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The President of the General Assembly (PGA) announced that the third and final consultation will be held 18-19 August 2014 at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. This consultation will focus on the revised Zero Draft to be distributed ahead of the consultation.


Registration is required to attend. To register, send name of Nation/Organization, name of representative attending and contact information including email to the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues by Wednesday, 13 August 2014: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



In an unprecedented move, the World Bank will be proposing that governments could ‘opt-out’ of requirements designed to protect indigenous peoples from unintended and negative consequences from development activities funded by the multilateral lender. In a leaked draft of new environmental and social standards to be considered for public consultation by a committee of the World Bank Executive Board on 30th of July, language has been included that would allow governments to disregard their existing obligations to indigenous peoples.


When the Bank announced it would be revising these standards (previously contained in an ad hoc set of eight separate policies) Bank management committed to ‘no dilution’ of existing standards. This commitment has been repeated often over the past three years.


However, proposing that governments can ignore international standards on protection of indigenous peoples, and ignore the human rights that underpin those protections, is with out doubt a significant and serious watering down of existing standards.


Joan Carling, Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, noted “it is with deep disappointment and frustration that the World Bank chooses to further discriminate and marginalize indigenous peoples, instead of rectifying its bad legacy with indigenous peoples. Even with the inclusion of the provision for the free prior and informed consent, or FPIC, of indigenous peoples, this is meaningless with the ‘opt-out option’ for borrowers, of which many Asian governments would do as they refuse to legally recognize indigenous peoples in their respective countries. The legal recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples over their lands, territories and resources is not also fully supported, which is a critical element for the protection of indigenous peoples in any development intervention.”


A dangerous aspect of the Bank’s proposal is the precedent it could set for other multilateral finance institutions. The Bank has historically been a leader in developing progressively stronger environmental and social protections, but this latest draft undermines that reputation significantly.


Joji Cariño, Director of the Forest Peoples Programme, commented “Indigenous peoples’ recommendations on the need to strengthen World Bank standards and bring them into line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have fallen on deaf ears. World Bank pledges on ‘no-dilution’ of existing policies are being broken with this proposed opt-out, despite advances made in other substantive areas of the new proposals.”


The real threat if the proposed policies are adopted is the practical and immediate impact that these retrograde standards could have for indigenous peoples living in countries where governments routinely deny them their rights. For many indigenous peoples in Africa and elsewhere, national and regional law is just now beginning to recognise and protect their lands and their livelihoods by applying the laws developed over decades of advocacy.


Indigenous peoples are mobilizing worldwide to demand that the World Bank withdraw the offensive policy proposals. They are calling on the Bank to ensure that the policy revision results in standards that are fully in line with international norms and obligations on the rights of indigenous peoples. At the same time, they are pressing the World Bank President to uphold his promise to prevent any dilution of existing standards.


A statement of concern detailing recommendations for action by the World Bank’s Executive Board has been presented to the World Bank today (July 29, 2014) and endorsed by 84 indigenous peoples’ organizations and institutions, 59 support groups and 20 individuals.


Indigenous Peoples' Statement Provided to the World Bank


For further information on these proposed safeguard standards for indigenous peoples please contact:


Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Robie Halip, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Helen Tugendhat, Forest Peoples Programme, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Press and media inquiries:


James Harvey, Communications Manager, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact number: +44(0)1608 652893


Aung Kyaw Soe, Communications and Development Programme Coordinator, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact number: +66 53 380 168


Additional information:


Forest Peoples Programme’s dedicated World Bank Safeguards page:


AIPP Briefing Paper, “Development for Whom”:


AIPP Submissions to the World Bank:



Letter to the World Bank on their Indigenous Peoples safeguard policy (OP 4.10) and safeguard review process

Recommendation statement of Asia IPs and CSOs for the revision of World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank safeguard policies on Indigenous Peoples

Letter to the World Bank on the conducts of the safeguards review consultations


To: Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE)

World Bank Group


Dear Members,


As you review the draft revised safeguard policies of the World Bank, including the policy provisions for indigenous peoples (ESS7) and decide on the way forward, we would like to raise our serious concerns for your consideration and action.


Contained in the draft ESS are new standards intended to “ensure that the development process fosters full respect for the human rights” of indigenous peoples (proposed ESS7). While we recognize that these standards have been improved in their inclusion of a requirement to obtain free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), the inclusion of an option for borrowing countries to opt-out of applying the policy at all undermines any advances. As currently formulated, the FPIC provisions are also weak and need amendment to be effective and appropriate.


Attached is the statement prepared jointly by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) containing our views and recommendations in improving the draft for the second round of consultations. We have been engaging in the review process since it was launched in 2011 and we hope that the dilutions to the current safeguard policies shall be addressed properly, and the added provisions such as the on the free prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples be strengthened, along with the legal recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and resources.


This statement has been endorsed by 84 indigenous peoples organizations/institutions, 59 support groups and 20 individuals.


Thank you for your attention and we look forward to your action in relation to our recommendations.




