This paper explores the policy need and legal case for including social safeguards in a post-2012 agreement on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). One serious charge laid against so called 'market-based' approaches to REDD is the potential for forest dwelling communities to be dispossessed from their land and to lose other rights afforded to them in international human rights law. Rather than criticise current REDD proposals as being inherently negative for forest dwelling communities, this paper asks firstly, whether REDD can potentially work in their favour and secondly, how such an opportunity could be realised in a future REDD agreement.