Posts Tagged ‘Indigenous Rights’


Finding Innovation in Traditional Values


FREDERICKSBURG, Va., Sept. 10, 2015 – Rebecca Adamson’s TEDMED talk released online today. You can join her for an empowering insight into Indigenous perspectives on our economy and the experiences of living in Indian Country from the TEDMED stage. Adamson’s talk is titled “finding innovation in traditional values” and you can listen by clicking here.

Adamson, a globally recognized advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, shares how indigenous principles can inform culturally appropriate, values-driven approaches to development that contribute to sustainable health.

She was the founder of the First Nations Development Institute, First Peoples Worldwide and a globally recognized advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. In her talk she shares how culturally appropriate, values-driven, sustainable development based on Indigenous principles contributes to a new concept of health.

To schedule an interview with Rebecca Adamson or for media inquires, please email or contact Nick Pelosi at First Peoples Worldwide at (540) 899-6545.

Follow First Peoples Worldwide at Twitter via @firstpeoples or like us on Facebook at First Peoples Worldwide.


Learn more about First Peoples Worldwide at

Learn more about TEDMED Speaker Rebecca Adamson here.

Source: TedMed


Saami vs. Metsähallitus: The Case for Corporate Recognition of Indigenous Rights

Reposted from Cultural Survival Quarterly 39-1 Upholding Indigenous Rights Is Good Business (March 2015)

by Emily Sanders

Logging of the forest area in Paadarskaidi in northern Finland by Metsähallitus posed a major threat to reindeer herding, which is central to Saami culture. Photo by Dutchbaby.

Logging of the forest area in Paadarskaidi in northern Finland by Metsähallitus posed a major threat to reindeer herding, which is central to Saami culture. Photo by Dutchbaby.

Successful negotiation between Indigenous Peoples and profit-driven corporations requires copious diligence and time. The Saami reindeer herders of Finland campaigned exhaustively for eight years to achieve protection of their homeland’s ancient pine forests. The eventual preservation of 80 percent of demarcated herding lands in 2010 remains a landmark accomplishment and precedent-setting example for Indigenous communities seeking corporate recognition of their established rights.

The only Indigenous people of northern Europe, the Saami have always maintained traditional reindeer herding as the central aspect of their culture. The free migration of grazing reindeer between cooperatively owned pastures takes place on Saami occupied land, 90 percent of which is owned by the government of Finland. In 2003 concerned Saami communities, along with Greenpeace, marked forest area crucial for herders. The land contains pine trees up to 500 years old, which act as an incomparably efficient carbon sink, and houses tremendous biodiversity including many endangered species.

These once prolific, culturally cherished old growth forests were intensively clear-cut and siphoned off to paper and pulp mills primarily owned by Metsähallitus, Finland’s industrial forestry service, which relied on this domestic timber source for 75 percent of its production. Finland contains just 0.5 percent of the world’s forests; the remaining 5 percent of its old growth forests are primarily used by Indigenous Peoples.

Metsähallitus’ unsustainable management practices, in conjunction with the government’s lax enforcement of legislation that would have preserved the old growth forests, posed a grave threat to Saami herders whose culture depended on close interaction with the forest ecosystem. Disregarding the area’s status as High Conservation Value Forests, Metsähallitus regularly practiced invasive clear-cutting and converted ancient forests to pine and spruce monocultures.

Despite international human rights mechanisms such as Articles 13, 14, and 15 of ILO 169, which specifically protect the land rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Finland’s Reindeer Husbandry Act of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which states that the land “may not be used in a manner that may significantly hinder reindeer herding,” Saami herders found their livelihood strained.

By ignoring Saami rights in favor of maximum profit, Metsähallitus’ unchecked logging resulted in the disruption of traditional pasture cycles, decimation of the central winter food source of hanging horsetail lichen for grazing reindeer, and according to assessments published by the Finnish Environmental Institute and Red Data Book for Finland, the endangerment of 70 percent of national forest habitat types and the near extinction of countless forest species. The government and the corporation repeatedly denied Saami requests for proper protection and demarcation of their vital forests in northern Lapland, failing to implement the already weak conservation standards of Finland’s Forest Act. Instead, Metsähallitus was merely asked to “collaborate” with reindeer herders—a process that was reportedly limited to informing cooperatives of when and where logging would occur, with no enforced obligation to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent before the clear-cutting.

Absent the promise of negotiation, Saami herders found themselves fighting an uphill battle against a corrupt conflict of interests: the majority of the logs cut by Metsähallitus were purchased by StoraEnso, a European paper supplier whose largest shareholder is the government of Finland. But the Saami were not alone in their struggle to reclaim their land. With help from Greenpeace and the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, reindeer herders and the Saami Council mapped out areas that required preservation in order for herding to continue.

Mattias Åhrén, Chief lawyer for the Saami Council, credits Greenpeace’s assistance for the campaign’s success. “They put up a camp in the area and basically tried to stop the logging activities physically by placing themselves between forest machines and the forest. This camp was then harassed by the timber workers there, the employees of Metsähallitus. So of course, this conflict attracted media,” Åhrén said. Metsähallitus continued to deny Saami appeals to suspend logging pending the investigation of their practices, so eventually the UN Human Rights Committee was engaged to exert pressure on Finland. In 2004, the Finnish government was encouraged by the Human Rights Committee to negotiate with the Saami people and to “swiftly take decisive action to agree to an appropriate solution to the land dispute with due regard for the need to preserve the Saami identity.”

During this time, three reindeer herders from the village of Nellim began preparing a lawsuit against Metsähallitus and the Saami Council took critical action to inform StoraEnso’s consumers of the dispute. “We analyzed StoraEnso’s customers and addressed them, particularly in Central Europe and Germany, and basically [told them] that StoraEnso was purchasing timber that had been cut in violation of the human rights of those reindeer herders that use the area and requested that they should not buy any products from StoraEnso. We also contacted larger states in Europe, and that resulted in the UK sending their parliamentary committee to Helsinki to meet with us to see whether the public in the UK should stop purchasing StoraEnso’s products,” Åhrén said.

