Latest News (179)
AIWN focal points take stock of their potentials towards sustaining actions for indigenous women empowerment29 April 2019, 7:44 am Written by Maribeth Bugtong
Nine focal points of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (AIWN) have gathered in Baguio City, Philippines last April 2-7 for a strategic coordination meeting and training.
The meeting was called to review the results of the Fourth AIWN Conference last 2018 and to define and unite on actions and strategies for AIWN for the next three years while banking on the conference declaration and looking forward to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Beijing Platform of Action (BfPA).
The meeting also introduced the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as the financial entity of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The focal points were also taught how to maximize social media for visibility of indigenous women in broadening their advocacy reach.
The current United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNSRRIP) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz who is also the convenor of the AIWN stressed in her keynote address that the measure of indigenous women’s success is how they have succeeded in empowering their communities especially the indigenous women.
“We assert our right to self-determination to pursue our economic, social and cultural development,” she said, while emphasizing that strengthening their communities is where the power comes from and that AIWN has many works to do.
Describing the situation of the indigenous women, Tauli-Corpuz said that the indigenous women are highly discriminated, being trafficked, indigenous women human rights workers criminalized among others.
The UNSRRIP also stressed that indigenous women can develop and strengthen their communities creating possibilities on their own and should continue asserting their rights to governance, cultural integrity and diversity. She encouraged the focal points to look at the SDGs and determine what activities to be undertaken including submission of consolidated assessment report on the SDGs and indigenous women in Asia.
As the UNSRRIP, she will submit her thematic report on indigenous justice systems this 2019 and encouraged the women to submit their contributions to her report.
“We cannot say, ‘Cannot’”
The regional and country focal points, who were identified during the fourth AIWN conference in Bangkok, Thailand last October 2018, have identified major and specific activities they can do for the next three years, from 2020 to 2022, while mapping their capacities, the current and emerging challenges they confront and their proposed actions in response to the challenges.
Activities are primarily on building the capacities of indigenous women especially on their leadership skills and raising their awareness, lobbying and advocacy, documentation and reporting, and economic empowerment.
Being organized at the community to the regional level with capabilities and high commitment to reach out to other stakeholders, to monitor the situation of indigenous women, to lobby the governments are among the strengths of the indigenous women’s organizations the focal points have presented.
They also said that lack of resources, government regulations and government insensitivity to indigenous peoples, language barrier, lack of capacity or expertise of indigenous women, political conditions, discrimination against indigenous women from highly patriarchal relations, lack of appropriate information and communications technologies, lack of disaggregated data, lack of participation of indigenous women in decision-making are among the challenges they face in the implementation of the three-year activities they set.
Capacity building through trainings of indigenous women including men, fund raising, continuing lobby and advocacy and participation to important fora a such as at the sessions of the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues are also among the actions they identified to undertake in response to the challenges.
Ms Lat Sok Em, participating on behalf of the focal point of indigenous women in Cambodia, said that they cannot say they cannot work on the activities they have identified as those are all geared towards the best interest of the indigenous women in their communities.
Understanding the Green Climate Fund
Ms Helen Biangalen-Magata, the Southern CSO alternate active observer at the GCF and staff of Tebtebba, provided an overview of the GCF and its Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Policy as part of the training of the focal points. She said that there are project portfolios with the GCF that affect indigenous communities and understanding the GCF is an important step for the AIWN focal points.
The GCF, headquartered at Songdo, South Korea, was established during the UNFCCC’s 16th Conference of Parties (COP) in Cancun, Mexico in 2010, as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. The GCF Board composed of 24 members representing developed and developing countries equally govern the Fund and are accountable to and functions under the COP.
In 2018, it adopted the Indigenous Peoples’ Policy which a team of indigenous peoples including Ms Biangalen-Magata and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have worked and lobbied for. The IP Policy applies to all indigenous peoples around the world. The right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples is included in the policy among other essential elements of indigenous peoples’ wellbeing. Ms Biangalen-Magata also mentioned that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is used as a standard in the GCF.
Ms Biangalen-Magata also stressed on some important details of the IP Policy such as its scope, its guiding principles, avoidance of adverse impacts of GCF-funded projects, meaningful consultation, equitable compensation and shared benefits, and grievance and redress mechanisms.
She noted that an Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group composed of four indigenous peoples’ representatives is created to advice the GCF Secretariat, National Designated Authorities (NDAs), Accredited and Executing Entities in case of GCF-supported projects affecting indigenous peoples as well as to monitor and review the implement of the IP Policy and provide guidance and advice to the Board as may be requested.
Mr Raymond de Chavez, the Deputy Executive Director of Tebtebba and also part of the IPs engaging at the GCF, gave an overview of the engagements of IPs at the GCF Board Meetings. He emphasized that IPs are engaging the GCF because they are the most vulnerable and most impacted to climate change and the consequences of ill-conceived climate change solutions. In addition, the IPs play key roles and offer valuable contributions to increasing resilience to climate change impacts through their perspectives, traditional knowledge and sustainable resource management and practices. IPs also engage as the Cancun Agreement explicitly acknowledges the obligations of State Parties to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in any climate change actions and programmes while the Paris Agreement recognizes the positive contributions of IPs’ traditional knowledge to climate change adaptation.
Mr de Chavez said that there are three key demands of IPs engaging at the GCF meetings: respect the rights of indigenous peoples including the recognition of their traditional knowledge, full and effective participation, and access to resources.
Mr de Chavez also mentioned that the engagements of IPs resulted to remarkable gains such as the increased prominence of indigenous issues within the Board, sustained and effective engagement with the Board and the CSOs, engagement at the national level, scoping on readiness and IPs and the approval of the IP Policy.
Ms Biangalen-Magata disclosed opportunities for engagements of indigenous women at the national level which include participation in readiness programmes, Board meetings of the GCF and regional multi-stakeholder consultations, submission of petitions and letters to the GCF, online presence, one-on-one engagements with the Board Members and country negotiators, direct engagements with the NDAs and focal points, and monitoring and reporting of implementation of GCF policies and projects.
The participants were also able to get a glimpse of the project proposals targeting some communities in their countries which are submitted at the GCF with some under the Board’s deliberation.
