchers. In “Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation,” Dr. Kariuki Muigua notes that Wetlands have a vital role in not just delivering ecological services to meet human needs, but also in biodiversity conservation. Wetlands are vital habitat sites for many species and a source of water, both of which contribute to biodiversity protection. The paper examines the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and how these wetland resources might be managed to improve biodiversity conservation.
Oseko Louis D. Obure in “Investor-State Dispute Resolution in a Fast-Paced World,” preponderance of disputes between States or States and Investors created need for a robust, effective, and efficient mechanisms not only for the resolution of these disputes but also their prevention. He notes that developing states lead in being parties to Investor-State Disputes (ISD) particularly as respondents. He proceeds to conceptualize and problematize investor-state disputes resolution in a fast-paced world. Lilian N.S. Kong’ani and Dr. Kariuki Muigua in “Status of Participation of Women in Mediation: A case Study of Development Project Conflict in Olkaria IV, Kenya” review the status of participation of women in mediation to resolve conflicts between KenGen and the community. The paper demonstrates a need for further democratization of the mediation processes to cater for more participation of women to enhance the mediation results and offer more sustainable resolutions.
Felix Otieno Odhiambo and Melinda Lorenda Mueni in “The Business of Climate Change: An Analysis of Carbon Trading in Kenya analyses the business of carbon trading in the context of Kenya’s legal framework. The article examines the legal framework that underpins climate change into the Kenyan legal system and provides an exposition of the concept of carbon trading and its various forms. Michael Okello, in “Critical Analysis of World Trade Organisation’s Most-Favored Nation (MFN) Treatment: Prospects, Challenges and Emerging Trends in the 21st Century,” highlights the rationale behind MFN treatment and also restates the vision of multilateral trade to achieve equitable and special interventions with respect to trade in goods, services and trade related intellectual property rights in the affected states.
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