These actions prompted waves of demonstrations in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy, with consumers refusing to accept StoraEnso’s unjust business practices. In 2005, the lawsuit against Metsähallitus by Saami people from Nellim was settled temporarily by the UN Human Rights Committee through a logging moratorium. Even still, StoraEnso and its Forest Steward Council certifier refused to meet with the Saami Council and relevant NGOs before carrying out audits. In June 2006, StoraEnso released a finalized risk assessment claiming that with regard to FSC wood standards, Finland should be considered “low risk” and that disruption of the Saami homeland “does not concern the district.”

It was Åhrén’s belief that the biggest motivator for consumers to boycott a product is becoming aware that a corporation has evaded a commitment to conducting business in ethical ways—in this case, by violating Indigenous rights. “We addressed these ethical indexes because StoraEnso was listed on a number of those, and basically said that StoraEnso should be de-listed because of these activities. A couple of these [indexes] initiated research and started to investigate the situation, and contacted StoraEnso saying that they were now subject to these investigations,” Åhrén said.

Prior to the resolution of the lawsuits pending before the Human Rights Committee, StoraEnso, under intensifying pressure from dissatisfied consumers, announced in 2006 that it would no longer purchase any timber coming from disputed areas like Nellim. “It was quite effective,” said Åhrén of this victory. “When these corporations started to investigate StoraEnso they got really nervous, because if they should be de-listed from these indexes they would lose a large base of their investors, which would result in stock prices to fall.”

From 2009 to 2010, Saami reindeer herding cooperatives entered into negotiations with Metsähallitus to establish protection for forests important to traditional herding. Ultimately, out of the original 1,070 square kilometers of land mapped out in 2003, approximately 800 were designated off-limits from forestry either permanently or for the next 20 years. “We have had other campaigns, but none as large as Metsähallitus and StoraEnso,” said Åhrén. “It is difficult resource-wise to pursue these types of campaigns. You have to really pick your fight, pick the symbolic ones. Take those that might then be used as precedents, otherwise you will have way too much work to handle.”

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.


Corporations and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Advancing the Struggle for Protection, Recognition, and Redress at the Third UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Reposted from Cultural Survival Quarterly 39-1 Upholding Indigenous Rights Is Good Business (March 2015)

By Andrea Carmen

In 1990, the UN Global Consultation on the Right to Development declared that “the most destructive and prevalent abuses of Indigenous rights are the direct consequences of development strategies that fail to respect their fundamental right of self-determination.” Twenty-five years later, notwithstanding historic progress in the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the international arena (most notably the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), this statement still defines the reality for the majority of Indigenous Peoples.


Today, the survival of Indigenous Peoples around the world continues to be threatened by corporate activity. This includes mining, oil drilling, damming, deforestation, toxic pesticides, proliferation by agribusiness, water privatization and appropriation, and a range of other activities carried out on or near Indigenous Peoples’ lands without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent. These activities are often undertaken in violation of legally binding treaties and agreements. They desecrate sacred places, undermine food sovereignty and traditional livelihoods, and jeopardize community and reproductive health with little regard for violations of these and other individual and collective human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and other Indigenous organizations are engaged in the work of Special Representative John Ruggie, who was appointed by the UN Secretary General “to identify and clarify standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights.” IITC has made several submissions urging the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples to ensure that their perspectives and experiences would be taken into account. IITC has also consistently underscored the vital importance of the Declaration as a framework for upholding Indigenous rights.

In June 2011 the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution unanimously endorsing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights implementing the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework proposed by Ruggie. This framework provided a global standard for preventing human rights impacts of business activity and providing remedies for victims. The Guiding Principles are organized under three pillars: the State’s duty to protect human rights; corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for greater access to remedy for victims of business-related abuse.

The UN Working Group

In addition to adopting the Guiding Principles, the Human Rights Council established a UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to carry out studies and oversee implementation at the country level. Along with issue-based studies and country visits, the Working Group organizes annual Human Rights and Business Forums where States, UN agencies, NGOs, and Indigenous Peoples review good (and bad) practices, present strategies for effective implementation, and highlight areas of ongoing concern.

The responsibility of States to be accountable for human rights violations caused by the corporations they license and the duty of corporations to respect human rights are relatively new and evolving human rights concepts. However, even before the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were adopted in 2011, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the treaty monitoring body for the international convention of the same name, affirmed that both Canada and the United States are obligated to prevent human rights violations in Indigenous communities around the world by corporations licensed in either country. The continued lack of compliance by the US with this recommendation from the Committee was addressed when the US was reviewed again in 2013. The Committee made similar observations addressing the responsibility of Canada, in particular regarding the activities of Canadian mining companies carrying out activities that violated the rights of Indigenous Peoples outside the country in both 2007 and 2012.

Indigenous Peoples’ Participation in UN Forums on Business and Human Rights

From its first session in 2012, the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights has recognized that Indigenous Peoples around the world suffer from adverse impacts of corporate activity resulting in violation of a wide range of their individual and collective rights. At all three sessions of the Forum to date, Indigenous Peoples have been a key focus, although there is still no formal mechanism or permanent agenda item, as requested by Indigenous Peoples, to ensure their formal participation and full inclusion in future sessions. Chief Wilton Littlechild, Chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples addressed the first session in 2012, and the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, were panelists at the second and third sessions. One of the Working Group’s first activities was a groundbreaking study exploring the challenges faced in addressing “adverse impacts of business-related activities on the rights of Indigenous Peoples through the lens of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

Specific concerns raised by IITC at the third Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights held December 1–3, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the continued production and export by US corporations of highly restricted and unregulated pesticides banned for use in the US. This practice, permitted by current US laws, has had devastating, well-documented human rights consequences, including undermining reproductive health and causing over 25 documented deaths in Yaqui Indian communities in northern Mexico. IITC presented this concern in a side event organized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and was invited to submit this issue for the Committee’s country review of Mexico in May 2015.

The United States’ National Action Plan

A key mechanism for implementation and a central focus of discussion at the most recent Forum is the development of National Action Plans by UN member states to promote implementation of the Guiding Principles. On January 14, IITC sent a written contribution to the US State Department for the development of its own National Action Plan, which was announced by President Obama in September 2014. It is targeted for completion, after a series of consultations around the country, by the end of 2015. The first consultation was held in New York City on December 15; upcoming sessions are planned for Oklahoma, California, and Washington, D.C. in February and March 2015.