News writing and utilizing social media for indigenous women visibility
As part of the training of the focal points, Ms Biangalen-Magata provided a review of news and feature story writing to enhance their skills in sharing the day-to-day stories of indigenous women in their communities to a broader audience.
She emphasized on accuracy, brevity and clarity as well as on some key tips in writing news and feature stories.
A short news story writing of the women and critiquing ensued.
Mr de Chavez, in addition, provided a lecture on the use of social media by IPs where he stressed that IPs worldwide are interacting online and supporting indigenous issues and causes. He, however, noted from a research the setbacks of using social media to IPs such as cyber bullying and cyber racism.
Facebook, he said, is the most widely-used social media and can be maximized by and for AIWN members. He also provided tips in utilizing Facebook and its various features such as the Facebook Live.
The focal points who participated in the strategic coordination meeting and training came from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Cambodia, India and Nepal.
This activity, organized by AIWN, is a part of the Strengthening the AIWN and Mobilizing Change project being supported by Leading from the South Programme of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF/FIMI). ***
First posted at www.tebtebba.org.
Call for Contributions -- Indigenous justice systems and harmonisation with the ordinary justice system’ - SR IP Report to the Human Rights Council 20197 April 2019, 1:45 am Written by OHCHR
Indigenous peoples’ own systems of justice is a subject which has recurrently been addressed by the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, including through country visits, communications, and in seminars and conferences. The main concerns which have been raised by indigenous peoples are the lack of effective recognition of, and support for, their systems of justice by local, regional and national level authorities; ongoing discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes against indigenous peoples and their systems of justice; and the lack of effective methods of coordination between their justice systems and the State ordinary justice authorities. The observance of international human rights standards by both the ordinary and indigenous justice systems, particularly regarding the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities is also a concern that deserves due consideration.
The Special Rapporteur has therefore decided to devote particular attention to this issue through the elaboration of a thematic report which will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2019. She intends to address these issues through an examination of international standards regarding indigenous customary justice, access to justice and the right to a fair trial as well as lessons learned from domestic legislation and judicial decisions addressing indigenous customary justice, as well as observations and recommendations made by international human rights bodies.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) asserts the right of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions (Article 5) and to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures, including their juridical systems or customs in accordance with international human rights standards (Article 34). These are important elements of their right to self-determination. The Declaration furthermore affirms the right of indigenous peoples to ‘access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights’ which should give due consideration ‘to the customs, traditional, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights’ (Article 40).
In order to develop the report based on an assessment of progress made in this area, the Special Rapporteur would appreciate receiving information, including on the following:
Indigenous justice systems and coordination with the ordinary justice system
1. Please describe the significance of indigenous justice systems for indigenous peoples and their exercise of collective rights, including self-determination, culture, customs and spiritual traditions.
2. What national legal provisions establish recognition of indigenous justice systems?
3. Are there restrictions on the exercise of indigenous jurisdiction and if so, which are these restrictions? Can indigenous jurisdiction be exercised over non-indigenous individuals?
4. Please provide examples of how jurisprudence of the ordinary justice system has referred to matters relating to the indigenous justice systems.
5. How do the jurisdictions between the ordinary justice system and the indigenous justice systems cooperate and coordinate and how is this regulated?
6. Are the decisions by indigenous justice systems subject to appeals in, and review by, the ordinary justice system?
7. What measures are in place to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the ordinary and indigenous justice systems? Is there any joint entity consisting of both ordinary and indigenous justice representatives?
8. How is it ensured that the accused are not tried in both the customary and ordinary justice system (double jeopardy)?
9. What financial and technical assistance is provided by the State to the administration of indigenous justice systems?
10. Are there measures in place to ensure that indigenous justice systems are in line with international human rights standards and respect the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBT persons?
Indigenous peoples in the ordinary justice system
11. What are the main challenges faced by indigenous peoples in terms of accessing the ordinary justice system?
12. Please describe how legal aid and the right to interpretation are provided in the ordinary justice system for indigenous victims, witnesses and those accused of having committed a crime.
13. Are indigenous or non-indigenous experts called to give testimony during court proceedings involving indigenous persons in the ordinary justice system? Please give examples.
14. In relation to indigenous persons facing criminal penalties in the ordinary justice system, how are their economic, social and cultural characteristics taken into account and how is preference given to methods of punishment other than prison?
15. Are indigenous peoples overrepresented in pre-trial detention and prisons compared to the non-indigenous population?
16. What measures are in place to ensure that places of detention respect cultural and religious practices and culturally adequate health services?
17. Please indicate and give examples of how the ordinary justice has provided remedies and reparation for successful indigenous petitioners.
The Special Rapporteur would appreciate receiving information no later than 10 May 2019 in order to consider it in the preparation of the report.
Kindly indicate "Justice Report 2019" in the subject heading of the email submission.
Message of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the Occasion of the International Day of Women8 March 2019, 2:47 am Written by Maribeth Bugtong
Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the convenor of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network and the current UNSRIP has shared her message in the celebration of the International Day of Women via her Facebook account:
“While we celebrate International Women’s Day, we should not forget the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada and the US and the rest of the world, the disproportionate number of incarcerated indigenous women in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US, and the trafficked indigenous women and girls in many countries. We also remember indigenous women who have been forcibly displaced from their traditional territories because of extractive industries, agribusiness expansion, mega-infrastructure projects and militarization. We think of those who have been killed and who are victims of domestic violence and those who have been raped and never saw justice come their way. We think of indigenous women who are suffering from environmental degradation because of the operations of extractive industries and agribusinesses. We think of those who have been criminalized.”
“Let us work together to stop all these and to support the efforts of indigenous women to empower themselves and communities. The big source of hope for the world today is seeing scores of indigenous women becoming empowered individually and collectively, who are asserting their rights and claiming these in the best ways they can. We are seeing more indigenous women strengthening not just themselves but their communities as well. We see them trying their best to adapt to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation using their traditional knowledge and innovating new ways. We see them trying to address the violence in their communities and homes and addressing conflicts. This International Women’s Day should be celebrated by knowing more about women’s situations and acknowledging and supporting further their efforts to make this world respect, protect and fulfill indigenous women’s collective and individual human rights. We celebrate by committing to do more in terms of practicing, spreading and transmitting the values of solidarity, reciprocity, living in harmony with nature, human rights and sustainability and fighting against racism and discrimination and all forms of human rights violations including violence against women, girls and nature. HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY! MORE POWER TO INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND TO ALL WOMEN.”
