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Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

Day 1: Wednesday, 5th August, 2020

Join Us: Session I

Time: 11:00 am-12:00 pm






Ms. Liew Wanitchaya

Indigenous Women’s Network in Thailand (IWNT)

Executive Committee Member


Ms. Meiliana Yumi




Ms. Myentthein Promila

Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network / BIPF



Ms. Ching Chippa Lhomi

National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF)

Vice Chair


Ms. Mamta Kujur

Adivasi Mahila Maha Sangh (AMMS) & Jashpur Jan Vikas

Convenor & Secretary respectively

India (Mainland)

Ms. NK Kenny

Sumi Ethnic Tribe, NE India


Northeast India

Mr. Joshua Shuaboih

Disability Development Initiative (DDI)

Deputy Director


Mr. Ergilio Ferreira Vicente

Covalima Youth Centre (CYC)


Timor Leste

Mr. Ned Tuguinay

Asia Indigenous Youth Platform



Ms. Troung Luong Thi

Centre for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas (CSDM)





Voices from the ground

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Session I Recorded Video

Join Us: Session II

Time: 02:00-04:00 pm

Self-determination is a social necessity for the continuity of IPs way of life and as peoples in the 21st Century. It is at the heart of IPs struggle because it underpins IPs capacity to develop as individuals and as communities based on a social order that is determined by themselves. However, the retreat of Asian leaders from their commitment to democracy and human rights have magnified and compounded the obstacles for IPs to realize their right to self-determination.

There is little empirical evidence on the effect of the rule of law on State practice in Asia. The contradiction over principles and practice among states in Asia is becoming a predominant feature. The region’s social conflicts have been severe, and the ability of social groups or civil society to use formal political institutions to resolve, mediate, or mitigate them has been much less effective. In the process, IPs are facing intensified suppression, experiencing rolling back of rights and commitment, and peace talks and political negotiations are reaching dead-ends across the region.

The main aim of this session is to understand why democratic institutions in Asia are not resilient and easily become susceptible to authoritarianism or populism? What are the institutional design defects and its weaknesses, and suggest possible ways of strengthening the political and institutional capacity of states in responding to problems and issues raised above? Does COVID-19 only deepen the problem of human rights and democracy, or does it also offer an opportunity to address these issues? Furthermore, it will also examine how the worldviews, values and principles of democracy found in the community living among Indigenous Peoples in Asia can be elaborated and used in strengthening the foundation of democracy in Asia among states.    

  1. Challenges to democracy in Asia and the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples: Where are we heading?
  2. What does self-determination and self-government mean for Indigenous Peoples? Examining the right of self-determination and Indigenous Peoples’ conception of self-government.

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Session II Recorded Video

Day 2: Thursday, 6th August, 2020

Join Us: Session III

Time: 10:30-12:00 pm

Indigenous Peoples are increasingly facing dispossession of land and denial in enjoying the rights enshrined in UDHR and UNDRIP on access to land, territory, and resources and local rights within the nation-states. There are some existing laws and policies recognizing the customary land rights in some of the countries in Asia, but oftentimes, Indigenous Peoples are denied those rights and land are appropriated for development initiatives focusing on merely on economic growth with lack of balance and consideration of social and environmental sustainability aspects. The large-scale acquisition of land concession for commercial food and agriculture production have impacted Indigenous women also disproportionately. As such, they are not only losing ancestral and traditional land but also threatening their food sovereignty and security along with traditional knowledge on natural resource management especially if they cannot continue to practice their knowledge.

The lessons we are learning in the pandemic times is that, the success of pandemic-fighting initiatives can be directly linked to secured rights over lands. In India, there are several examples where Gram Sabhas, with secured community forest resource (CFR) rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), have used revenues generated from collecting Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) to invest in distributing essential food supplies to all village households. In Malaysia, forest-fringe communities and semi-nomadic communities, such as the Jahai and Bateq, have been able to meet their subsistence needs better than settled communities who depend on incomes generated through cash crops. In Indonesia, Perempuan AMAN, has reported how the varying degrees of land rights recognition over customary territories – secured tenure, granted concession and no rights – has influenced communities’ ability to respond to the risks associated with COVID-19. As demonstrated in the cases of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, community initiatives are undermined when the rights to their traditional lands are either poorly enforced or not recognised.

However, instead of recognising this crucial aspect, what we are now witnessing is that the lockdowns to contain the novel corona virus have made Indigenous Peoples more vulnerable to losing their land. This has opened an opportunity for activities such as illegal logging and land grabs across Asia. Indigenous Peoples Land rights defenders are at constant risks with limited or no access justice during the lockdown. These incidents are not isolated, governments across Asia have used COVID-19 as a cover to pass regressive legislations with potentially devastating impacts on IPs.

This session aims to unfold the trends on laying claims on land territories and resources across Asia and learn  from the experiences on how Covid-19 is impacting the land rights of Indigenous Peoples. The session will also help to derive a common narrative on securing land rights in addressing the pandemic and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples.

  1. What are the trends and challenges in relation to recognition of Land Territories and Resources in the region
  2. What are the impact of Covid-19 on rights to lands territories and resources. Share experiences from the sub-region

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Session III Recorded Video

Join Us: Session IV

Time: 02:00-3:30 pm

In Asia, Indigenous Peoples’ traditional livelihoods primarily involve small scale agriculture, fishing, hunting, gathering from nearby forests and shifting cultivation[1]. In Southeast Asia, it is estimated that at least 14 to 34 million people practice shifting cultivation[2]. There is no estimate available in the literature for South Asia, but it is likely that several millions are practicing shifting cultivation.