Ms. Joan Carling

Secretary General, AIPP

Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


CC: Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President – World Bank; Luis Felipe Duchicela, Adviser on Indigenous Peoples; World Bank Executive Directors


Significant concerns with the proposed World Bank safeguards for indigenous peoples


We have reviewed and considered the advance copy of the new proposed draft World Bank Environmental and Social safeguards (ESP and ESS). We are deeply dismayed by the overall weakening of the policy requirements for indigenous peoples with very serious implications including outright denial of the existence and rights of indigenous peoples under international human rights laws.


Not only are the standards for indigenous peoples (contained in ESS7) still below internationally accepted practice and international human rights law, but further it appears that even the standards in ESS7 will only apply to a minority of projects impacting on indigenous peoples and financed by the World Bank. It is imperative in our view that activities funded by the World Bank, either directly or through financial intermediaries, must be required to meet the same established standards for indigenous peoples. It is simply unacceptable that the implementation of policy requirements for indigenous peoples could be subject for an ‘opt-out’, or that borrowers can use borrower system or national laws that are not aligned to the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples under international human rights instruments.


It is urgent that the following issues be taken into consideration and effectively responded to:


1. Policy requirements to protect the rights of indigenous peoples must be universally applied to all Bank-financed activities impacting on indigenous peoples


1.1 Immediately remove the proposal that governments can simply ‘opt-out’ of applying the policy requirements intended to protect indigenous peoples (ESS7)


According to the draft, the Bank is proposing that borrowers (mainly but not exclusively governments) can request that they not apply Environmental and Social Standard 7 on Indigenous Peoples. Borrowers may request this if they consider that identifying indigenous peoples would, in some way, heighten ethnic tensions or increase conflict, or if recognizing culturally distinct groups is contrary to their national constitutions.[1] This directly and seriously undermines the specific and fundamental rights that indigenous peoples have over their lives, their lands and resources and the course of their own development, as already enshrined in international human rights law.


Encroachment on the lands, resources and territories of indigenous peoples is often undertaken with the implicit or explicit consent of the governments whose decisions often adversely impact on indigenous peoples occupying such lands. Indeed, international legal standards protecting the rights of indigenous peoples exist in part due to the wilful actions of governments in the past to discriminate against, disenfranchise and alienate indigenous peoples from their lands and resources. If the decision on whether international human rights are to be respected or not rests solely with national governments, then the Bank is acting to undermine agreed international human rights standards, protected by UN and regional human rights instruments.


1.2 Need to improve respect for land rights as part of protecting the rights of indigenous peoples in ESS7


The land rights of indigenous peoples have been recognized again and again under international and regional human rights law as fundamental to the very survival of the peoples themselves. Given the importance of this set of rights, it is critical that requirements intended to ensure such rights are protected are clearly formulated. As such, the required ‘plan for legal recognition of … perpetual or long-term renewable custodial or use rights’ must be developed in partnership with the peoples themselves, time-bound, designed against clear indicators and with sufficient budget allowances.


1.3 Inadequate Free, Prior and Informed Consent requirements in ESS7


The inclusion of a requirement for obtaining the free, prior and informed consent is welcomed, but the formulation of such a requirement is of fundamental importance in ensuring that the requirement achieves the objective of ensuring indigenous peoples can exercise their right to self-determination and are full partners in the development process. The formulation currently proposed in paragraphs 18 and 19 fails to achieve this, and the following important amendments are, at a minimum, required:


2.1 Agreements reached with communities must be described and verified by the Bank together with independent experts, including time-bound actions necessary to ensure that agreements are met and clear budget allocations to agreed actions.


2.2 In any case of violation or non-compliance with agreements reached with communities or in cases of violation of the policy requirements in ESS7 there must be a clear and accessible grievance mechanism that affected communities and peoples can access to redress, including but not limited to direct access to the Inspection Panel. Technical support for use of grievance mechanisms and/or the Inspection Panel must be available on request.


2.3 Disclosure of information must be required to be in a language and in forms, which are appropriate to the affected communities and able to be fully understood.


2.4 The involvement of indigenous peoples representative bodies and organisations must specifically include women and other community members in addition to councils of elders, village councils or chieftains (already mentioned).


2.5 Respect for the decision-making processes of indigenous peoples should be mandatory (not ‘where applicable’), must ensure respect for independent, and must ensure that decision-making processes are free from intimidation, manipulation and any form of undue pressure.


1.4 The use of ‘borrower systems’ or national laws allows the ESS requirements to be set aside, without any clear process for determining adequacy.[2]


The new proposals allow borrowers to follow national laws where they ‘materially meet’ the objectives of the standards. This implies a capacity within the Bank to assess not only all relevant national laws and systems but also historical practice against such laws and policies. However, as pointed out by Bank Vice President comments, how such an assessment would be carried out, when and with what budget is unclear.[3]


For ESS7 and requirements for indigenous peoples in particular, this means in effect that national governments can again elect not to apply the requirements for indigenous peoples as established in ESS7 without any recourse available to the affected peoples themselves. Under existing policy as described in OP4.00, the “equivalence” of national laws and processes against Bank safeguards is determined on a policy by policy basis and that “before deciding on the use of borrower systems, the Bank also assesses the acceptability of the Borrower’s implementation practices, track record and capacity”.[4]This does not appear in the new proposals, which also do not allow for indigenous peoples’ inputs into any assessment done nor the decision to set aside the requirements of ESS7 that could result.