January 14, 2019- Languages play a crucial role in our daily lives. They are not only our first medium for communication, education and social integration, but are also at the heart of each person’s unique identity, cultural history and memory. The ongoing loss of indigenous languages is particularly devastating, as the complex knowledges and cultures they foster are increasingly being recognized as strategic resources for good governance, peacebuilding, reconciliation, and sustainable development. More importantly, such losses have huge negative impacts indigenous peoples’ most basic human rights.
An International Year is an important mechanism dedicated to raising awareness of a topic of global interest and mobilizing different players for coordinated action around the world. In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/71/178) proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, based on a recommendation by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. At the time, the Permanent Forum expressed concern that 40 per cent of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages were in danger of disappearing— the majority belonging to indigenous peoples.
Hosted by UNESCO in collaboration with the Permanent Forum, the IYIL 2019 will strive to preserve, support and promote indigenous languages at the national, regional and international levels.
The IYIL2019 will mobilize stakeholders to act in five key areas:
1. Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation.
2. Creating favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices.
3. Integrating indigenous languages into a standard setting.
4. Empowering through capacity building.
5. Elaborating new knowledge to foster growth and development.
Join us in celebrating IYIL2019 to help promote and protect indigenous languages and improve the lives of those who speak them. Together, we can all come closer to achieving the objectives set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. To learn more, please see: https://en.iyil2019.org/
#IYIL2019 #UN4Indigenous #WeAreIndigenous
(Tuesday, October 16, 2018)- The theme for International Women’s Day 2019, which will take place on 8 March, is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”.
The theme will focus on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.
The achievement of the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions, particularly when it comes to advancing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Based on current trajectories, existing interventions will not suffice to achieve a Planet 50-50 by 2030. Innovative approaches that disrupt “business as usual” are central to removing structural barriers and ensuring that no woman and no girl is left behind.
Innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities, yet trends indicate a growing gender digital divide and women are under-represented in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design. It prevents them from developing and influencing gender-responsive innovations to achieve transformative gains for society. From mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that women’s ideas and experiences equally influence the design and implementation of the innovations that shape our future societies.
Echoing the CSW63 Priority theme, IWD 2019 will look to industry leaders, game-changing start-ups, social entrepreneurs, gender equality activists, and women innovators to examine the ways in which innovation can remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls. On 8 March 2019, join us as we celebrate a future in which innovation and technology creates unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play an active role in building more inclusive systems, efficient services and sustainable infrastructure to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs and gender equality.
Indigenous Women Matter:
Resilience, Governance and Sustainable Development
Declaration of the 4th Conference of the Asia Indigenous Women’s Network
Bangkok, Thailand, 6-8 October 2018
WE ARE INDIGENOUS WOMEN.
Kankanaey-Igorot, Boro, Lisu, Karen, Kachin, Chin, Mandaya, Mansaka, Dumagat, Tripura, Papora, Marma, Rakhain, Bunong, Shan, Mon, Kreung, Sumi, Naga, Oraon, Kharia, Minahasa, Taluk, Dayak, Krio, Kanayatn, Semoa Beri, Hmong, Semai, Iban, Dusun Kimaragang, Thakali, Lhomi, Thanu, Newar, Gurung, Tai, Pinuyumayan, Munda, Kalinga and Kalimantan women from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.
We have gathered at the Prince Palace Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand on October 6-8, 2018 for the 4th Asia Indigenous Women’s Network with the theme Indigenous Women Matter: Resilience, Governance and Sustainable Development, and affirm the Lima Declaration of the World Conference of Indigenous Women.
We hereby “assert our right to self-determination, which encompasses the direct, full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and the vital role of Indigenous women in all matters related to our human rights, political status, and well-being.”
In the the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there should be nothing about us, without us!
Agenda 21 to Agenda 2030: Continuing impacts of historical discrimination
It has been 23 years since the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing where indigenous women from all over the globe met for the first time to share their situation, unite on analyses and build solidarity for support and action. The multiple oppression and multidimensional discrimination identified as shared experience among these women still persist until this day despite international commitments for the respect, protection and fulfilment of women and indigenous peoples’ rights, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) adopted in 2007, Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals, and now the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
We acknowledge the progress in the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and women’s equal rights and the succeeding initiatives of transformative partnership with indigenous peoples. However, complex challenges remain as economic interests and power prevail over saving the planet for the future generation. Most Asian countries have adopted the UNDRIP, but a lot of work have yet to be done to make this a reality at the national level, including repealing contradictory laws especially those relating to indigenous peoples’ lands and self-determination. In the meantime, despite international commitments to combat the climate crisis, it is business as usual in Asia where the remaining robust resources in indigenous territories are targeted by extractive industries, tourism, hydropower dams, industrial and agricultural corporations, including conservation initiatives.
THIS IS OUR SITUATION.
Twenty-three years since Beijing, indigenous women and their communities all over the region are still challenging the increasing loss of the most vital element of their security and well-being - our ancestral lands and resources. The grave violation of human and collective rights of indigenous peoples, including multifaceted gender violence today, speaks of the general lack of political will among states to effectively address the plight of indigenous peoples.
Criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders
There is an alarming increase in criminalization and extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples human rights defenders protecting indigenous territories and resources from further extraction and exploitation. Forty percent (40%) of those murdered in 2016 are indigenous peoples. While this number went down to 25% by 2017, this still represent a disproportionate number, considering they compose only 5% of the global population. While the proportion of indigenous women to men is 1 woman to nine males globally, they suffer from continuing gender-specific threats like sexual violence, threats to the well-being of their children and targeted smear campaigns as terrorists, among others. With Philippines ranking as the 2nd most dangerous country in the world and the most dangerous in Asia, with India, Pakistan and Myanmar in the list, Asia is second to Latin America as the most dangerous regions for human and indigenous rights activists. Militarization of indigenous communities continue unabated resulting to utter disruption including children’s education and the weakening of indigenous socio-political, economic systems impacting heavily on the collective dynamics of indigenous peoples. In some areas, this is almost tantamount to ethnocide.