The study undertaken by AIPP, IWGIA and FAO on shifting cultivation in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, and Thailand on shifting cultivation in 2015 reaffirmed that shifting cultivation is playing a significant role in providing livelihoods, and ensuring food security to indigenous communities and particularly Indigenous Women perform 70% of the work related to shifting cultivation where they are responsible for the selection of seeds, for weeding the fields, gathering, processing, and selling the surplus products. This  clearly shows an important role of Indigenous Women in the cultivation, transfer, and practice of Indigenous Knowledge relating to IPFS. The study also reconfirmed that Indigenous Peoples’ life, values and culture are intricately linked to Shifting Cultivation[3]. So, there is a need for consistent and concerted evidence-based policy advocacy by Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations to get the recognition, respect, and promotion of IPFS as their cultural heritage.    

Indigenous foods are diverse and healthy that meet the nutritional needs of community members and contribute to their wellbeing. However, large scale mining and extractive industries; logging; agri-business; mega dams, and monoculture plantations driven by profits and declaration of protected areas without the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples are adversely affecting the traditional livelihoods and food security of Indigenous Peoples. For this to stop and enhance Indigenous Peoples’ contribution to the SDG2 and beyond, Governments and private companies should recognize and respect Indigenous Peoples as partners and shall take urgent policy actions in providing ownership to their land, territories and resources, strengthening customary governance systems, and recognizing, supporting and promoting traditional livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples.

This session will bring in perspectives of human rights activists, shifting cultivator and UN agency on Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems and respond to the following questions:

  1. What are the good practices and initiatives of Indigenous Peoples on traditional livelihoods?
  2. What are the key roles and contributions of Indigenous Women?
  3. Why Indigenous Knowledge, Culture and Customary Land Rights are key to strengthen Indigenous Peoples contributions to SDG2 and beyond?



[2] Mertz, Ole et al (2009). Swidden Change in Southeast Asia: Understanding Causes and Consequences. Human Ecology.



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Session IV Recorded Video

Day 3: Friday, 7th August, 2020

Join Us: Session V

Time: 10:30-12:00 pm

Around two-thirds of the estimated 410 million Indigenous Peoples in the world live in Asia with over 1,000 distinct ethnic groups with their own language, history, customs, and social and cultural norms. In general, the groups of Indigenous Peoples are now facing a time of key life transition and uncertainty about the future due to a lack of recognition and access to rights. The challenges they face touch upon cultural and linguistic preservation, land rights, and exploitation of natural resources, self-determination and autonomy, environmental degradation and inclusion, ill health, substandard education, and discrimination.

It is assumed that one-third of the total Indigenous population in Asia are Indigenous youth. But in most of countries, Indigenous youth are lagging behind opportunities and space to showcase their capacity and leadership. The future depends on how the young Indigenous Peoples are playing role in the change of Indigenous society and how and what extent they are engaging in the Indigenous movement. In this context, this session aims to analyze the perspectives of Indigenous youth in relation to their engagement, role and contribution in strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ Movement.

  1. What are the challenges that Indigenous youths are facing to be in the leadership roles
  2. Where do Indigenous Youth are when it’s about Indigenous Peoples’ Movement
  3. What should be done to increase and attract youth’s meaning participation and engagement in strengthening Indigenous People’s Movement ?

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Session V Recorded Video

Join Us: Session VI

Time: 02:00-03:30 pm

Realization of Indigenous Women’s contribution in Indigenous movement is progressive, but yet not notable. Indigenous Women are found to be evident and proactive in frontline but are invisible with change in tiers. Their struggles and leadership are recognized and sung at community level. However, their voices and representation in decision making is mostly confined due to limited capacity of articulation, storytelling, influencing and negotiation. With few exceptions, Indigenous heroes like Bai Babylon, Malti Tirkey, Shirley Seng, Madhabilata Chakma and many more have paved path for collective movements. Yet, they have not received deserving recognition for their extraordinary contribution in Indigenous World and are invisible in global Indigenous Movement.

Although solidarity and collective actions among Indigenous Women across world is improving, and to some extent, their voices are becoming stronger than ever. But the situation has not improved in terms of recognition of Indigenous Women’s rights and creating enabling environment for their empowerment. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)’s impact and influence analysis (UN 2019) has revealed the terribly slow progress and grave ground realities of Indigenous Women. Similarly, Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), 2019 has indicated worsening gender disparity and foreseen the greatest challenge to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) third session in 2003 and Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 2017), had recognized the special issues and needs of Indigenous Women with recommendation for Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) committee to make special consideration for Indigenous Women. Similarly, Beijing platform for action (BPFA) has completed 25 years but it’s reflection in 2019 has accounted Indigenous Women’s circumstances limitedly.

While the world commemorates International Indigenous Peoples’ day, AIPP will facilitate Indigenous Women in Asia to reflect and assess the implementation of the international instruments, especially UNDRIP and CEDAW from Indigenous Women’s perspective. The session will analyze the movements of Indigenous Peoples, Women as well Indigenous Women and discuss Indigenous Women rights intersecting in both the international instruments.

  1. Where do you see Indigenous Women in the Indigenous Peoples’ and Women’s Movement?
  2. How different movements can collectively contribute to analysis situation, facilitate discourses, initiate changes and transformations in policies and practices at all level for Indigenous Women’s rights?
  3. How can we build inter-linkages between Indigenous movement, feminism, and Indigenous feminism?
  4. Why and where Indigenous Women need attentions at different level while celebrating IPs’ day?’

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Session VI and Closing Session Recorded Video

Session VI: Questions and Answers

Time: 03:30-3:45 pm

  • Presenting key messages from 3 days sessions