IITC’s submission followed up on issues raised during reviews of the US in 2014 highlighting corporate activities impacting the rights of Indigenous Peoples in and out of the country. These include laws allowing the manufacture and export of pesticides from the US that have been banned or deregulated in the US; violations resulting from corporate activities that cause the destruction, desecration, and contamination of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred and ceremonial sites, areas, and landscapes, including many located on what are now federal lands and in areas recognized as belonging to Indigenous nations under their ratified Treaties with the US; and lack of US compliance and implementation of the provisions and rights affirmed in its human rights obligations and commitments.

World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

AThe Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly, also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, further underscored UN member states’ commitments to uphold the rights affirmed in the Declaration. The Outcome Document adopted on September 22, 2014, included a commitment to the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent related to development activities. Based on the UN Guiding Principles Business and Human Rights, as well as the Concluding Observations of UN Treaty Bodies and the commitments made by States (including the US) in the outcome document, IITC made several recommendations to the US State Department urging the use of rights affirmed in the Declaration, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

IITC also urged that the national action plan affirm the rights contained in the World Conference outcome document to Free, Prior and Informed Consent; that the plan uphold the rights affirmed in the nation-to-nation treaties it concluded with Indigenous nations to interpret and guide its implementation of the UN Principles on Human Rights and Business; that it incorporate and implement the recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Covenant on Civil and Political Rights treaty bodies with regard to the protection of Indigenous Peoples’ sacred areas, sites, and landscapes; and that it include a commitment to take immediate steps to halt the production and export of pesticides and other toxic chemicals that have been banned for use in the United States.

Although these recommendations are directed specifically to the US, similar recommendations can be made to other member states where corporate and business activities impact the rights and survival of Indigenous Peoples. The devastating effects of business and corporate activities upon the rights of Indigenous Peoples, their health, lands and territories, cultures, and ways of life, cannot be minimized. Neither can the responsibility or accountability of member states.

Read the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights here:

Andrea Carmen is the executive director of International Indian Treaty Council, an Indigenous Peoples organization with General Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Since 1972 Cultural Survival has been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supporting Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.


How We Make Progress, How We Have Change: Rebecca Adamson

Reposted from the Cultural Survival Quarterly

By Agnes Portalewska


Her voice reflects her passion. Her work reflects her commitment. Her legacy is an inspiration for many. Rebecca Adamson (Cherokee) is a businessperson and Indigenous rights advocate. She is the former director, president, and founder of First Nations Development Institute and the founder of First Peoples Worldwide. Born to a Swedish-American father and a Cherokee mother, Adamson grew up in Akron, Ohio and spent summers with her Cherokee grandmother in North Carolina. Reflecting on these early years, she says, “My journey and my vision has been driven by knowing we could solve our own problems and really wanting to listen to the ways our cultures helped us and supported our problem solving.”

Early in her career Adamson was hired by the coalition of five Indian Controlled Schools in the country. As she tells it, “the schools sued [then-President] Nixon to release the Title IV Indian Education funds. Title IV provided funds for parental involvement, among other things.” With the release of that money, the Coalition of Indian Controlled Schools were able to help tribes start their own schools. “All of this dovetailed into the Indian Education Self Determination Act. After they won and then they hired me, and I got to work in our communities, and it was amazing.” She also worked to get the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 passed, giving tribes authority for how they administered the funds.

Adamson’s background was in philosophy, a field she entered with “an undying belief that as Indigenous Peoples, we needed our own models. People constantly look at our systems and they talk about them being quaint. We get pushed back on two things: one is that the principles that I call ‘fundamental design principles’ are called romantic notions in Western thinking. But then they get caught up thinking that we’re saying individual Indians are better than individual Westerners. Both of those are just wrong. We [have] built systems that actually incentivize the good behavior.”

Later, as she pursued a graduate degree in economics and “began really looking into the finances of it,” she says, “what really hit me was how all the models that we were taking out into our communities carried Western values—they weren’t our values. So I thought if we had a development process that really listened and brought the technical and the resources together with the brilliant thinking and problemsolving of Indigenous peoples, we would get new models.” This is how the idea for First Nations Development Institute was born in 1980.

Initially, the primary purpose of First Nations Development Institute was to create a development process for Native people to do their own problem solving. The Institute created the land consolidation model, the tribal investment model, marketing, arts, food sovereignty, traditional food processes, agriculture, and the first micro-loan fund in the United States. The first 15 years were devoted to exploring Indigenous economics domestically, and the Institute began global outreach in 1994. Their first international field project grew into First Peoples Worldwide.

Since 2007, First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund has awarded nearly $1.5 million to Indigenous communities around the world representing 427 Indigenous groups in 53 countries. “Making that international transition has been extremely rewarding,” Adamson says. “It is magnitudes more difficult, more violent, and more discriminatory internationally, with what other Indigenous groups are facing. The grants are really what bring the energy and excitement and the heartbeat into our work.” She adds that the fund has supported projects that are “really struggling in dealing with huge global corporations and the pressure of being surrounded by the extractive industries and the governments that want the resources. In those cases we may be the only funder out there that is funding our communities to make their own decisions. One-third of our grantmaking portfolio had never had funding before. So we’re building those links back up to national and international groups so that we build that political machinery, bit by bit.”

For Adamson, getting corporations and governments to respect Indigenous rights requires a multipronged approach. “In the long run I think the activist groups keep the heat on. Social media has absolutely been bringing attention to it. If corporations want to manage by headlines, we’ve got to get them headlines. The activist groups are doing good work on that. Legal and rights groups are trying to get legal precedents set. What hasn’t really been approached in all this is the market. That’s why First Peoples Worldwide did the Indigenous Rights Risk Report (see page 14), to try to get one more strategic tool out there that we could all use. I think it really will bring more power and augment what we’ve already got underway,” she says.

Forward progress, however, isn’t always linear: “We don’t have a silver bullet anywhere. We could win a court case and the government decides not to uphold it. We could win an activist and media campaign, and as soon as the headlines die down they turn around and do it again. We make progress and then we slide back. [But] that is how we make progress and that is how we have change. “

After concluding its risk assessment of US-based extractive companies, First Peoples Worldwide is now turning its attention to Canada; Adamson estimates that about 70 percent of the global equity capital financing oil, gas, and mining comes from the Canadian exchange. “What we hope to do is bring the Indigenous groups in areas where we’re researching together with the other groups in the areas we’ve already researched. That’s the idea, to really start sharing this information among ourselves,” she says.