Criminalization extends to our indigenous livelihoods and food systems, not to mention that most are already in states of plunder and degradation from toxic industrial and agricultural waste and extreme climate conditions. More than hunger and poverty, our over-all well-being is threatened from all angles, even within the confines of the territories that has once secured our ancestors.
Violence against indigenous women and girls
Violence against indigenous women remains unabated. Physical, sexual and psychological assault on indigenous women, including witch-hunting, trafficking and bonded labor, characterize concerted efforts to stifle growing indigenous women’s rights advances and their communities’ assertion of collective rights to self-determination. A significant part of the onslaught against indigenous women, both as individuals and as indigenous peoples, come from state laws, policies and programs, and in many cases, the bureaucracy. The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey puts India as the most dangerous place for women based on incidence of “sexual violence and harassment, cultural and traditional practices and from human trafficking including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude.” Myanmar comes in third in the ranking. 
Sadly, in some indigenous communities where patriarchy and feudalism are strong and with high incidence and persistence of poverty, indigenous women can also be under attack within the family and society, such as witch-hunting in South Asia and bride kidnaps in Southeast Asia. The region remains to be a popular labor, sex and organ trafficking hub. In India alone, more than three fourths of tribal women from 3 states are in major cities working as domestic helpers. Closely related to labor migration is trafficking. Alarm has been raised about bride trafficking among indigenous communities in Southeast Asia and India. In one indigenous community in Nepal, there is, reportedly, at least one member in every household who exchanged a kidney for much needed cash.
Indigenous peoples’ poverty is further exacerbated by the alienation of our sources for subsistence in favor of state priorities and corporate agenda in the name of development or governance. In the CHT of Bangladesh, demographic engineering continues to be the root cause of violent conflicts and where women-targeted crimes have been alarming. In India, the same phenomenon has numerically minoritized the indigenous peoples in their own territory impacting on their access to basic services, programs and indigenous self-governance. In this situation of deprivation and marginalization, indigenous women are forced to seek better opportunities outside their communities, most often, leaving children in the care of parents or relatives.
Impacts from development initiatives and access to justice
The interlinkages of conflict and development-induced displacement is very pronounced in Asia.
The impacts of the climate crises escalates human pressure and competition for resources predisposing indigenous women and children to disproportionate risks. The montane erosion caused by Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines, claiming around 80 indigenous victims, is directly related to the local history of corporate mining in the area.
Indonesia has had its series of incidents from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes to the latest tsunami in Central Sulawesi. While retrieval and relief work is ongoing, concerns have been raised about the equally affected indigenous communities who have been isolated and are being left out of the post disaster work. In both sudden and slow-onset disasters emergency, relief and rehabilitation responses detracts and obscures underlying matters of human rights and accountability including the particular strategic needs of indigenous women, girls and those with disabilities.
Access to justice and basic social services is very limited and attacks the dignity of indigenous women. The justice system is usually geographically and financially inaccessible, alienating in language, format and process, and culturally and gender insensitive, thus, demoralizing for indigenous women. Aside from these, corruption in law enforcement prevails tolerating tampering of medico-legal reports. Up to now, many indigenous women do not enjoy their right to a nationality which deprives them access to basic services.
Lack of full and effective recognition, protection and fulfillment of individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples is counterproductive to the global targets of sustainable development and gender empowerment. It induces intercommunity/intra-people conflict, food instability, landlessness and general human insecurity. It keeps indigenous women impoverished, dependent and in vulnerable conditions, and unable to fully enjoy all their rights as women and indigenous peoples. In the spirit of the 2030 Agenda’s “leaving no one behind,” structural injustice must be addressed by all actors at all levels.
WE ARE STEWARDS OF LIFE . WE MATTER.
We, Indigenous Women in Asia, stand firm in our resolve to fulfill our roles as stewards of life – our lives rooted in the legacy of our identities and territories nurtured by our ancestors and the lives of the future generation. Building on our knowledge and experiences and harnessing resources, means and strategies, we are addressing these intersecting challenges resulting from our history of discrimination in various forms and levels amid the market-oriented, business-as-usual development trend and worsening situation of our rights as women and as indigenous peoples. We are working towards the realization of indigenous peoples’ sustainable, self-determined development:
Indigenous women in Thailand have been enabling themselves to claim their citizenship and advance participation in decision making spaces in the formal and traditional spaces while addressing discrimination of women in the traditional context.
Despite the volatile situation of indigenous peoples and the relentless and unconscionable incidences of violence against indigenous women in Bangladesh, indigenous women in the Chittagong Hilltracts of Bangladesh are addressing their marginalization as women in traditional governance systems without invalidating the latter. To date, there are reportedly 385 women karbaris (village heads) out of more than 870. While challenges from the personal to the broader social level persist, these women, organizing themselves as a network, are slowly influencing the advancement of the status of indigenous women as they drive their communities to gender empowerment.
The conflict-affected indigenous women in Burma are working on transformative justice and enhancing participation in local governance;
Indigenous women in Indonesia are mapping their spaces and asserting customary forests and participation in matters affecting them, while challenging the impacts of oil palm plantation and lobbying for the passage of a bill recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights in the country;
Indigenous women in Lao PDR are working in various ways to empower young women to address discrimination in their communities and in the wider society. These include targeted trainings, i.e., lifeskills and support for indigenous youth migrating to the urban centers for education, and support for the livelihoods of indigenous women in their communities.
Indigenous women in Nepal are consistently lobbying for their representation and participation, including those of indigenous women with disabilities, from local to international level;
Indigenous women in Vietnam are using legal platforms to advance their status through the promotion of indigenous knowledge, food systems and transmission of culture;
Similarly, indigenous women in Taiwan are using the recent law recognizing indigenous peoples in Taiwan to strengthen their ranks while working towards further recognition of other indigenous peoples’ groups not included in the said law;
Indigenous women in Cambodia are organizing themselves to strengthen their ranks in the campaign against economic land concessions and gender violence;
Indigenous women in Malaysia continue to strengthen indigenous women and their community’s capacities to assert and protect their rights to their lands and territories;
Indigenous women in India continue to respond to gender discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls while asserting rights to land a territories, despite various kinds of challenges faced from within and outside their communities.