Further, there are no specific requirements in assessment of laws relating to the rights and interests of indigenous peoples in particular. Any assessment of such a set of national laws – proposed to be used in replacement of ESS7 – must include assessment of the extent to which a national legal framework for protection of indigenous peoples aligns with international human rights standards and law. This fails to appear in the proposed policy requirements.


1.5 Further loopholes allow borrowers to circumvent requirements


In addition to the loop-holes and opt-outs already described which undermine the content of ESS7 as a standard for Bank-financed activities impacting on indigenous peoples, there are further policy dilutions which mean borrowers can avoid applying ESS7. Critical in this is that the proposed ESS apply ONLY to investment lending, and not to the two other main lending instruments that the Bank has, Programme for Results and Development Policy Loans. Given that (at current levels) half of all Bank funding is channelled through instruments other than Investment Lending, these standards provide no consistency for indigenous peoples impacted by Bank-financed activities.


Furthermore, projects funded by financial intermediaries also need not comply with the environmental and social standards for any sub-project except those of the highest risk category, meaning that the requirements of ESS7 will not be applied to the majority of sub-projects financed through financial intermediaries.[5] Such exclusions are not acceptable as they create discriminatory provisions depending on financial instrument used, and undermine the very concept of universal standards on which environmental and social standards are predicated.


2. Focus on self-reporting and reliance on borrowers to meet standards without appropriate improvements in monitoring skills or requirements


Moving now to broader concerns with the ESS system as a whole, the World Bank’s new commitment to paying attention to implementation is certainly welcome. The Bank to date has a very poor track record in monitoring and supervising the implementation of its projects throughout the project cycle. This has been amply documented by the Bank’s own OED/IEG evaluation reports over the past 20 years, and specifically highlighted in the internal desk review of projects applying OP4.10 on indigenous peoples.


It is not clear how World Bank monitoring will be improved to meet these new responsibilities. For ESS7 World Bank monitoring must be attached to key indicators, involve independent experts and linked to clear, known and enforceable sanctions for failure to comply with requirements, including suspension of funds and compensation for harms suffered. The World Bank has an independent Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Body that should play an important role in monitoring compliance with the established standards for indigenous peoples.


3. Inspection Panel role is unclear and made more difficult


The role and mandate of the Inspection Panel comes into question with the new structure, where requirements for the Bank are largely limited to due diligence and monitoring contained in the proposed World Bank Environment and Social Policy. In the various instances where the ESS are proposed not to apply (for instance where national frameworks are to be applied, or where a financial intermediary is implementing projects with moderate or lower risk category), the role of the Inspection Panel is again unclear.


The new proposed Environment and Social Policy also adopts a large number of phrases that serve to dilute and obfuscate hard commitments or requirements against which the Bank can be held accountable. Phrases such as ‘in a timeframe acceptable to the Bank’, ‘where applicable’, ‘where financially feasible’, ‘materially consistent with objectives’, ‘may’ rather than ‘shall’, all serve to weaken the actual standards against which borrowers are expected to act and to be held accountable, and make the task of the Inspection Panel difficult if not impossible.


4. Failure to incorporate meaningful standards on land tenure governance and failure to apply ESS5 requirements to land titling or land administration projects


Despite commitments received from the President of the World Bank during the consultation period, the new standards on land (incorporated into ESS5 and joining existing standards on involuntary resettlement) do not adhere to the standards already existing in the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Forest and Fisheries. In particular the requirements of ESS5 do not provide sufficient protection from the real (and increasing) threats of large-scale land-grabbing for industrial agriculture specifically mentioned in the Voluntary Guidelines. Further, the exclusion list included in ESS5 (for activities NOT covered by the policy) represents a significant narrowing of the scope of the existing Involuntary Resettlement policy of the World Bank. By excluding land titling and land regularization processes, the Bank risks excluding large scale and long-term impacts of resettlement from the policy designed specifically to address such impacts.


5. Critical information missing from the draft


There are significant gaps in the information being provided for CODE to review. The proposed document for public consultation does not include an implementation plan, any budget references or commitments, no staff skills discussion to account for the changing roles of Banks staff envisioned in the new proposals, and no plan for roll-out of the policy through staff training. It also does not contain any detail about the reforms of staff incentives and safeguard implementation procedures that are required to drastically improve the track record the Bank has on meeting its social and environmental commitments. It is our view that CODE must request the Bank to provide a costed, planned and clear implementation process for the new proposed standards as assessing these in the absence of Bank commitments to appropriately implement them is impossible.


1. ESS7, paragraph 9.

2. This in clear contrast to the Asian Development Bank which has an entire policy dedicated to ensuring that use of country systems both strengthens domestic capacities in environmental and social impact assessment and management, and complies with ADB standards.

3. WB VP Memos, May 2014

4. OP4.00

5. ESS1, paragraph 29.


This statement has been endorsed by the following indigenous peoples organizations/institutions, support groups and individuals.



More than 60 Indigenous Women from Across the World Come Together to Address their Critical Role in Combating Climate Change


Lima, Peru (16 July 2014)—At an international forum on community land and resource rights in Lima today, women from across the world called for inclusion of indigenous women’s perspectives and participation in the dialogue around national and international climate change adaption and mitigation policies.


