Maya Leaders Alliance 

Country  Belize 
   
Beneficiaries                  Maya communities 
   
Project Description  This coalition of Maya organizations and leaders collectively work to promote the long-term wellbeing of the Maya people and to defend collective rights to their territories. The alliance achieved a landmark legal victory in 2015, which affirmed that the 39 Q’eqchi and Mopan Maya indigenous communities of southern Belize have rights to the lands that they have historically used and occupied. This historic legal affirmation – which states that traditional land rights constitute property, equal in legitimacy to any other form of property under Belizean law – is the first indigenous peoples land rights victory in the Caribbean region. In addition to providing mobilization, outreach, advocacy, and legal support on customary land rights, the Maya Leaders Alliance is active in sustainable forest management and environmental conservation efforts. Village funds are used to improve services in education, health, and infrastructure for Mayans living across 39 villages.
   
Scope of Legal Assistance  Sidley is assisting with three different projects, which include reviewing contracts, intellectual property matters, and the development of an organic product line for the domestic and international markets. 
   
Sidley Team   Niel Horner, Sarah Preisler, Alisha Patterson, Noeli Serna, Monica Kim, Deepak Raju, Jan Yves Remy
   
   Photo Credit: Tony Rath