In the Philippines, indigenous women continue to build the resilience of their organizations and communities through community organizing, mobilizing to establish indigenous community schools, and ensuring food security using indigenous knowledge and practices. Indigenous women, at different levels and spaces, continue to engage in the campaign against militarization and corporate interests in indigenous territories.
We have a voice. We have been governing ourselves since time immemorial. We know what is good and what is bad for us and that has to be acknowledged! States, development actors and agencies should :
1. Address structural barriers to indigenous peoples and gender - responsive development by effectively implementing state commitments to indigenous peoples and women. There is a need for stronger political will among nation-states to curb resource extraction, land and water expropriation, megahydropower dams and rethink conservation, tourism, among others.
This should include :
o Suspension of all initiatives and programs without genuine consent from indigenous peoples concerned or otherwise resulting to plunder of their territories and exploitation of human resources including trafficking among indigenous women and youth;
o Repeal existing policies contrary to the UNDRIP and the CEDAW and effectively integrate these instruments in national program implementation, specifically, Agenda 2030, in consultation and partnership with indigenous peoples noting the need to leverage spaces to engage indigenous women . The need for disaggregated data based on sex and ethnicity is crucial to this end.
2. Institutionalize special measures to address the intersectionalities of discrimination, specially land rights for indigenous women within the scope and protection of indigenous peoples’ collective lands.
3. Support initiatives to respond to the need for development strategies that respect collective rights, ensure environmental, social, cultural and the spiritual integrity of indigenous peoples while affirming their capacities to decide and implement their sustainable, self-determined development.
o Access to financial and technical support should be empowering, not dehumanizing. Development actors should facilitate direct linkages of indigenous women to financial and technical support agencies.
o Resources should also be targeted to leverage the position of indigenous women to enable effective participation.
We, indigenous women in Asia, working together as a loose network with a common vision for the advancement of our status as women and as indigenous peoples and the overall gender empowerment of our own communities and the wider public, commit to harness and unleash our power and potentials to sustain our visions of development. We shall:
1) Strengthen our organizations and agencies in the advancement of our status and realization of rights as women within and outside our own communities. We will keep working for the enhancement of our institutional capacities and linkages at different spaces and levels. This includes strengthening capacities to generate, document and monitor data not only to ensure our visibility but more importantly in support of our advocacy and campaigns for data disaggregation and accounting for our contribution to sustainable development. We further commit to continue monitoring and reporting violations of our individual and collective rights through our community monitoring efforts and participatory mapping and resource inventory.
2) Arrest the erosion of our indigenous knowledge, language and practice through continuing exercise while ensuring transmission to the our children and youth, in support of the integrity of our indigenous territories which has sustained our families and communities through generations.
4. Sustain and strengthen our engagement at different levels and in different platforms to ensure the integration of indigenous knowledge and practices including respect for our spirituality and well-being without further violating our rights.
3) Broaden solidarity to address discriminatory customs and practices within our own indigenous communities. We shall continue engaging our traditional and state systems to ensure gender-responsive processes to address violence against indigenous women and girls, climate and disaster actions, access to basic services and justice.
Organizations represented during the Conference:
Women’s Resource Network, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT), Yangon, Myanmar
Cambodia Indigenous Peoples' Organization (CIPO), Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Indigenous Women's Forum of the North East India (IWFNEI), NE, India
Boro Women's Justice Forum (BWJF), Assam, India
Torang Trust, Jharkhand, India
PEREMPUAN AMAN, Jakarta, Indonesia
Institut Dayakologi, Pontianak, Indonesia
Yayasan Karyah Sosial Pancur Kasih, Pontianak, Indonesia
Sisterhood for Development, Vientiane, Laos
Save the Children Laos, Vientiane, Laos
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Subang Jaya, Malyasia
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), Sarawak, Malaysia
National Indigenous Women’s Forum (NIWF), Kathmandu, Nepal
National Indigenous Women's Federation (NIWF), Kathmandu, Nepal
Center for Indigenous Peoples' Research and Development (CIPRED), Kathmandu, Nepal
National Indigenous Disabled Women Association Nepal (NIDWAN), Lalitpur, Nepal
Limpong na Tutong Mandaya na Kabubayan sang Calapagan na Asosasyon (LMTKCA), Davao Oriental, Philippines
National Alliance of Indigenous Women's Organizations (BAI), Quezon City, Philippines
Alliance of Indigenous Women's Organizations in the Cordillera Region (Innabuyog), Baguio City, Philippines
SILDAP Southeastern Mindanao, Inc., Davao del Norte, Philippines
Indigenous Women's Network of Thailand (IWNT), Chiangmai, Thailand
Centre of Research & Development in Upland Area (CERDA), Hanoi, Vietnam
Papora Indigenous Development Association, Taiwan
Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact, Chiangmai, Thailand
International Indigenous Women's Forum, Lima, Peru
Tebtebba, Baguio City, Philippines
 Targetting of indigenous women activists in the Philippines has escalated since 2012 Indigenous peoples managed community schools have been targeted in counter insurgency campaigns by Philippine government since 2012.
 In relation to the enlistment of Kaeng Krachen National Park as a world heritage park, the Karen have experienced forced evictions, destruction of housing and crops, arrests and enforced disappearances since 2010.
In India, 2,290 alleged witches were killed from 2000- 2016, most of which were poor, illiterate, old, widow and single. Aside from superstition, witch crimes have also reportedly been linked to disputes over land and property of women.
 “In Myanmar’s borders with China and Thailand, of 133 verified and suspected cases of trafficking involving 163 women and girls from Kachin and Northern Shan State documented in 2004-2007, 90 in the confirmed cases were sold to men in other countries as forced brides; 94% of them were sent to China” (https://aippnet.org/indigenous-women-and-human-trafficking-in-the-mekong-region-policy-overview-and-community-response/).
 India’s Forest Rights Act 2006 failed to prevent the displacement of Adivasis from their forests homes nor ensure reparations, in favor of wild animal reserves for decades. “…protected areas have already displaced some 600 000 tribal people and forest dwellers and affected many more. Yet, the Ministry of Environment and Forests plans to establish a further 650 wildlife sanctuaries and 150 national parks in the next few years, displacing as many people again" (PRIA, 1993).- http://www.fao.org/docrep/w1033e/w1033e08.htm
From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991.
See more details and actions at http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism and https://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu/.