These recommendations to ensure women’s rights and contributions are recognized were made by more than 60 indigenous women from 15 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America and center on three issues: a) the effective participation of indigenous women and communities in decision-making on climate change policy at the national and international level; b) the collective rights of women to land and forests; and c) the integration of indigenous women’s vision and management of natural resources in public policy.


For too long, women in Peru and around the world have been excluded from decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Historically, governance of land and resources is one of these decisions, with perhaps the most far-reaching and devastating impact,” said Omaira Bolaños, Latin America Regional Program Director of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). “Respecting and incorporating the collective land and resource rights of women is critical to the success of national climate change adaptation strategies, as well as international economic development initiatives. These recommendations provide a way forward for discussions at all levels: within communities, in national legal frameworks, and global dialogues on climate strategies.”


Government officials from the Peruvian Ministries of Women, Environment and Foreign Affairs attended the public portion of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum on July 16, 2014 and each committed to work closely with civil society and indigenous organizations in the lead up to the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima in December to ensure that the recommendations made by participants are considered.


There should be no difference between the access of men and women to their natural resources, and this is particularly important when it comes to land and entitlement,” said Ernesto Reaz, advisor to Manuel Pulgar Vidal, the Peruvian Minister of the Environment and coordinator of civil society engagement at the COP. “We need to ensure our proposals to the COP are grounded in the reality of men and women in the communities.”


Despite the tremendous role women play in the management of its resources and the knowledge they hold to protect and nurture the environment, women often remain the most marginalized and vulnerable group within indigenous communities. For example, forum participants pointed to the risks—like the inability to feed their families or loss of livelihoods—that arise when women’s perspectives and knowledge of the lands and forests are not incorporated in the discussions around their uses and management.


Indigenous women play an undeniable role in conservation and adaptation to climate change because their lives are intertwined with the lands and forests they depend upon,” said Gladis Vila Pihue, President of La Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú (ONAMIAP). “Yet despite the positive comments of the ministry today, my government recently opted to circumvent indigenous rights at exactly the moment they should have been a leader as the host of this year’s COP. Peru should continue championing the effective strategies that indigenous peoples have been using for centuries as a tool for conservation.”


But we are not dismayed,” continued Vila Pihue. “This forum is a good opportunity to articulate our needs and recommendations to the Peruvian government. It is a starting point for ongoing collaboration between all of us—Indigenous, Amazonian and Andean women—and the Peruvian government, and it is our hope that, as a result of this conversation, our perspectives will be embraced as a necessary piece of a Peruvian climate change strategy.”


And this injustice isn’t limited to Peru; it is echoed across the world. In Kenya, where land is often owned collectively by extended families and clans, men generally control the land. Even though women do most of the farming, barely five percent of women have land registered in their name.


In Nepal, land may be transferred from fathers to sons, but not to daughters—unless they remain unmarried after the age of 34. Even though women in Nepal, like in Kenya, do most of the farming, they only own about 10 percent of the landholdings.


Women produce nearly half of the food grown in the developing world and are often first in line to bear the added burden of adapting to climate change, yet very few have recognized rights to show for their contribution,” said Cecile Bibiane Ndjebet, President, African Women's Network for Community Management of Forests (REFACOF) and one of the participants at the International Forum. “Women of the world must unite in the fight for recognition of our rights. Without our wisdom and participation, any measure to protect the world from the havoc threatened by climate change will be derailed. This fight belongs to all of us.”


Participants of the forum developed twelve recommendations for the Peruvian Government to promote at COP 20, including those below:


· Ensure compliance and enforcement of international norms and laws that protect the collective rights of indigenous peoples and women, our right to self-determination and free, prior, and informed consent.


· Prioritize tenure and collective titling of lands and territories to ensure participation of women.


· Review and update legal frameworks to ensure the active, effective and equal participation of indigenous women at all stages and levels of decision-making, administration and representation.


· Create participatory mechanisms to develop, enhance and strengthen the capacity of indigenous women and our organizations, and ensure equal participation in the various decision-making forums.


· Respect and recognize the vision and worldview of our peoples, self-determination of our territories, which have been built over thousands of years, through opportunities for participation in public policy on natural resources and forests.


· Request that States prioritize community-based adaptation in the territories of indigenous peoples and communities with the active participation of women in order to ensure the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity.


· Ensure the participation of indigenous peoples and communities, with gender equity in the design and implementation of the legal and financial mechanisms for climate change policies.


The International Indigenous Women’s Forum: Land and Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities towards COP20,was co-organized by the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Women of Peru (ONAMIAP), the Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP), and the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). The forum was attended by more than 60 indigenous women from 15 countries across Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as issue experts, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the Peruvian government.


# # #

Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI)

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) is a global coalition of 14 Partners and over 140 international, regional and community organizations advancing forest tenure, policy and market reforms. RRI leverages the strategic collaboration and investment of its Partners and Collaborators around the world by working together on research, advocacy, and convening strategic actors to catalyze change on the ground. RRI is coordinated by the Rights and Resources Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit

GENEVA / NEW YORK (21 July 2014) – The new United Nations sustainable development goals must not be a step backwards for indigenous peoples, a group of UN experts* on indigenous peoples has warned today. Their call comes after a meeting held by the open-ended Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals last week in New York to draft a set of goals which will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September.


