Kathmandu, Nepal – As part of the organizational strengthening activities of AIPP, the first sub-regional meeting of members in South Asia was conducted last February 20-21 in Kathmandu, Nepal. This meeting was attended by 36 participants representing 18 out of 19 members of AIPP in South Asia; 3 EC members representing South Asia, AIPP Secretary general and 2 from the AIPP Regional Secretariat. The AIPP members in Nepal, namely the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), NGO Federation of Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities (NGO FONIN), Nepal Indigenous Women Federation (NIWF) and Youth Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (YFIN), hosted the meeting. The other members of AIPP for South Asia are from Bangladesh, mainland India and North East India.
In this meeting, the members provided the country updates on the situation of indigenous peoples. Some of the common developments are:
- Non-implementation of positive laws relating to indigenous peoples including international instruments ratified and or adopted by their respective states such as CERD, ILO 169, UNDRIP as well as national policies and such as the Forest Rights Act of India
- Massive violations to the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and resources with the increase in cases of land grabbing, imposition of dams and other extractive industries projects, implementation of forestry laws prohibiting the practice of shifting cultivation and imposition of national parks alienating indigenous peoples from their territories among others
- Worsening conflicts in indigenous territories and militarization which includes the implementation of repressive security laws and policies such as the AFSPA in Northeast India, Operation Green Hunt in India and Operation Uttoran in Bangladesh
- Discrimination and violence against women including increasing incidents of trafficking of young indigenous women and girls
- Lack of participation and representation of indigenous peoples and particularly indigenous women in decision-making and policy making bodies
Specific issues of countries were also discussed such as the cross border issues in Northeast India and the full and effective participation and representation of indigenous peoples in the Constituent Assembly of Nepal.
In order for indigenous organization to address these issues, as well in in strengthening their own organisations and institutions, the members have identified several capacity building activities as their priorities and needs. These include leadership training especially for the youth, finance and project management, documentation and advocacy trainings among others. In response to this, the EC and the secretariat agreed to explore potential sources of support. Project partnerships in the sub-region were likewise discussed in which members were urged to strengthen their collaboration on key AIPP project activities at the country level.
In relation to other organizational matters, the Gender Policy, Anti- Corruption Policy and Partnership Guideline of AIPP were presented and discussed with members for their common understanding, support and compliance. Prior to the meeting, the Gender Policy and Anti-Corruption Policy were translated to Nepali, Hindi and Bangla.
A mechanism for stronger coordination and information sharing among the members at the country level was agreed on with the setting up of email-lists.
In the closing programme of the meetings, members have expressed their appreciation to the host-organisations and on the substantive and fruitful outcome of the meeting.
AIPP has 47 members and 19 of which are in the South Asia sub-region. The other sub-regions are South East Asia, Mekong, and East Asia.