Pastoralists are agriculturalists who keep domesticated livestock on natural pastures and depend upon their animals as their primary source of income. Supplementary sources of income include agriculture, trade, and handicraft production and, increasingly, salaried income, remittances, and pensions. While virtually all pastoralists exchange livestock products for grain and processed food, pastoral households also provision themselves by directly consuming the milk and meat output of their herds. Pastoralists are considered one of the most vulnerable human groups in the world. This situation is due to the difficulties they face for the use of their grazing lands and the nomadic character of their way of life. This has also been recognized by the Human Rights Committee. With various human rights instruments, they are engaged in procedures to apply the human rights to the specific case of pastoral people and to protect their right to maintain their own cultures and the right to use their grazing lands.
Protection of pastoralists rights by the international framework for human rights
Pastoralists enjoy certain specific rights and the international framework of human rights sets two different levels of protection: the rights of all minorities and the rights of indigenous peoples. In order to be able to enjoy these rights, pastoralist groups should be culturally different from the rest of the national population, as the Human Rights Committee has stated. Particularly relevant for nomadic peoples is the right to maintain their own cultures and the right to use their grazing lands. They should be added to the provisions recognized to minorities and indigenous peoples.
The international jurisprudence on minorities is based mostly on the right to maintain their own cultures, including their own means of subsistence. This is mainly pursued by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. Several nomadic peoples, especially in the African continent, are also considered indigenous peoples. Even though it is not possible to adopt a universal definition of indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples usually share common characteristics. A wide range of rights to indigenous peoples is recognized by one main international instruments: the Declaration on the right of Indigenous Peoples