Indigenous peoples face distinct development challenges, and fare worse in terms of social and economic development than non-indigenous sectors of the population in nearly all of the countries they live in,” they said.


However,” the experts stressed, “they can also contribute significantly to achieving the objectives of sustainable development because of their traditional knowledge systems on natural resource management which have sustained some of the world’s more intact, diverse ecosystems up to the present.”


The group of experts noted with concern that all references to ‘indigenous peoples’ have been deleted in the latest zero draft document on the sustainable development goals, which is currently being discussed by the open-ended Working Group, even though the term had been included in earlier drafts.


Using the term ‘indigenous and local communities’ undermines the gains achieved by indigenous peoples regarding their assertion of their distinct status and identity as peoples and the rights accorded to them under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international instruments,” the experts said.


The term ‘indigenous peoples’ - they noted - has been consistently used in the Johannesburg Declaration of 2012 and the Rio+20 Programme of Action (2012), called ‘The Future We Want’, not to mention a wide range of national constitutions, laws, and policies.


The experts urged UN Member States in the open-ended Working Group to listen to the proposals made by indigenous peoples’ representatives in this process and to ensure that ‘indigenous peoples’ will be used consistently in the outcome document.


It has been widely acknowledged that indigenous peoples have not been accorded the attention they deserve in national development processes and efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” the experts said.


The new Sustainable Development Goals present a unique opportunity to remedy these shortcomings and the historical injustices resulting from racism, discrimination and inequalities long suffered by indigenous peoples across the world,” they underscored.


For the UN experts, the issue of free, prior and informed consent in the Post-2015 Development Agenda must be addressed consistently with the minimum standards established by the UN Declaration. “The Sustainable Development Goals are an opportunity to gain agreement on measurable commitments regarding free, prior and informed consent,” they stated. They also called for the disaggregation of data across all indicators in order to enable a better assessment of the status and conditions of indigenous peoples with regard to the goals.


We urge States to affirm that the human rights-based approach to development should be a key framework in achieving sustainable and equitable development and this should, likewise, be clearly stated in the outcome document of the open-ended Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” the experts concluded.


(*) The experts:

Ms. Dalee Sambo Dorough, the current chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which advises the UN on indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Permanent Forum is made up of sixteen independent experts from all of the world’s regions.

Mr. Albert Deterville, who heads the five-strong Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that provides the UN Human Rights Council with specific studies and research on the rights of indigenous peoples, such as the right to education and the right to participate in decision making.

Ms. Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, the new Special Rapporteur tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with monitoring, reporting and advising on the situation of indigenous peoples’ rights worldwide.

Open Working Group on SDGs 13th Session

16-20 July 2014, United Nations, New York

Statement of the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group


Esteemed Co-chairs, Member States, Major Groups, and representatives of civil society:


We, the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group congratulate and thank the co-chairs for moving this challenging process forward to this point. You have done remarkable work. We note the broad and general acknowledgment of the important role of Indigenous Peoples in the Open Working Group process and the ongoing efforts of various friendly states, major groups and civil society who worked with us to try to ensure our inclusion in the developing SDGs goals, targets and means of implementation.


Recall that Rio + 20 "The Future We Want" Paragraph 49 says:


We stress the importance of the participation of indigenous peoples in the achievement of sustainable development. We also recognize the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of global, regional, national and subnational implementation of sustainable development strategies.”


This began as a hopeful process for us, with the early inclusion of the term “Indigenous Peoples” in numerous SDG goals, targets and means of implementation in the development of the document. Our hopes were further reinforced with his Excellency Ambassador Korosi asking for our trust and assuring our inclusion in the zero draft document during his address to the indigenous delegates of the 13th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2014.


We are not in the chapeau. We are in merely 2 SDG targets. One under Goal 2, where we are referenced as small-scale food producers, and the other under Goal 4 regarding equal access to education and vocational training. All other references over the course of the last year or more to the term “Indigenous Peoples” were a target for deletion.


The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007 and we are now reaching the end of the 2nd International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, yet there still seems to be the need to defend the concept of Indigenous Peoples and our rights among some member states who questioned the relevance of our inclusion in this document.


To reiterate paragraph 49 of Rio + 20 calls for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be the lens through which the SDGs are interpreted and implemented for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples.


We remain concerned that if we are not explicitly and meaningfully referred to in the operative text of the SDGs, that we will encounter immense constraint and exclusion from the implementation and monitoring processes. Our experience with and invisibility within Millennium Development Goals supports this concern. Those goals also claimed be universal. The Indigenous Peoples Major Group advocates for the over 370 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide and we insist those voices to be heard and recognized throughout this document.


We note with appreciation the statement of the director general of Mexico at the close of this meeting. We echo his statement.


You don’t have to turn your back on us. You can still take our hand and include us in the journey of the next 15 years. We can make valuable contributions. Don’t leave us behind.