To aid in this information sharing, First Peoples Worldwide is currently developing curriculum on shareholder advocacy and planning to organize Indigenous shareholder advocacy leadership training centers in Indigenous areas where resource extraction is rampant. “We are organizing these centers so that our people in those places have the accountability they need to really negotiate and control their destinies with these corporations and with the government,” she explains.

Getting resources and information to the grassroots is a must for Adamson. “Real successes have been primarily [achieved] by us, by Indigenous people. We’ve got thousands of grassroots groups out there, and we need to be able to link them with the international and national groups. We have an ability to build the political machinery globally that we need to achieve change. We need more local capacity. Funders right now tend to build somebody else’s capacity, to study us, to work for us, to be an intermediary with us, but never fund us.” She cites the adoption of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as a prime example: “We saw hundreds of thousands of dollars going out to non-Indigenous groups to do FPIC studies. The Indigenous groups are the ones having to figure out how to implement it, and yet all of the resources went to other folks to study us in doing it.”

Adamson believes that Canada, at the epicenter of so many protests and recent controversies around FPIC and Indigenous rights, “is really the microcosm of all of this. What the First Nations have made [Prime Minister] Harper’s administration understand is they can stop his resource development agenda.” She also points to the Amazon region, which “has had the lowest bids on concessions in its history,” a cause she attributes directly to protests and work stoppages. “We can stop the production and the extraction of these resources and get heard, but it’s a path that could lead to violence, which in many cases has been a struggle for our lives,” she says.

As the First Peoples’ risk report illustrates, in-country risk is one of the biggest drivers of corporate risk. “Corporations want to go to where there’s the least risk, and if it’s working with us, we can be at the table directing the government to title our land, uphold our rights,” Adamson says. “We are finding out through the risk report that it’s good business when countries uphold Indigenous rights. My hope is that we can get the results into the market quicker; that we can prove that countries that want economic performance have to uphold our rights to get it, and companies that want profit have to uphold our rights to get the profit. We’ve got to get that message out more and more.”

Cultural Survival helps Indigenous Peoples around the world defend their lands, languages, and cultures as they deal with issues like the one you’ve just read about. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here. To read more articles on the subject use our Search function and explore 40 years of information on Indigenous issues.


Why the World Bank’s New Environmental and Social Safeguards Are A Step Back for Indigenous Peoples

In response to the World Bank’s release of their new Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS) draft in July 2014, 360 civil society organizations issued a statement of objection to the draft, as it fell far short of the rules needed to protect the environment and respect the rights of affected communities, workers, and indigenous peoples. Below is excerpted commentary on the ESS draft by the Bank Information Center (BIC), an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization that advocates for the protection of rights, participation, transparency, and public accountability in the governance and operations of the World Bank Group.

The draft Environmental and Social Framework…

Undermines the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Allowing borrowers to “opt out” of implementing the proposed Indigenous Peoples standard would directly undermine successive and hard-fought battles by indigenous peoples at the national, regional and international levels to have their rights recognized and respected, and thus contradict their rights to self-determination and collective ownership of lands, territories and resources. This would constitute a massive dilution of current World Bank safeguard protections and undermine the credibility of the world’s most prominent development finance institution.

The World Bank’s intention to allow our governments, which have marginalized our communities for decades, to decide whether we are indigenous or not would severely undermine our fundamental human rights and weaken the limited protections we currently have. This approach would completely contradict the growing recognition of our rights, and must not be allowed to happen.”

Adrien Sinafasi Makelo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Does not meaningfully address climate change. Despite the Bank’s prominence in warning of the dangers that a warming world poses to development, the draft includes only sporadic mention of climate change. The draft does not ensure that projects are in-line with national climate plans, nor does it have clear requirements for assessing and managing the impacts of climate change on the viability of projects or the resilience of ecosystems or local communities in project areas. At the same time, the draft fails to require assessments of greenhouse gas emissions for all high-emission projects or to take steps to reduce emissions.

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Tramples the rights and threatens the welfare of communities subject to forced displacement. The draft eliminates the fundamental development objective of the resettlement policy and the key measures essential to preventing impoverishment and protecting the rights of people uprooted from their homes, lands, productive activities and jobs to make way for Bank projects. The draft allows the Bank to finance projects that entail the physical and economic displacement of communities without first ensuring that there is a reconstruction plan and budget available to ensure adequate compensation, sound physical resettlement, economic recovery and improvement. This would be an unconscionable regression in Bank policy that will result in the large-scale impoverishment of affected people and exacerbate inequality, in flagrant contradiction of the Bank’s mandate and goals. The draft also fails to ensure a transparent accounting at project completion that no displaced people end up worse off than without the Bank project.

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Eliminates protections for forests and forest-dependent peoples. The newly rebranded biodiversity standard establishes a single-minded focus on species biodiversity at the expense of ecological integrity and the local communities dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and cultural survival. Far from safeguarding forests and other natural habitats, the biodiversity standard permits projects in previous ‘no-go’ areas and provides loopholes for logging, while the standard’s heavy reliance on biodiversity offsetting leaves no natural areas off the table for destructive interventions. The draft must strengthen protections for the natural resources that the majority of people living in extreme poverty depend on.

“The Bank must not rely on national legal frameworks without independent assessment in order to ensure the rights of Indigenous Peoples are protected in its activities. Under international law, Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral land rights are an inherent right, established by their customs and practices, and are not dependent on national law.”
Amnesty International

Fails to protect and promote land rights. Despite the growing land-grabbing crisis displacing countless indigenous communities, small farmers, fisher-folk and pastoralists throughout the Global South, the draft fails to incorporate any serious protections to prevent Bank funds from supporting land-grabs. While the Bank pledged that the new safeguards would be informed by the Committee for World Food Security’s ‘Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries’, the draft fails to strengthen protection of the land rights of poor and vulnerable groups. Instead, it undermines them in many ways, such as by excluding the application of the land and resettlement standard to projects concerning land titling and land use planning.

