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Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

UNPFII20: Agenda 3 – Peace, justice, and strong institutions: the role of indigenous peoples in implementing Sustainable Development Goal 16

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 20th Session
April 19-30, 2021
Statement on behalf of the Asia Indigenous People’s Caucus
Presented by: Guangchunliu Gangmei

The recognition of the identity of Indigenous Peoples and their ability to contribute, to participate legitimately in decision-making spaces and to distribute wealth and social opportunities are the challenges of justice (Santamaría, Ramiro Avila 2019).

In the context of SDGs, Indigenous People have been advocating on how SDGs can lead to peace, justice and inclusive societies.

The coloniality of power has prevented inclusion and representation of Indigenous Peoples and negated a valuable resource to sustainable development. Indigenous Peoples’ approach to sustainable use of natural resources is diametrically opposed to short term capitalistic monopolies, exploitation and accumulation. Where progress is seen only in terms of economic growth, conflicts and violence against Indigenous Peoples will escalate.

The ongoing failure to ensure lasting peace, justice and accountability is one of the main causes of conflict and violence. The impact of historical injustices, often without redress or reconciliation, is a major reason for the continued marginalization of Indigenous Peoples.

In Asia, several peace accords had been agreed upon between Governments and Indigenous Peoples but implementation is minimal and many issues are exacerbated.

Some recent examples of recognition, reparation and reconciliation initiatives that specifically deals with Indigenous Peoples in Asia include the following:

  1. Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord (1997) following legislative processes in Bangladesh,
  2. Naga Framework Agreement (2015) for political solution and accords with other groups in Northeast India
  3. National Ceasefire Agreement (2015), Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong (2016) and the ongoing peace processes in Myanmar
  4. Apology of Taiwan’s President to Indigenous Peoples (2016) and subsequent measures in Taiwan

Other relevant processes include the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal (2015), the recent bill approved by Japan’s cabinet recognizing the Ainu people as “Indigenous People” and the ongoing federalism discourse in the Philippines.

While Goal 16 forms the basis for the attainment of many of the rights enshrined in the UNDRIP and the SDGs itself, the situation of Indigenous Peoples is deteriorating.

The inclusion of Indigenous Peoples as change agents in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires that our right to self-determination is recognized. The pandemic has shown that wherever we are able to exercise our rights more freely, we have been able to cope better with the impact of the pandemic. However, instead of protecting our rights, the pandemic is being used as an instrument to promulgate detrimental laws and solutions against Indigenous Peoples.

We call upon the UNPFII to make the following recommendations in the implementation of the Goal 16 in partnership with Indigenous Peoples:

  • That states must recognize the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and their governance systems, and national Constitutions and laws, and peace accords signed must guarantee their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • That marginalization and criminalization of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the expropriation of their lands must end, and enable them to effectively participate in the implementation of SDGs.
  • That states adopt a pluralistic approach to access to justice and recognize Indigenous Peoples’ judiciary and conflict-resolution systems.

Guangchunliu Gangmei
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), on behalf of the Asia Caucus

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