ASIA CAUCUS STATEMENT
Five years after the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), several developments relating to indigenous peoples in Asia have taken place. These development include the increased awareness of the UNDRIP, the engagement with UN agencies at different levels, the increased visibility of indigenous peoples in different global processes among others. At the regional level, the formation of the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in late 2009 is a welcome development. However, the ongoing process of drafting the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) is marked in secrecy. There is no engagement what so ever of this regional human rights body with indigenous peoples and civil society organizations.
In the one and only regional consultation on the AHRD with civil society organizations held last 22 June 2012, the AICHR rejected the request of AIPP to participate, nor did it invite any other indigenous peoples organization from across the region to participate in the said consultation. We are concerned that with indigenous peoples left out in this important process, the rights of indigenous peoples may be missing or inadequately recognized in the draft. Likewise, indigenous peoples in ASEAN remain invisible in the grand plan of the ASEAN for economic growth based on massive investments on extractive industries.
At the national level, the decisive progress in terms of effective engagement towards the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples is taking place in Indonesia. In September 2011, the AMAN- the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of Indonesia and the National Land Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding that aims to ensure justice and legal certainty of indigenous peoples control over their lands and resources. Likewise, the draft Act on the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples has been accepted as a priority in the national legislation programme this year.
While we acknowledge these positive developments, we still continue to face serious and tremendous challenges, especially at the national and state level in the recognition and exercise of our collective rights under the UNDRIP. Our lands, territories and resources are being given away to land concessions and extractive industries and other mega hydro-power dam projects, while some are demarcated for conservation without our consent. Militarization of our territories, resulting to serious human rights violations and abuse of women continues at an alarming rate. Likewise, majority of indigenous peoples in Asia are not recognized as distinct groups with collective rights under the UNDRIP.
As we celebrate the 5th year of the adoption of the UNDRIP, the more than 200 million indigenous peoples in Asia deserve more than lip service and rhetoric on human rights protection, social justice and sustainable development. The concrete implementation of the UNDRIP at the national level shall be given priority and with a sense of urgency in order for this international human rights instrument to turn the tide and abate the worsening condition of indigenous peoples across Asia. The key and urgent steps shall include legal reforms for the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples consistent with the UNDRIP, de-militarization of indigenous territories and the resolution of ongoing armed conflicts, moratorium on extractive and other projects without the consent of indigenous peoples, the delivery of appropriate services and support to livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and the establishment of mechanisms for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples on matters that concern them. The implementation of these key steps will demonstrate the political will of States in abiding with their international human rights obligations. Further, the World Bank and business corporations need to have strong policies and accountability mechanisms in line the with the UNDRIP.
Finally, as we all look forward to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014, a clear and strong outcome document on the implementation of the UNDRIP to close the gap between the aspirations of the UNDRIP and the reality shall be the overarching goal.