“Not only does the draft Framework fail to include a comprehensive set of safeguard standards on land tenure and land rights, as is acutely needed, alarmingly, it actually acts to narrow the scope of the current policies and weaken land rights protections for poor and vulnerable groups.”
Joint civil society input on ESS5, endorsed by 97 civil society groups and 17 individuals

To learn more about the Environmental and Social Safeguards and the World Bank, visit 


UN Committee Reviews Nepal and Guatemala on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

This post consists of two articles re-posted from Cultural Survival: UN Committee Reviews Guatemala’s Record on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on November 20, 2014 and UN Committee Reviews Nepal on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights originally posted on November 24, 2014


By Alex Glomset

[Photo Credit: Cultural Survival]

[Photo Credit: Cultural Survival]

Nepal came before the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on November 20,2014 to present its third periodic report on how it has implemented the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Nepal is no stranger to minority and Indigenous rights issues, having a history of conflict with the Dalit community amongst others. Nepal has striven to uphold the rights of Indigenous communities as stated by the covenant, by not only implementation of the ICESCR, but also having the National Planning Commission acknowledge the Indigenous rights issues and the necessity of change.

The questions pertaining to Indigenous rights issues were of a similar nature, more so focused on the problems relating to acknowledging Indigenous groups and aspects of their culture rather than any legislation that is discriminatory towards the Indigenous groups. One committee member asked what efforts had been made by the government to support and promote education in Indigenous languages.  Another committee member was concerned over the lack of reference to unity ownership of land by Indigenous communities and asked if the government would include such a provision in the new constitution.

In response to these questions, the delegation stated that it was making efforts to revise their land act to allow such recognition, though further detail was not given. The delegation also added that government had pursued a policy of creating specific structures to decide whether or not to be a party to ILO Convention 169.

The delegation added, in response to the question about languages, that such an effort had been made, and schoolbooks had been printed in 16 languages. Furthermore, after being asked for further details, the delegation stated that there was an act to protect the cultural rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In conclusion, the Committee thanked the delegation of Nepal, having been informed with great detail on the transformation of Nepal since the last review. And though there was progress to be made, there had been steps made, which the committee found encouraging.

The third CESCR review of Nepal gives hope that further changes can occur, though there are significant obstacles in the way before such progress is achieved. It was concerning that the government of Nepal was not fully committed to ratifying and implementing ILO Convention 169, which could only truly benefit the human rights situation in Nepal.

However, it was promising that Nepal appeared acknowledging of all the indigenous rights issues it has and showed commitment to changing them amongst the other problems that it faces as a nation.



By Alex Glomset

[Photo Credit: Cultural Survival]

[Photo Credit: Cultural Survival]

In the absence of an Indigenous rights treaty body, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has discussed many of the issues involving Indigenous Peoples in the reviews of applicable countries. Guatemala, whose Mayan population accounts for an estimated 51 percent of its total population, has historically had many issues regarding Indigenous Peoples. During Guatemala’s third review of its commitment to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on November 18, 2014 during the CESCR’s 53rd session, Guatemala’s progress on its Indigenous rights issues was at the forefront of the discussion.

Members of the Committee asked several questions regarding Indigenous rights before the delegation was given an opportunity to respond. One of the committee members asked about Indigenous Peoples’ access to justice, and what provisions the Guatemalan government has to allow Indigenous Peoples to follow trials through the use of interpreters. A second committee member asked about the changes to constitutional reform that would recognize Indigenous Peoples. Specifically, the committee member was concerned on how exactly Indigenous Peoples would be recognized, and if the committee could elaborate on its strategy. A third question was asked by a committee member who was concerned about the high rates of unemployment for Indigenous People and what plans the government had to stimulate employment.

The delegation chose to not answer the first or third question, but was quick to respond that through the implementation of ILO Convention 169, Indigenous rights would be recognized and respected. Guatemala had chosen a committee to look into the various aspects of implementation of ILO Convention 169. According to the delegation, a technical document had been requested so that they committee could consult the Indigenous groups. However, the meeting that instructed this was the day before Guatemala’s review before the CESCR, so the proposed document was not finished and the Indigenous Groups had not been consulted.

The next round of questions by the committee members also referenced some of the issues in Guatemala that affected Indigenous Peoples. One committee member brought up the rates of malnutrition amongst children in Guatemala, which is at 43%, but the rate of Indigenous children with malnutrition was as high as 80 percent. There were many cases of malnutrition related deaths, which was truly sobering to the committee. The committee member asked what the Guatemalan delegation’s response was to these facts.

Other committee members built off of the previous question, asking the delegation what measures the government had in place for accessibility to health care in for Indigenous groups, particularly those in rural areas. This question was also extended to talk about what specific measures the government had for vulnerable groups such as women and children for health and reproductive care as well as how the government was addressing the prevalent poverty faced by Indigenous groups in Guatemala.

Another question that was asked was regarding any mechanism in place for issuance of land titles to Indigenous Peoples and if so, how many of these land titles were issued annually.

The final question regarding Indigenous rights that was asked before the delegation was given an opportunity to respond was how the government was combatting obstacles to access to schools and adequate education for Indigenous Peoples and peoples in rural areas.

The delegation responded to the plethora of Indigenous rights related questions by stating that Indigenous rights issues were important and understood in Guatemala. The delegation then went on a tangent about general implementation of human rights related laws and did not mention Indigenous rights for the remainder of the meeting.

In the conclusion of the meeting, the head of then Guatemalan delegation thanked the Committee for its questions, but stated that it regretted that some committee’s member’s comments were not in line with the ICESCR standards. The Committee Chairman referenced this comment in his conclusion stating that no comment made by any committee member would justify the remark made by the delegation.

The third review of Guatemala by the CESCR showed that though progress had been made since its first and second review, the Guatemalan government could have made much more progress. Whether or not the concluding comment by the delegation representative about inappropriate comments was referencing the questions regarding Indigenous rights, the delegation of Guatemala did not adequately answer many of the questions about Indigenous rights issues. In fact, the delegation avoided discussing many of the questions that talked about specific legislation regarding Indigenous Peoples and the issues surrounding them.

The one positive that can be taken from the discussion is that the Guatemalan government has ratified ILO Convention 169, though it was nearly two decades ago. The delegations response regarding the implementation of ILO Convention 169 seemed impressive initially, however, not much progress had been made to the implementation of ILO Convention 169 since Guatemala’s ratification in 1996. It is disappointing that progress was not made towards the implementation between the second and third review of Guatemala by the CESCR in 2003 and 2014 respectively.