NOTE: This was supposed to be read by Galina Angarova of Tebtebba on behalf of the IP Major Group during the last day of the final 13th session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable development Goals (OWG-SDG) at the UNHQ, New York. Unfortunately, due to the drawn-out negotiations, she was not able to read this.



Interactive Hearing on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,

June 17 and 18, 2014

(Kieb Ak´aba´l y Oxib K´at)


Moderator of the Interactive Dialogue and Advisor to the President of the General Assembly

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good day

The Global Indigenous Women Caucus, the Indigenous Women International Forum, the Youth Networks, Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA), the Indigenous Women of Mexico and Central America Alliance, affirm that the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document should respect the priorities set in the Alta Document, the Lima Declaration and the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

1. The women of the world reinforce the International Instruments on Human Rights and Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations to make way for their implementation with the full and effective participation of women, youth and indigenous peoples.

2. We recommend that the rights, culture and spiritual values be included into the strategies related to development, including the objectives of sustainable development and the Post 2015 Development Agenda of the United Nations.

3. We recommend that States support Indigenous programs to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous young people, including those on the teaching of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices. As well as those on language teaching and the importance of the role of Indigenous Peoples, including the elderly and women as holders of traditional knowledge.

We also recommend that States and agencies, programs and funds of the United Nations respect and promote the right to free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples regarding our traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

4. We urge States to reaffirm the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom, identity and the imperative recognition of the right to sustainable development. We further urge States to ensure full, equal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in the development of mechanisms to ensure that sustainable development based on ecosystems is equitable, non-discriminatory, inclusive, accountable and transparent.

Furthermore, acknowledging that equality, consent and decolonization are important general issues that protect, recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and are in harmony with the sacredness of Mother Earth.

5. Indigenous Women highlight the need for higher quality education that involves the teaching of our ancestral and traditional knowledge alongside universal learning strategies. We recognize the importance of better education for girls and women in all walks of life. The social and economic effects will ensure a better life, especially concerning the health of indigenous women.

6. Indigenous peoples demand a paradigmatic rethinking of the goodlife, the fullness of life,palu-wala and comprehensive peace. We propose a re-evaluation and the making of a new, joint, sustainable and redistributive economic model, as opposed to companies that turn nature and its resources into business.

7. In order to ensure the sustainability of the programs the reciprocal exchange of resources is important, including resources of indigenous organizations such as materials resources, ancestral knowledge, spiritual knowledge, time and space. Also, any program aimed to achieve the MDG’s and the Post 2015 Agenda should include a territorial and collective approach, including the environment or Mother Earth and be based on the notion of the good life, have an intercultural approach, and be rights-focused. The participation of communities in the management of resources is a tangible example of sustainability.

8. We Women remind the States and the United Nations System the Cairo+20, Beijing+20, Rio+20 and the MDG’s since in many cases they did not have the expected positive impact in relation to the development of indigenous women.




After the 13th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN-NGLS interviewed Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the recently appointed Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, on her priorities as Special Rapporteur and her reflections on the outcomes of the Permanent Forum.

UN-NGLS: As Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, what are some of the main challenges you will face? What are some of your top priorities?

My top priorities include looking at the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. This means investigating and understanding what the obstacles are to their enjoyment of these rights and making recommendations on what can be done by nation-states, and also by third parties like corporations. I would also like to monitor how environmental conventions like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are respecting and promoting the decisions made which are directly relevant to indigenous peoples. For example, how REDD+ safeguards contained in Decision 1/CP.16 of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties held in Cancun, are being addressed and reported; and for the CBD, to monitor the implementation of Article 8J on Traditional Knowledge, Innovations and Practices and other related articles, as well as progress on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and associated indicators on traditional knowledge. I believe that economic empowerment of indigenous peoples is necessary for their political empowerment and for as long as they are kept in impoverished situations, their lives will not improve, even with all the policies and laws at global and national levels on indigenous peoples’ rights.

UN-NGLS: What is needed to ensure States more effectively implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and respect, protect and fulfil all human rights?

Indigenous peoples should be able to monitor and report effectively on how their rights are not being protected, respected and fulfilled. They should be provided technical, political and financial resources to monitor how States and corporations are performing in this area. UN mechanisms and Treaty Bodies, as well as other multilateral initiatives to monitor respect for indigenous peoples’ human rights should be popularized; information should be disseminated widely about what they do and how indigenous peoples can use them to get their rights respected. UN agencies, programmes and funds, human rights NGOs and academics, as well as other civil society organizations should work closely with indigenous peoples to support them in their struggle for their rights, enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They should also be supported to get redress for the injustices they suffer through provision of pro-bono legal support, among other measures.

UN-NGLS: What is your evaluation of UN system engagement with indigenous peoples thus far in the processes to define the post-2015 sustainable development agenda? What are your recommendations for strengthening this engagement?