Statement of Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples at the UN General Assembly15 October 2018, 6:37 am Written by UNSRIP Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Presentation to the Third Committee of the General Assembly
at its 73rd Session Item 71 (a & b): Rights of indigenous peoples
New York, 12th of October 2018
Honourable Chair of the Third Committee, Mr. Mahmoud Saikal
Distinguished Representatives of Member States,
Indigenous representatives and authorities in the room and across the world,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to address the General Assembly today for the fifth time since I took up the mandate as Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples in 2014. Over the last half decade, I have been reporting here and at the Human Rights Council on a range of troubling issues for indigenous peoples. I have tried to shed light on the structural reasons behind the human rights violations and marginalisation that indigenous peoples continue to face almost in every country. I have explored topics such as the impact of international investment and free trade agreements on indigenous peoples' rights; the impact of conservation and climate change adaption and mitigation projects; and the increasing attacks, criminalisation and even murder of indigenous peoples, amongst other issues.
Today, I want to discuss what I see as one of the possible solutions to address the challenges that indigenous peoples face across the world: namely the importance of protecting and promoting the role of indigenous peoples' own institutions and ways of governing themselves. At the core of this are the rights to self-determination, self- governance and autonomy.
In the report that I am presenting to you today I therefore provide introductory remarks on the subject of "indigenous peoples and self-governance". I aim to focus more on this topic over the next year in dialogue with indigenous peoples, States and other actors in order to provide recommendations on how to strengthen indigenous self-governance.
Some may say that this is a very complicated or even controversial topic. However, as I have seen through my country visits, communications with governments and thematic studies over the last five years, there are many good examples of indigenous self-governance systems that exist as a matter of formal agreement with the State and that are recognised either in the Constitution, legislation, policies or at working-level of the State. I would like to start by focusing and learning more from these existing examples. Every day and as we speak here, these numerous indigenous governance systems are enabling indigenous peoples to practice their right to self-government and achieve sustainable development in ways they define themselves.
Even more, these indigenous governance systems are recognised as playing a positive role in ensuring sustainable development outcomes for indigenous peoples as well as society at large. In the context of the Sustainable Development framework, and its focus on good governance, participation, ownership and leaving no one behind, I consider it very important to better understand the role that indigenous peoples' own governing systems can play in achieving sustainable development.
It is difficult to narrowly describe or define what "indigenous self-governance systems" are, given the broad diversity of indigenous institutions that exist globally and the different histories, contexts and struggles they have been shaped by. What I refer to in my report are the centuries-old governance systems that establish rules on the ways indigenous peoples relate to each other and their neighbours, as well as with nature and the surrounding ecosystems. In many cases, these institutions include customary, oral and written laws as well as dispute resolution and adjudication mechanisms. These systems existed long before indigenous peoples were colonised by external forces and before post-colonial nation-States emerged. In many places, they continue to exist and operate in indigenous communities. They embed indigenous peoples' traditional worldviews, values, norms, laws, and their concepts of authority and ways of exercising leadership. In recent decades, contemporary forms of institutions, including indigenous parliaments, councils and organisations, have also been developed, often in cooperation with States and some with the aim to increase indigenous self-governance. The diversity of indigenous governance systems is a reflection of the diverse cultures, histories and realities of indigenous peoples.
Many of the traditional indigenous governance systems have proven to be better than external actors in ensuring the well-being, peace and security and rights of indigenous peoples. They furthermore contribute to conflict reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation, conservation, and culturally appropriate education and health services, access to justice, amongst many other positive outcomes. The recognition of and support to indigenous governance systems is hence essential for the realisation of indigenous peoples' rights, and in particular their right to self- determination. Let me give you some examples of this:
Improved public services: Several studies, amongst others from North America, emphasise how indigenous governance systems efficiently manage a broad range of public services, often more effectively than external actors, given the profound understanding that indigenous peoples have of their own cultures, traditions and values.
Conservation and maintaining biodiversity: There is also increasing evidence of the overlap between the territories and areas of indigenous peoples and high levels of biodiversity and healthy forests. While indigenous peoples occupy 22 per cent of the world's landmass, 80 per cent of the world's biodiversity is found in their lands and territories. A key factor explaining this overlap is precisely indigenous peoples' governance systems and customary laws, which define the relationship to their lands, territories and resources and are based on values of reciprocity and solidarity. Another factor is the ability of these systems to adapt to the physical, political and cultural changes which they encounter. One essential element of those customary laws is collective ownership and management of lands, territories and resources, which studies have shown contributes positively to conservation outcomes such as preventing deforestation and loss of wildlife.
Climate change adaptation and mitigation: Indigenous traditional knowledge, governance systems and holistic views of community and the environment have also been broadly recognised as a resource in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has for instance documented how indigenous knowledge has been effective in developing measures to cope with climate hasards and has contributed to increased food security in many parts of the world.
Examples include the Inuit knowledge of climate variability when hunting, the Inca traditions of crop diversification and knowledge of genetic diversity and, in the Sahel, the use of water-harvesting strategies and weather forecasting. Through increased self-governance, these practices can provide better safeguards against the effects of climate change.
Conflict prevention and access to justice: Indigenous institutions also play an important role in ensuring conflict prevention, order and dispute resolution. For example, this can be observed in the community police models that are thriving in several Latin American countries. Other examples include traditional justice models that solve conflicts and provide access to justice in ways, which respect both cultural diversity as well as human rights norms.
Self-determination: Of course, the right to self-governance is also a right on its own. It is closely linked to the foundational right of self-determination, as it allows indigenous peoples to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Hence, it carries intrinsic value as it supports the ability of indigenous governance systems to evolve and adapt to changes.
These are still preliminary reflections on the topic. Over the next year, I would like to gather much more information about existing indigenous self-governance systems, and the outcomes they have contributed to. Furthermore, we need to learn more about the challenges that indigenous governance systems face and how to overcome them. The right of indigenous peoples to govern themselves is well established in international human rights law and jurisprudence. However, it is when it comes into practice that challenges arise. These include challenges such as the coordination between indigenous and contemporary institutions of the State; the limited financial and human resources available to manage the indigenous governance systems properly; the lack of control and ability to self-govern; as well as the need to ensure that indigenous governance systems are aligned with international human rights standards e.g. gender equality, due process and so on.