It is therefore essential that these issues be discussed at Guatemala’s review for CEDAW and CRC whose covenants both reference Indigenous groups.  Otherwise, the unenforceable nature of human rights treaty bodies has allowed for another delegation to walk away from its severe human rights record by just merely refusing to answer the questions given by the committee.


 Cultural Survival helps Indigenous Peoples around the world defend their lands, languages, and cultures as they deal with issues like the one you’ve just read about. To read about Cultural Survival’s work around the world, click here.


What Are Indigenous Rights?


by Britnae Purdy

We throw around the term “human rights” a lot. It’s a term that gets people listening, at least for a moment – we know that human rights abuses are bad, that we’re supposed to oppose regimes that withhold human rights, that human rights are good, happy things.

But really, what are we talking about here? And how does that apply to Indigenous Peoples? Human rights are certain rights that are inherent to all human beings, regardless of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. All humans are entitled to human rights, without discrimination. But that makes “human rights” sound like a lunch special from your favorite take-out place. We need to get a little deeper.

The UN Office of the High Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR) says that human rights are interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible, and so “the improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the others. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others.” Human rights encompass civil and  political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law, and freedom of expression; economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security, and education; and collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination. Human rights were first outlined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948; the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights took it further in stating that it is the duty of the state to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic, and cultural systems. The OHCHR explains this further, saying that “human rights entail both rights and obligations. States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect, and to fulfill human rights. The obligation to respect means that states must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires states to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfill means that states must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.” All countries in the world have ratified at least one declaration on human rights, and 80 percent have ratified four or more of the core human rights treaties.

Indigenous rights, however, are not synonymous with human rights – they are a subset of human rights. The difference distills to the underlying driving force of each movement. Whereas human rights are based on individual rights, Indigenous rights are based on collective, or group rights. The difference seems simple, but it is incredibly important.

Whereas individual rights assert the right of all humans to live as equal participants in society, collective rights allow a group of people, in order to preserve their unique and traditional cultures, to live separately from mainstream society, while still having access to the rights afforded the dominant society.  As Indigenous Foundations explains, “Aboriginal rights are collective rights which flow from Aboriginal  peoples’ continued use and occupation of certain areas. They are inherent rights which Aboriginal peoples have practiced and enjoyed since before European contact. Because each [tribe] has historically functioned as a distinct society, there is no one official overarching Indigenous definition of what these rights are. Although these specific rights may vary between Aboriginal groups, in general they include rights to the land, rights to subsistence resources and activities, and the right to self-determination and self-government, and the right to practice one’s own cultural customs including language and religion.”

Though Indigenous Peoples are often minorities within their countries, the term “minority rights” is also inadequate, as minority rights are also based on individual, not collective rights. As the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights states, “the nature of the types of rights ascribed to Indigenous Peoples and minorities in international law differs considerably and this has major implications. The crucial difference between minority rights and Indigenous rights is that minority rights are formulated on individual rights, whereas Indigenous rights are collective rights. The specific rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities, include the right to enjoy their own culture, to practice their own religion, to use their own language, to establish their own associations, and to participate in national affairs. These rights may be exercised by persons belonging to minorities individually, as well as in community with other members of their own group. Therefore, Indigenous rights are collective rights, even though they also recognize the foundation of individual human rights.”

Indigenous or collective rights have been explicitly promised in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention 169. However, many important Indigenous Peoples’ rights are not framed in specific Indigenous Peoples’ rights treaties, but are part of more general treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. As the United Nations Regional Information Center states, despite the growing visibility of Indigenous Peoples on the international field in the past fifty years, “it has not been easy for the international community to create legal instruments that would guarantee their autonomy, cultural integrity, and protection of their special rights.”

“Why can’t we just fall back on the existing and internationally recognized human rights treaties?” they implore. “Because most human rights treaties reflect an individualistic concept of rights and rights holders. But for many Indigenous peoples their identity as an individual is inseparably connected to the community to which that individual belongs. Therefore, the problem is that whilst human rights treaties and instruments guarantee individual rights, Indigenous peoples ask for protection of their collective rights as a group.”

Indigenous peoples remain among the most marginalized and oppressed populations in the world, suffering rampant rates of poverty, disease, illiteracy, political marginalization, and forced assimilation. Some argue that this is because of widespread misunderstandings of the concept of collective versus individual rights. As the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Library explains, “In international discussions on the protection and promotion of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights, some states have argued that a more conscientious application of human rights standards would resolve the issue. On the other hand, Indigenous peoples argue that such international human rights standards have failed to protect them thus far. What is needed, they argue, is the development of new international documents addressing the specific needs of the world’s Indigenous Peoples. Although the Universal Declaration on Human Rights is designed to protect the human rights of all individual human beings, international law concerning collective human rights remain vague and can fail to protect the group rights of International Peoples.”

As Douglas Sanders of Human Rights Quarterly says, “collective rights have not achieved the level of acceptance accorded to individual rights. While no one would attack the idea of individual rights and expect to be taken seriously, respectable arguments are often made against the recognition of collective rights. Some argue that collective rights are inconsistent with individual rights. Minority groups are often seen as destabilizing factors in an international system based on states. South Africa has used ‘group rights’ to justify apartheid. Some Western countries see assertion of rights of peoples,” “collective rights,” and “solidarity rights” as making the authoritarian agenda of some third world states. So while support for the idea of collective rights has clearly grown, the theoretical and practical debates are not over.”

For example, governments may be unfamiliar with the concept of community-owned land, and therefore fear that giving collective rights to land deeds in an Indigenous community will create an uncomfortable power shift from government to locality. However, Indigenous peoples who have traditionally operated on collective, not individual, ownership, find their rights and ability to maintain their own land eroded by enforced individualism. Likewise, many governments state that they cannot uphold Indigenous rights because that would mean giving one segment of society favorable treatment over another, and that highlighting the diversity of their people will erode their sense of nationalism. This is not accurate. Indigenous rights are meant to compensate for historic mistreatment of Indigenous groups – they level the playing field, so to speak. Additionally, it is not the celebration of diversity that undermines nationalism, but rather the discrimination and subversion of one culture to another that will result in ethnic and tribal conflict.