I think there is still a long way to go to the get the post-2015 development agenda to integrate the issues of indigenous peoples. My organization, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education) has actively been working on a daily basis to bring the proposals of indigenous peoples to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG on SDGs) and we are very disappointed with the Outcome Documents that have come out so far. Instead of recognizing indigenous peoples as distinct peoples who have something to contribute to sustainable development, we are being lumped in with marginalized and vulnerable groups. There are even attempts to retreat back in labeling us as “indigenous and local communities.” If we do not mobilize to stop this, we are back into being identified as such. We fought long and hard to get the United Nations to recognize us as “indigenous peoples” so we cannot accept this trend we see in the post-2015 agenda and the OWG on SDGs where we become marginalized and vulnerable groups. We are not denying that many of us are also marginalized and vulnerable but we are peoples with distinct identities, cultures and rights recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Johannesburg Political Declaration, which was adopted by Heads of States, clearly says “indigenous peoples.” So there is no reason for some States not to recognize this. I think this is a violation of our basic rights to identify who we are and claim our rights contained in international human rights law.

UN-NGLS: How will your work address the intersections between human rights and sustainable development?

Human rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable. Rights to water, to food, to development, to culture and identity, among others are also our rights. For us the intersections between human rights and sustainable development are very clear. Thus, as a Special Rapporteur I will try my best to connect human rights with sustainable development and to look at the most important processes that are defining the next global development agenda. When the Millennium Development Goals were made, there was no reference to indigenous peoples, even though Agenda 21 (adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, 1992) and the WSSD Program of Action, among others, already included us. Indigenous peoples are the focus of Chapter 26 of Agenda 21, and the Rio Declaration and Johannesburg Political Declaration mentioned us as key actors in contributing to sustainable development. States and the UN bodies, agencies, programmes and funds need to make more conscious efforts to play their roles in promoting indigenous peoples’ rights and contributions to sustainable development. I think it is also crucial that all of us continue to remind States that the human rights approach to development has to be implemented if we want sustainable development to be realized.

UN-NGLS: Good governance was the special theme of this year’s session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. What were some of the key recommendations for ensuring that indigenous peoples can maintain and improve their individual and collective well-being? What are your reflections on the outcomes of the Permanent Forum?

The work of indigenous peoples to define goals, targets and indicators for indigenous peoples’ well-being, and for development with culture and identity, should be recognized and integrated in the post-2015 development agenda, as well as in other decisions taken by human rights bodies and environment and development bodies. Good governance is a key area that can promote the individual and collective well-being of indigenous peoples. It can ensure better protection and promotion of the rights and operationalization of development with culture and identity of indigenous peoples. We, within Tebtebba and our partners from various parts of the world, call this Indigenous Peoples’ Sustainable, Self-Determined Development.

Good governance for us means ensuring our full and effective participation in decision-making and implementation processes at the local, national, regional and global levels. It means obtaining our free, prior and informed consent when any development project is planned and implemented in our territories. It means respecting our customary laws and governance systems, which are consistent with international human rights standards. It also means leveling the playing field in electoral politics so that there will be a chance for indigenous representatives to become government officials and members of parliament.

Good governance also means States and corporations are accountable and transparent in terms of what they are deciding about and doing in indigenous peoples’ territories. Good governance means States are complying with their human rights obligations and obligations to environmental conventions, especially those which directly relate to indigenous peoples. Good governance means supporting work of indigenous women to empower themselves and also youth to learn more about their peoples’ values, cultures and visions. The role of elders in governance systems should also be respected.

In relation to the outcomes of the recent session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, I think they were able to come up with recommendations which will further strengthen the possibilities for indigenous peoples to pursue their economic, social, cultural and civil and political rights at the country level. There were clear recommendations for some UN agencies, programmes and funds on how they can enhance further their work to support indigenous peoples. For instance, the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) practice of allowing for better indigenous peoples’ participation was highlighted (such as their establishment of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum), and other UN agencies and funds are encouraged to follow suit.

I was disappointed, though, when the members of the Forum just noted the Expert Group Meeting on Sexual and Reproductive Health. I think they can do better than that. They should welcome this report, as it is their own Expert Group Meeting, and support fully the recommendations that emerged from this process. Violence against indigenous women and girls, discrimination against indigenous women, high rates of maternal mortality, poor access to health services, especially reproductive health services, still remain as major problems for indigenous women. These are the things addressed in that workshop and it is an imperative that the members of the Forum accept all these and support it.

Better coordination and complementarity between the three mechanisms in the UN dealing with indigenous peoples also has to be ensured. The decision to hold meetings to talk about this is good.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz is an indigenous activist and Founder and Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education). She has extensive experience working with governments, civil society actors and in multilateral bodies, including participating in the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She has lectured and provided training on international human rights law, indigenous peoples’ rights, women’s rights and climate change, and convened various global and regional networks on these subjects. She served as the Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005-2010) and chair of the Board of Trustees for the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations (1995-2005).

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NEW DELHI: Tribal women leaders from cross cultural and geographical boundaries gathered in the capital to reflect on growing violence against tribal women.

In a national Workshop on “The Situation of Tribal Women in India”, held at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, they discussed on common issues such as discrimination on the basis of their gender and ethnicity, forced displacement, depletion of their natural environment and resources, loss of territories, militarization, maoist violence, trafficking and migration, poverty and denial of socio-cultural rights etc.