My hope is that we in this dialogue will hear good examples from the national level on how you have dealt with these challenges. This may assist in identifying recommendations that can be applied in other contexts.
I wish to mention that this topic has also been a core concern for the other United Nations mechanisms on the rights of indigenous peoples. It was addressed in the 2011 EMRIP study on participation in decision-making and the UN Permanent Forum's recent work on sustainable development in the territories of indigenous peoples. I look forward to coordinating with these mechanisms over the coming year to enhance our combined knowledge about the role that indigenous peoples' own governance systems can play, particularly as it relates to the achievement of sustainable development.
I would now like to say a few words about my overall activities and work since I addressed the General Assembly last year. I will in particular focus on criminalisation, my two country visits to Mexico and Guatemala and the topic of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation.
Violence against and criminalisation of indigenous peoples
My report to the Human Rights Council's 39th session in September (A/HRC/39/17) provided an analysis of the worrying escalation of violence, criminalisation, harassment and threats against indigenous peoples, particularly when they are defending and exercising their rights on their lands, territories and natural resources. These human rights violations often arise when indigenous leaders and community members voice concerns over large-scale projects related to extractive industries, agribusiness, infrastructure, hydroelectric dams and logging.
It seems that once more, indigenous peoples have ended at the forefront as targets of persecution. The rapidly intensifying competition over natural resources on their traditional lands and territories is driving this violence. Indigenous leaders and communities who object to the negative impacts of large-scale projects on their rights, livelihoods and the environment are being targeted and killed, forcibly evicted, threatened and subjected to insidious harassment in the form of criminal charges which are often nebulous, grossly inflated or fictitious. The aim of these attacks, whether violent or legal, is to silence any opposition by indigenous peoples to business interests and to prevent indigenous peoples from exercising their rights.
A crucial underlying cause of the current intensified attacks is the failure to provide indigenous communities with secure land tenure, as this in turn undermines their ability to effectively defend their lands from the damage caused by large-scale projects.
The report is a first step of looking at this issue. I am committed to continue raising attention to attacks and criminalisation of indigenous human rights defenders and to promote solutions in terms of better prevention and protection measures.
Indigenous peoples in isolation and initial contact
At the Human Rights Council in September, I also presented a thematic report on indigenous peoples in isolation and initial contact in South America, following a conference on this topic in Peru last year. This is an underexplored but extremely important topic, as there is an urgent need to redouble efforts to improve protection for the territories and environment of indigenous peoples in isolation and initial contact, in line with international standards. The report recommends that States need to develop and adequately implement differentiated policies directed at indigenous peoples in initial contact, notably in the area of health, while at the same time refraining from implementing actions that affect their lands and resources.
Visits and communications
Let me continue with a few words on my recent country visits as well as my communications with governments and other entities.
Since I reported to the General Assembly last year, I have conducted two official country visits: to Mexico from 8 to 17 November 2017, and to Guatemala from 1 to 10 May 2018. I wish to thank the Governments of Mexico and Guatemala for their invitations, as well as for their cooperation during the missions and for allowing me to pursue them in an independent manner.
Mexico and Guatemala have played an important role in supporting the advancement of the rights of indigenous peoples at the international arena, including in the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in the establishment of my mandate. However, at the national level, both countries country still face serious challenges in implementing these commitments.
In Mexico, I received information about some positive measures in the fields of health and education, as well as efforts to facilitate indigenous peoples' access to justice. But I could observe that the actual situation of indigenous peoples in the country reflects a huge gap between the international commitments adopted by the State and the reality on the ground.
There is a need for effective and coordinated action at the federal, state and municipal levels to confront the serious situation of indigenous peoples, notably the lack of adequate implementation of their rights to self-determination and to their lands, territories and natural resources, their political participation and access to justice. Urgent measures should also be adopted to solve the violence and insecurity problems as well as the poverty, marginalisation and discrimination affecting indigenous peoples.
In Guatemala, indigenous peoples constitute the majority of the population. In spite of this, they have never participated on equal footing in the political, social, cultural and economic life of the country. I could observe that indigenous peoples face structural racism and discrimination in their daily lives, reflected in the lack of protection of their lands, territories and natural resources and in their difficulties in gaining access to justice, health and education, or political participation. I was concerned to learn that in spite of the overall national economic growth, the levels of inequality are increasing. Around 40 per cent of indigenous peoples still live in extreme poverty, and more than half of all indigenous children in Guatemala are chronically malnourished.
I observed that the implementation of the vast majority of the commitments in 1996 Peace Accord on Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Identity remain unfulfilled, as do most of the recommendations issued in 2002 by my predecessor, Professor Stavenhagen, following his country visit. It is deeply disturbing, that today, 22 years after the signing of the Peace Accords, only 19% of the commitments adopted in the Accord on Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Identity have been implemented. There has been insufficient progress in particular related to securing land and resource rights, bilingual intercultural education, and recognition of indigenous authorities and justice.
Both in Mexico and Guatemala, I received numerous complaints about the impacts of the current 'development' model on the rights of indigenous peoples. The drastic increase of extractive and other projects fails to respect indigenous peoples' right to determine their own priorities and strategies for the development and use of their lands, territories and natural resources. These projects are generally undertaken without adequate human rights impact assessments nor good faith consultations to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned.
I am extremely concerned about the increasing levels of violence, forced evictions and the criminalisation of indigenous peoples in both Mexico and Guatemala. In Guatemala, I visited indigenous leaders in prison for defending their lands and I am particularly disturbed by the killings of several indigenous leaders during and since my recent visit.
Apart from the country visits, I have continued to share information with governments and other actors in relation to allegations of violations of indigenous peoples' rights globally. Since last year, I have sent 48 communications to 19 States and other entities in relation to violations of a wide range of economic, social and cultural as well as civil and political rights. I appreciate the responses I have received and the dialogue some of the communications have led to with different Governments.
With these words, I would like to end my report to the General Assembly and give the word to you. I am ready to listen and I am very hopeful that today we can have a constructive dialogue on indigenous peoples' right to self-govern and its contribution to achieving sustainable development for all, also for indigenous peoples.