Though based on human rights, Indigenous rights require a closer, more holistic look at how societies allow citizens to operate as human beings. Affording Indigenous Peoples collective rights will allow them to be more fairly treated under the law, and ultimately create a more cohesive, respectful, and effective society.



(Photo from:


Making Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Available to All


In recent years, Indigenous rights groups and corporate investors have more strongly pushed for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) procedures in cases where corporate industrial projects affect Indigenous communities. Since the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) outlined the key elements of FPIC in 2005, FPIC has gained momentum as an international standard for best practice in community engagement. International laws including the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the 1989 International Labor Organization Convention 169 (ILO 169) have established FPIC as a right for Indigenous People and communities worldwide. We believe that easy access to the FPIC literature will help Indigenous communities and other interested parties worldwide become more aware of FPIC guidelines and procedures, encourage cooperation and communication between industry managers and Indigenous Peoples, and facilitate the promotion of FPIC as a more widely and more meaningfully implemented global standard for consent. Accordingly, First Peoples Worldwide has compiled existing guidebooks, training manuals, informational brochures, and multimedia resources on FPIC, including documents and digital media in languages other than English. The publishers and producers of these resources represent a variety of voices, from the United Nations, Cultural Survival, the International Institute for Environment and Development, to Indigenous coalitions such as the Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (FAPI) of Paraguay and the Indigenous Bar Association. About 25% of the sources we’ve gathered have been published or produced by Indigenous organizations or coalitions, and many more have been produced by non-governmental and non-profit organizations. The  FPIC database is a work in progress, and we hope it will continue to expand as the conversation around FPIC expands. If you have or know of an FPIC guidebook or resource, please share it with us so we can add it to the database.

(Photos: From Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) animation video on “Rights in Action: Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for Indigenous Peoples”)

Amazon Watch_The Right to Decide

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact_Rights in Action Comic

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact_Rights in Action Video

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and International Working Group for International Affairs Training Manual _ English version

Australian Conservation Foundation _ Free Prior and Informed Consent

Boreal Leadership Council _ FPIC in Canada

Business for Social Responsibility _ Engaging with FPIC

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development _ Indigenous Peoples Guidance Note

Fasken Martineau _ FPIC Legal Requirements and Practical Realities

Federación por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas _ Propuesta de protocolo para un Proceso de Consulta y Consentimiento con los Pueblos Indígenas del Paraguay _ versión

First Peoples Worldwide FPIC Guidebook

Forest Peoples Programme _ FPIC Guide _ English version

Forest Peoples Programme _ FPIC Guide _ French version

Forest Peoples Programme _ FPIC Guide _ Indonesian version

Forest Peoples Programme _ FPIC Guide _ Spanish version

Forest Peoples Programme _ FPIC PowerPoint

Forest Peoples Programme _ In Search of Middle Ground _ English version

Forest Peoples Programme _ In Search of Middle Ground _ Spanish version

Forest Peoples Programme _ Indigenous Peoples’ Rights _ English version

Forest Peoples Programme _ Indigenous Peoples’ Rights _ French version

Forest Peoples Programme _ Indigenous Peoples’ Rights _ Spanish version

FPIC and the Extractive Industries _ A Guide to Applying the Spirit of FPIC in Industrial Projects

FPIC and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil _ English version

FPIC and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil _ Indonesian version

Indigenous Environmental Network _ FPIC

International Indian Treaty Council Guidebook

International Institute for Environment and Development _ Making Consent Work for Quality Investment in the Extractive Industries

Making FPIC a Reality

Metz _ The Right to FPIC and Project Governance

Ninti One _ What is FPIC

Oxfam Guide to FPIC

Sustainalytics _ License to Operate

The Center for People and Forests _ FPIC in REDD+ _ English version

The Center for People and Forests _ FPIC in REDD+ _ Indonesian version

The Center for People and Forests _ FPIC Powerpoint

The Center for People and Forests _ FPIC Training Manual

The Forests Dialogue _ Making FPIC Work for Forests and Indigenous Peoples

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples _ Provisions Relevant to Consent

United Nations _ FPIC for REDD in Asian Pacific Region

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples _ Intro Handbook

United Nations FPIC Workshop

United Nations REDD+ Guidelines

World Wide Fund for Nature – World Wildlife Fund _ FPIC in REDD+


Proud To Be Indigenous Week Starts Next Week – May 20th!

Updated 5/14/2013


Proud to Be Indigenous Week starts Monday, May 20th. Are you part of it yet?!

Indigenous Peoples from around the world will be descending on New York City for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). While most of us can’t make it to New York, our voices need to be heard! Proud To Be Indigenous is an online campaign for Indigenous People to share their stories. The Proud To Be Indigenous coalition includes over 40 Indigenous and Indigenous-friendly organizations, large and small and from all over the world, that will be sharing photos, videos and stories about Indigenous, Native and Aboriginal people online during UNPFII (see the full list of coalition members below).

But most importantly, Proud To Be Indigenous is about you, the Indigenous People from around the world, and sharing your story and voice. How? Throughout the week, we are encouraging people to share photos, videos and stories of themselves and why they are proud of their people and culture. We have already started receiving photos, videos and stories from Indigenous People in the Arctic, Amazon, and Central Africa! Join your Indigenous sisters and brothers and send us a photo of you holding a #Proud2BIndigenous sign so that next week, thousands of Indigenous people are showing their pride and sharing their voice. And make sure you are following us on Facebook and Twitter because during the week, we will be sharing Indigenous stories and news coming out of UNPFII.

How can you get involved? Its easy, no matter where you are.


Take a photo of yourself with your homemade #Proud2BIndigenous sign. See a few of the great examples we have already received below:


Then post them on the Proud To Be Indigenous Facebook page with a message telling us your name, your People and where you live.

If you are on Twitter, tweet your photo using the hashtag #Proud2BIndigenous or #P2BI and we will retweet it.

And if you only have email, just email is the photo to and we will share it for you.

That’s it! Make sure you sign up and join the movement so we can update you throughout the week on what is going on. And check out the schedule below for the Proud To Be Indigenous events in New York during UNPFII.