Joan Carling, General Secretary of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand, who is also a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) emphasized on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the obligation of states to respect and protect of these rights, including by taking legal measure and implementing programmes to ensure the recognition and enforcement of their rights and for the non-discrimination of tribal people and women in general. There are various policies and guidelines on the promotion, protection and dignity of tribal people’s rights and tribal women’s rights issued by different bodies and mechanisms at the international level like the UN agencies, the World Bank and Asia Development Bank etc. In spite of these gains the ground reality shows a different picture in India. Rights of tribal women are still violated and they have least access to appropriate education, health & infrastructures to support their sustainable livelihood.

Speaking on the situation of tribal domestic workers and trafficking in Delhi, Advocate and Secretary of the Labour Commission said that she alone had handled more than 700 cases of trafficking and rape of young tribal women.

Noted Activists, C K Janu from Kerala, Dr Gina (Manipur), Kheshli (Nagaland), Elina Horo (Jharkhand), Beronica Dung Dung (Odisha) & Mamta Kujur (Chhattisgarh) & other emphasized on the need to have a singular platform where tribal women from all the regions can raise their combined voice and strengthen the tribal women’s movement.

Dr Charuwali Khanna, women rights lawyer and member of National Commission for Women called for recommendations on the study of Women and Land Rights.

Rights of Indigenous Women from CEDAW Perspective

11th June 2012

NEW DELHI: On 2nd day of “National Consultation on the Situation of Tribal Women in India”, at Indian Social Institute, Delhi the tribal women leaders reflected on ensuring rights of Indigenous/Tribal women through UN Mechanism, Convention on Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as India is signatory.

Madhu Mehra, Executive Director of Partners for Law and Development, Delhi briefed the mechanism of CEDAW and its relevance in addressing the issues of tribal women on discrimination and violence related to Domestic violence, Trafficking, Exploitation, Prostitution, Political and Public Life, international representation, Nationality & Identity, Education & Health Care, Social & Economic Rights, Equality Before Law, Social Evil Practices such as witch hunting, child marriage, human sacrifice, honour killings etc.

On the above issues, participants from more than 40 organizations made important recommendations that will be included in the final Shadow report which will be submitted to the CEDAW Committee on behalf of the Inter State Adivasi Women’s Network (ISAWN) and Indigenous Women’s Forum of North East India (IWFNEI). During the 58th Session of the CEDAW, the committee will review India’s progress on implementation and its obligations on 2nd June, 2014.

Source: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

We indigenous women should not look at ourselves as mere victims. We are also decision makers, leaders and we have the power to be agents of change’

Our Correspondent
New Delhi | June 11

Around eight percent of India’s population consists of Indigenous People, out of which indigenous women make up half of the eight per cent population. The key issues and problems that indigenous women face today are numerous, ranging from poverty to sex trafficking, from displacement to increased workload and from denial of basic health services to the lack of education. 

These core issues were discussed and debated during the ‘National Consultation on the Situation of Indigenous Women: Ways Forward’ which is being held in Delhi at the Indian Social Institute (ISI) from June 10 to 12. An initiative of Indigenous Women Forum of North East India (IWFNEI) and Inter State Adivasi Women’s Network and supported by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the national consultation is a first of its kind, where Indigenous women groups from all parts of the country have converged to participate and discuss ways forward for the Indigenous women in India.

We indigenous women should not look at ourselves as mere victims. We are also decision makers, leaders and we have the power to be agents of change,” said Joan Carling, Secretary General, AIPP and expert member, United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). She presented the key note address, where she stated that despite major achievements to recognize the historical injustice committed against Indigenous People (IP), the reality in the ground shows a different picture. IPs are still part of the poorest of the poor. “Our land and resources are taken away as if we do not exist at all. The multiple discrimination against indigenous women is on the rise especially in sex trafficking and violence against women. However despite of these grim realities, the women are fighting for the violations against women and protecting their land,” she added. Carling urged the women on the need to act as one, understand issues that affects all and engage with the government and others to demand their rights and strengthen solidarity and cooperation. Carling also asserted that she remained inspired not by global leaders but ordinary people who continue to selflessly work for their people.

Key issues of Indigenous Women in Central India, North India, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the North East were first discussed which was followed by a panel discussion on the issues of land, territories and resource and its impact on Indigenous Women. Further discussions on violence against women and challenges, lessons learned and good practices were held.

The possibilities and opportunities for the advancement of IW was discussed by Charuwali Khanna, member, National Women commission. Khanna stated that the consultation program is a good opportunity to find a solution for common problems and to strengthen the skills and capabilities of Indigenous women. Khanna also pointed out that indigenous women have special needs (they have been displaced and that displacement has often lead to violence) and their problems need to be tackled differently. On being asked on the issue of racial discrimination, Khanna asserted that intolerance in India is increasing and this needs to be stopped. Khanna stated that the first step is to inculcate constitutional values among children in the education system from the basic level.

Through this consultation program we expect all Indigenous women in India to come together, to connect with each other and get to know each other’s issues,” said Elina Horo, Coordinator of the Adivasi Women’s Network while adding that mainland India does not have much idea about indigenous people’s issues and problems and often national policies are made without taking the IP issues in consideration, where IP and especially women are affected the most.

Around 20 Indigenous groups from Central India, South India, North India and the North East are participating in the national consultation program. The outcome of the forum will be sent to the CEDAW committee for relevant mechanisms on land rights and issues on violence against women.