AIPP side-event recommends for a study on peace accords and reconciliation initiatives


Hill Voice, 16 July 2021, International Desk: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) side event on the rights to self-determination recommended to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a study on the peace accords signed between the states and indigenous peoples and reconciliation initiatives.

AIPP hosted a side event on “How can the right to self-determination be realized for the Indigenous Peoples in Asia; assessing challenges and exploring enabling conditions”. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) and Indigenous People Human Rights Defenders Network (IPHRD) were the co-organizers of this event, organized virtually on 15 July at 10 am Geneva time in the margins of the 14th session of the EMRIP 2021.

Mr. Gam A. Shimray, Secretary General, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact moderated the programme where four speakers from four countries, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and the Philippines of Asia shared the experience of self-determination practices perspective of indigenous Peoples in their respective countries.

Mangal Kumar Chakma, Information and Publicity Secretary of ParbatyaChattgram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Bangladesh talked about the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord. Mr. Chakma said despites signing of the CHT Accord in 1997 to resolve the CHT problem through political and peaceful means, but the Government has not come forward to implement the Accord properly and fully as of now.

Mr. Chakma recommended to EMRIP to conduct an assessment study of the CHT Accord to know the progress, identify challenges and gaps in the implementation. He also recommended to the Government of Bangladesh to withdraw all temporary camps including ‘Operation Uttoron’ from the CHT to facilitate the right to self-determination to the local people of the CHT. To execute CHT Regional Council Act and three Hill District Council Acts properly, on transfer of general administration, law and order, police, land and land management, forest and environment etc.

Mr. Akhum Longkumer, member of Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, North East India said around 14 Peace Accords have been signed between the Government and Indigenous People of North East India. However, the Indian State’s definition of ‘peace’ and the spirit of these ‘accords’ continue to be problematic for all Indigenous Peoples.

He recommended the EMRIP and the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights undertake a study on the peace accords, including the peace negotiation between the Government of India and the Nagas and other IP in Northeast India to understand the situation and to promote dialogue at the local level and at the United Nations to advance the rights to self-determination and autonomy of Indigenous Peoples in the region.

Ms. Beverly L. Longid, International Solidarity Officer of Katribu (National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines), Philippines stated- the Philippines’ Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 is said to be one of the most progressive laws of its kind concerning the treatment of indigenous people in the world. It was a direct result of a progressive provision enshrined in 1987 Philippine Constitution, which was created and ratified after the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Under the current Duterte regime, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)’s the manipulation of FPIC (Free Prior Informed Consent) rights has become worsened. It has not defended and promoted the rights, interests, and welfare of indigenous peoples. Rather, it serves as a primary instrument for further oppression and exploitation of IP.

Ms. Beverly said it is very important for indigenous peoples to participate actively in the broad national coalition to usher in a competent, trustworthy administration in the next national election. This will be a way to present our problems and aspirations in the coming elections and be an active part in choosing a united opposition. It is necessary to intensify, analyze and consciously change the many policies that do not serve the interests of the indigenous peoples and the Filipino people.

Mr. Ke Jung, an Indigenous Peoples human rights defender from Myanmar said about the indigenous people’s movement, their struggle for self-determination and the current situation of Indigenous Peoples, the military Coup started in February 2021.

Though we had an agreement between the government and Indigenous peoples, the rights of indigenous peoples and equal rights for Myanmar people were not implemented.

He also discussed the Union Accords produced through the Union Peace Conference/21st Panglong Conference based on National Ceasefire Agreement (2015). He said the Union peace agreement in Myanmar was not really inclusive and the rights of indigenous peoples were not included there. However, the Current Military Coup situation again pushed back what we achieved in the last five years after the National Ceasefire Agreement. With the current context, we are uncertain about the future now. Military rule is not a solution for the self-determination of indigenous peoples as well as the democratization of Myanmar.

Mr. Binota Moy Dhamai, Vice-chair of UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) shared the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples issues highlighting from the EMRIP Draft report this year.

Mr. Leonardo Alvarado, Specialist attorney of the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights Rapporteurship on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples intervened in the event with a special video massage.

Ms. Lola García-Alix, Senior Advisor, Global Governance, IWGIA and Mr. Patrick Earle, Executive Director, Diplomacy Training Programme, DTP delivered their closing remarks with some global recommendations.

The global recommendations from the side event:

  1. The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights undertake a study on the peace accords and reconciliation initiatives, including ongoing peace negotiations focusing on examining barriers and creating enabling conditions to promote constructive dialogue among states and Indigenous Peoples for advancing the rights to self-determination and autonomy in Asia.
  2. Encourage the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to actively collaborate with the Permanent Forum and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to facilitate an inclusive process aimed at the development of guiding principles for the realization and implementation of the right to self-determination and autonomy based on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and universal human rights standards Meaningful and broad participation of Indigenous Peoples organizations from the Asia should be ensured.
  3. The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum along with the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights and the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs should facilitate regional and local level dialogues between Indigenous Peoples and states for the realization and implementation of the right to self-determination and autonomy.
  4. Recommend the EMRIP to co-organize an intersessional technical seminar together with the UNPFII, the Special Rapporteur, and the IACHR to jointly analyze the recommendations made in the reports of the different mechanisms on IPs right to self-determination, autonomy and self-government and to develop a common road map that can guide their work and collaboration to advance in the practical implementation of these crucial rights.
  5. Recommend the EMRIP to convene a dialogue with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) with a view to making recommendations to States and their NHRIs on best practices and lessons learned in promoting and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and processes to realise the right to self-determination.

Source: Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders-IPHRDs Network, Asia (Facebook page)