For more than 10 years now, indigenous organizations in Asia have been conducting the annual preparatory meeting, which has been very invaluable in strengthening the cooperation and advocacy strategies of indigenous organizations and leaders in Asia engaging with the various UN Mechanisms and Procedures relating to indigenous peoples. The topics covered have been expanding through the years with the inclusion of discussions on engagement with the ASEAN and its human rights body, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). AIPP has been the technical secretariat for this regional meeting in partnership with a local organization from the host country.
For this year, the meeting was conducted at the Furama Hotel in Chiang Mai and organized by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact with the Network of Indigenous Peoples in Thailand (NIPT) and Indigenous Peoples’ Foundation for Education and Environment (IPF) as the local hosts.
The main objective of the meeting was to discuss key issues and concerns of the indigenous peoples in the region, prepare for the forthcoming session of the UNPFII in May 2011 and the EMRIP (Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) in July 2011 and discuss the other relevant UN and regional mechanisms and procedures. The specific objectives of the meeting were as follows:
- To discuss the lessons learned and challenges in the engagement of indigenous peoples with the various UN Mechanisms, Procedures and Bodies and the ASEAN and its relevant bodies.
- To strategize ways to further advance indigenous peoples rights and concerns with the said mechanisms, procedures and bodies.
- To strengthen the cooperation and solidarity among indigenous peoples in the region for stronger advocacy for indigenous peoples rights and issues in the national, regional and international level.
Fifty six (56) participants composed of indigenous representatives from 13 countries in Asia, relevant UN agencies and mechanisms, and donor agencies participated in this 3-day meeting.
The full documentation of the meeting as well as the reports from the workshops (UNPFII and EMRIP) that were submitted to the UNPFII and the EMRIP secretariat are attached with this report.
Limitations and Challenges
In terms of the conduct of the meeting, the participants felt that the time allocated for the workshops was not enough to fully discuss issues and to make more comprehensive plans in preparation for the upcoming sessions of the UN Permanent Forum on indigenous issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. Further, there was no time allocated for country reports which are crucial in identifying common issues that need to be brought up in the various international mechanisms and procedures relating to indigenous peoples. The participants also felt that there should have been time allocated to process the results of the field visits.
This year, no indigenous representatives from Laos and Pakistan attended the meeting which can be attributed to the prior commitments of those planning to come and lack of Indigenous leaders.
Achievements from the Activity
The activity was also quite beneficial for the participants as they were able to enhance their knowledge on the available UN mechanisms and procedures and regional human rights mechanisms they could utilize for their issues and concerns. Through the reports submitted and the discussions during the meeting, the participants were able to identify common issues related to the themes of the UNPFii and EMRIP sessions. The workshops and planning sessions gave a clearer direction for the participants how they can jointly and effectively lobby for their concerns and engage with the said mechanisms and procedures.
Specifically for the upcoming UNPFii and EMRIP sessions, through the meeting the participants were able strategize the conduct of side events during the said sessions, arrangement of meetings with friendly governments, UN agencies and procedures, and other civil society organizations and the drafting of the Asia Caucus statements.
In general, the meeting strengthened the networking and solidarity of indigenous organizations in the region and the working partnership of the said organizations with the UN agencies and regional and international human rights organizations present during the meeting. The activity has also been very instrumental in the promotion of the implementation of the UNDRIP at the national and local levels and joint addressing of common issues using the available mechanisms and procedures for Indigenous peoples.
Prepared by: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)