Thank you to the Proud To Be Indigenous Coalition: First Peoples WorldwideCultural SurvivalSmithsonian’s National Museum of the American IndianIndian Country Today Media NetworkAmazon WatchNative American Rights FundUnited Nations Global CompactA World Institute for a Sustainable Humanity (AWISH); Action Communautaire pour la Promotion des Défavorisés Batwa (ACPROD-BATWA); Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group; Bajoh Indigenous Development Association; Bible Hill Youth Club; Borena Amara Wetatoch Mehaber (BAYA); Borneo ProjectBuffalo Nickel CommunicationsConscious Living; Council of the Maya Ancestral Authorities of the Ixil Region; ELEMENTALEnterprise Development & Enterprise FacilityFundación Paso a PasoGlobal HandGulu Deaf AssociationGwich’in Steering CommitteeHiga-onon Ha Migsabuwa Ta Lanao, Inc.; Il’laramatak Community ConcernsIndigenous Peoples Issues and ResourcesIndigenous WavesInternational Indian Treaty Council (IITC); Literacy Action And Development Agency (LADA)Longhouse Media; Maya Leaders Alliance, Mindanao Fish, Wildlife Degenders and Parks Association; Mengbwa: Actions Jeunes (MAJE)Native Arts CollectiveNumi Organic Tea; Organisation d’Accompagnement et d’Appui aux Pygmées (OSAPY); Organization of Indigenous Communities of Masisea (OCOIM); Peopleriver; Pikhumpongan Dlibon Subanen, Inc. (PDSI); Pueblos Indígenas Chorotega (CPICh); Pwani Leadership Council (Kenya); Pygmy People Association for a Sustainable Development; Red Alliance MediaRunaSATIIM – Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management; Sundarbon Adibasi Munda Sangastha (SAMS), sweetriotTankaTebtebba; Toledo Alcaldes Association; Uganda Gender Rights Foundation; Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), Urunji Child-Care Trust; and Vision Maker Media.




Updated 5/14/2013

Annual Children’s Festival: “Aloha Days at the NMAI”
Saturday & Sunday, May 18 & 19, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST
at National Museum of the American Indian
Celebrate the culture, traditions and values of Native Hawai’i through dance, storytelling, workshops and much more.  Activities and workshops will be lead by Hālau O ‘Aulani.

First Peoples Worldwide Annual Board Meeting
Sunday, May 19 & Monday, May 20

Donor Breakfast
Tuesday, May 21 (Invitation only)
A chance for funders and First Peoples’ grantees to meet and explore future funding opportunities. Invitation only.
Contact for details.

Corporate Leadership & Indigenous Peoples
Tuesday, May 21, 12:30 – 2:30 PM EST
A workshop for companies establishing leadership roles within the growing global trajectory for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. RSVP is required.
Contact for details.

Leadership Training for Indigenous Peoples
Tuesday, May 21, 6:00 – 9:00 PM EST
A culturally appropriate leadership training for Indigenous Peoples. RSVP is required.
Contact for details.

UN Global Compact Consultation
Thursday, May 23, 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM EST
Workshop for Indigenous Peoples to provide feedback and comments to the UN Global Compact’s Business Reference Guide to UNDRIP. RSVP is required.
Contact for details.

Native Right to Water
Thursday, May 23, 6:00 PM EST
Diker Pavilion at National Museum of the American Indian
In conjunction with the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the museum and the National Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals presents a discussion of Native water rights with Cecelia Belone, (Diné) and Native activist/attorney James Zion. This program will also be broadcast live on the web at

Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award
Thursday, May 23, 6:00 – 8:00 PM EST
at National Museum of the American Indian
Hosted by Cultural Survival
Contact for details.

Cultural Survival Baazar
Friday May 24, 10:00 AM – 6PM EST
at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza
833 1st Ave, New York, NY 10017
Hosted by Cultural Survival
For more information, visit:

Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Guidebook Meeting
Tuesday, May 28, 1:15 – 2:30PM EST
An introduction to Indigenous Peoples Guidebook to FPIC & Corporation Standards developed in partnership with First Peoples Worldwide, the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), and Trillium Asset Management.
Contact for details.

Times are tentative and subject to change. All events wil take place in New York City. Sign-up to be alerted of additions and changes to the schedule.



Indigenous Peoples in Panama Call Out UN on Violating FPIC, Withdraw Support for REDD

By Britnae Purdy


The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) states that, “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

Yet, indigenous peoples’ in Panama are citing an “inadequate attention to the rights issued by the government and UN agencies” and a “lack of full and effective consultations with indigenous peoples on the various stages and implementation of the program,” and therefore, are pulling out of the United Nations effort to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (UN-REDD).

The National Coordination of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP) says that the Panamanian government and UN has not taken into consideration the “minimum standards of respect of human rights of the indigenous peoples of Panama,” and that they have the “intention to marginalize the participation” of the seven indigenous groups that comprise COONAPIP. 76% of forests in Panama are located in indigenous territory.

In a letter to UN-REDD announcing their withdrawal, COONAPIP stated that, “The dialogue with the UN-REDD program is stalled and without clear signs of a serious commitment to establish a cooperative relationship [with indigenous peoples], and without any expression of will to pay attention to the rights of indigenous peoples or their full and effective participation at all stages of the program’s implementation, to the point that COONAPIP declares that this dialogue is exhausted from the points of view of content, form, and participation.” The declaration was signed at a conference in Gaigigordub, Guna Yala Comarca on February 25.

COONAPIP urges other indigenous peoples around the world to “proceed with caution and take the necessary measures to avoid being tricked by United Nations bodies and officials.” UN-REDD currently has programs in 46 countries. COONAPIP has accused program organizers of trying to bribe indigenous communities into providing false consultation in the government’s favor, and is outraged over the hypocrisy that the government is allowing logging companies to participate in negotiations while marginalizing indigenous participation. COONAPIP has pledged to spread the word of these violations and possibly proceed with international lawsuits.

In a letter of complaint sent to UN-REDD in June 2012, COONAPIP listed a series of “incongruencies and inconsistencies” that they had experienced during the consultation process since the implementation of the program in 2009. UN-REDD, which recently released its Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Guidelines (FPIC) and held a regional workshop to address FPIC in 2010, acknowledge that they have had “serious disagreements” with COONAPIP but deny any intentional wrong-doing on their part.