(September 26, 2018)-- Joan Carling is an indigenous rights activist and environmental defender from the Philippines. She has been defending land rights from grassroots to international levels for more than 20 years. Her main concerns include protection of land rights of indigenous peoples, ensuring sustainable development of natural resources and upholding human rights of marginalized people. She has actively participated in global processes to defend these concerns, including those related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and REDD+. She has twice served as the Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance. She was appointed by the UN Economic and Social Council as an indigenous expert and served as a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues between 2014 and 2016. She is a member and co-convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals. As an environmental defender, Joan has faced threats against her life and security.
Joan Carling: Building resilience to overcome injustice
I have dedicated my life to teaching about human rights. I have spent much of it campaigning for environmental protection and sustainable development. So, I was surprised to learn that I was labelled as a terrorist.
In February this year, I was placed on a list of alleged armed rebels in the Philippines. I haven’t been home since. It has uprooted me: I fear for the safety of my family and friends. But I need to stay more motivated than ever. I cannot give up the fight for my people.
I am from the Kankanaey tribe of the northern region of Cordillera: the land of gold. Our land sits on a mineral belt, rich in gold, copper and manganese. It belongs to us, the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. Yet, our natural resources and way of life are threatened by mining companies and other so-called “development projects”. As of July 2000, over half of the Cordillera land had mining applications pending.
Selling our environment: at what cost?
I spent my childhood in a remote forest under logging concession. Nomadic communities from the forest often visited, travelling up to six hours to exchange their sweet potato or other crops for rice or sugar, which they couldn’t grow themselves. My parents would offer a meal, and it was from these simple exchanges that I learned humility, reciprocity, and respect for our diverse indigenous communities and cultures.
In my youth, I was inspired by the struggle against the construction of hydropower dams along the Chico River. If developed, these dams would have affected 16 towns and villages and displaced 100,000 tribal peoples, tearing apart their livelihoods and social fabric. Many of those who opposed the dam were jailed. Macli-ing Dulag, a Kalinga tribal leader, was assassinated. More killings took place in the name of national security and development.
When I was at the University of the Philippines, I spent two months in the Kalinga tribal area who fought hard to stop the Chico dams. What I learned from indigenous communities is this: when we destroy our landscape, we destroy ourselves. By defending our land, we also defend our future and the generations to come.
I was struck by their sense of community; their simple lifestyles, their cooperation and selflessness. Their culture and values are intrinsically linked to the land, their livelihood and identity just like my own kankanaey people. The way these people care for each other and the environment deeply moved and inspired me.
Over the years, I’ve seen first-hand the environmental devastation caused by large dams and gold mining. To us, these are not development projects. They are not designed by us nor for us. This is just resource extraction. Mines leave massive toxic waste, and communities collapse. These projects cause mass displacement, worsen poverty and destroy the cultural heritage of our people.
I’ve seen indigenous peoples living in remote villages silenced, unable to raise their voice to protect their land and the environment. I have worked with them for more than a decade to raise awareness, through protests and dialogue. We engaged with mining companies, dam builders, local authorities and the media, and formed support groups alliances for the protection of human rights and the environment. Despite the threats, risks, and more repression, I persevered in my work, along with other dedicated leaders.
Time to strengthen our resilience!
Through my work with communities in the Philippines, in Asia and beyond, I have realized that this is a global issue. We need to bring voices of indigenous peoples to the debate and raise them in front of policymakers. Indigenous environmental defenders are experiencing the devastating effects of militarization to give way to development projects. Indigenous leaders are jailed and killed, while communities are powerless. It’s heartbreaking, but it has also strengthened my commitment to work on human rights and environmental sustainability.
Together with other leaders, we are strengthening our networks and capacities. We are building alliances to protect our rights and the environment. We are campaigning regionally and globally for human rights and sustainable resource management, community-based climate change adaptation and renewable energy. In this way, we are building our resilience.
Indigenous peoples are not the enemies. We are not against development. We are conserving our environment for the future of humanity. But we cannot do this alone. The global community, governments, companies and civil society must act in solidarity, and assume responsibility for realizing sustainable development for all.
A global crisis is unfolding. A Letter from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples4 September 2018, 3:23 am Written by UNSRIP Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
A global crisis is unfolding. The rapid expansion of development projects on indigenous lands without their consent is driving a drastic increase in violence and legal harassment against Indigenous Peoples.
I've been alerted to hundreds of cases of "criminalization" from nearly every corner of the world. These attacks—whether physical or legal—are an attempt to silence Indigenous Peoples voicing their opposition to projects that threaten their livelihoods and cultures.
My new report finds a pattern of abuse, with the private sector often colluding with governments to force Indigenous Peoples from their lands by whatever means necessary to make way for infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and extractive projects.
According to Front Line Defenders, 67 percent of the 312 human rights defenders murdered in 2017 were defending their lands, the environment, or indigenous rights, nearly always in the context of private sector projects. Around 80 percent of killings took place in just four countries: Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
These murders nearly always occur in the context of ongoing threats against entire communities. The first step is typically smear campaigns and hate speech that paint Indigenous Peoples as "obstacles to development"—or in the worst cases, terrorists or thugs.
Then come arrest warrants on trumped-up charges, which are sometimes deliberately left hanging so that communities live under perpetual threat. When indigenous leaders are arrested, they often sit in jail for years awaiting trial. In many of the worst cases, militarism, anti-terrorist legislation, and "states of emergency" are used to justify escalating physical violence.
I myself was put on a list of terrorists by the Philippines government in retaliation for advocating for the Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao, many of whom have been displaced by growing militarization. Although the case against me has been dismissed, there are still many others on the list who have been falsely accused and whose safety and security are under threat, including long-time indigenous advocate Joan Carling.
At the same time that justice systems are wielded as weapons against Indigenous Peoples defending their rights, there is widespread impunity for those who commit violence against Indigenous Peoples.
At the root of this global crisis is systematic racism and the failure of governments to recognize and respect indigenous land rights. Indigenous Peoples and local communities customarily own more than 50 percent of the world's land but only have legally recognized rights to 10 percent. This enables governments to declare them "illegal" on the lands they have lived on and protected for generations.
In spite of incredible risks, Indigenous Peoples continue to speak out. They continue to defend their ways of life, their communities, and the lands and forests all humanity depends on.
It is time for world leaders to listen. They should have known better.
Read the full report here.