People's Stories Indigenous People

Indigenous World 2022
by International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
May 2022
The Indigenous World is the unique result of a collaborative effort between Indigenous and non-indigenous activists and scholars who voluntarily document and report on the situation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
This yearly overview serves to document and report on the developments Indigenous Peoples have experienced throughout 2021, covering 60 countries.
The Indigenous World 2022 adds not only documentation, but also includes a special focus on the contribution and situation of Indigenous women and their rights around the world. Indigenous women play crucial roles in their communities as breadwinners, caretakers, knowledge keepers, leaders and human rights defenders.
While Indigenous women have made small, but significant progress in being part of decision-making processes in some communities, risen to leadership in communal and national roles, and stood on the protest frontlines to defend their lands and the planet’s decreasing biodiversity; the reality remains that Indigenous women are massively under-represented, disproportionately negatively affected by the decisions made on their behalf without their valuable input, and are too frequently the victims of intersectional discrimination and multiple expressions of violence and sexual assault.

Visit the related web page

Extractive projects cause irreparable harm to indigenous cultures, languages, lives
by Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Apr. 2022
The explosive growth of extractive operations around the world often plays out on indigenous people’s lands without their consent, causing irreparable harm to their livelihoods, cultures, languages and lives, speakers told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Monday, as it opened its 2022 session amid calls to respect their free, prior and informed consent on the existential decisions uprooting their communities.
Gathered in the UN General Assembly, indigenous representatives were welcomed in a traditional ceremony led by Katsenhaienton Lazare of the Bear Clan, Mohawk of the Haudenosaunee, who acknowledged nature in its great diversity - the winds, thunders, lightening, sun and other life forces – which give purpose and protection to humankind, and summoned generations of traditional ancestors who still have much to offer today’s societies.
The invocation fitted with the theme of the Forum’s twenty-first session - 'Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence including free, prior and informed consent' – and start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, 2022-2032.
In opening remarks, Chair Darío Jose Mejia Montalvo of Colombia said the 2022 theme touches upon the cosmos visions through which indigenous peoples have developed their systems for food, culture and coexistence with nature on their territories.
"We share a holistic relationship with nature, where rights are not anthropocentric,” he explained. “An infinity of sacred histories and stories underpin our visions of the world.”
Ancestors too have rights – including to exist - because their task is enduring in the preservation of life. These ancestral practices maintain life in all its forms, with dignity.
Therefore, he said the question of whether indigenous knowledge is scientific is “meaningless”: concepts of life, energy and spirituality are synonymous. Separating them from an economic, religious or other point of view leads to confusion, disputes and unnecessary clashes.
Trampling over informed consent
He said that while indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, land, resources and – importantly - free, prior and informed consent are guaranteed under international norms, these rights are often not applied, even in countries where they are legally recognized. They are instead violated routinely in the granting of lumber, timber, mining and mega-dam contracts.
The pillaging of their resources, loss of their ways of life, cultures and languages, and the disappearing and killing of their leaders are the results of harmful business activities.
A binding treaty for business
Mr. Mejia Montalvo said that without a change to the current energy matrix, the extermination of indigenous peoples will continue, along with expropriation of their lands and the sweeping aside of their rights.
He pressed States to help devise a legally binding instrument to regulate transnational business activities – one that adheres to international human rights and includes explicit provisions for indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, territory and resources, and for their free, prior and informed consent on decisions affecting them.
He described the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169 as “fundamental loadstars” in this regard, and warned that industries from fashion and media to textiles, food and pharmaceutical production, are perpetuating “enclave economy models” that expropriate knowledge and practices from indigenous peoples. “All of these efforts must be interlinked and stepped up,” he said.
UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said that for generations, indigenous communities have prioritized a relationship with nature - grounded in kinship, centered around reciprocity and infused with reverence. “By emulating their example on a broader scale, we can preserve the Earth’s rich biodiversity and diverse landscapes.”
He pointed out that indigenous people comprise less than five per cent of the global population yet protect 80 per cent of global biodiversity, stressing that high linguistic diversity occurs where conditions for biological diversity thrive. “It’s the richness of one that sustains the other,” he explained.
Mr. Shahid said there is growing scientific evidence that indigenous languages that are rich in oral traditions offer evidence for events that happened thousands of years ago.
“By preserving and promoting these languages, we preserve and promote an important part of our human heritage, identity and belonging,” he said. “We have an obligation to ensure that they can participate in and benefit from the work of the United Nations.”
Apr. 2022
"Indigenous peoples, human rights and business activities: UN Guiding Principles and the protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of business operations" - Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI)
UN human rights bodies have reiterated that indigenous peoples’ individual and collective human rights are disproportionally impacted by business operations that take place in or around their traditional lands and territories. These impacts include forced displacement, dispossession of lands and resources, and other gross human rights violations, including massacres, murder, torture, rape, incarceration and judicial harassment and other types of violence and criminalization.
Due to this situation, developments at the international level regarding compulsory human rights due diligence by the private sector, as well as compliance with the State duty to protect from human rights violations have particular importance in the defense of indigenous peoples’ rights. One such development was the adoption in 2011 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: a Framework to Protect, Respect and Remedy (UNGPs). As a widely endorsed framework, there were expectations that UNGPs would contribute to ensuring respect for and protection of human rights in the context of business operations.
More than ten years after their adoption, expectations have not been fulfilled. After assessing progress in implementation, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (WGBHR) concluded that big gaps remain, including in protection of indigenous peoples confronting violations of their rights in the context of business activities and in the protection and respect of the rights enshrined in United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
This briefing paper provides information regarding the UNGPs, the UNGP+10 process and the work of the UN WGBHR in relation to indigenous peoples’ rights, and some initiatives undertaken by Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI) and its ally organizations so that further implementation of UNGPs ensures respect for the UNDRIP and contributes to the end of the violence and criminalization against indigenous peoples in the context of business operations.


View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook