Indigenous Peoples the world over are paying a high price for decades of unsustainable development that continues to this day. The global rush for economic growth has led to increased demand for land and natural resources, with Indigenous Peoples’ land being a primary target.
As a result, some Indigenous Peoples are at risk of losing their remaining lands and territories, and suffering all the social, economic and cultural threats and losses that will inevitably follow. Land dispossession will lead to the loss of Indigenous Peoples’ traditional livelihood practices and the inter-generational transfer of Indigenous knowledge, and will undermine their social organisation, traditional institutions and cultural and spiritual practices; all of which can cause poverty, food insecurity, social disintegration and loss of identity and human dignity.
The stigmatisation of Indigenous Peoples and criminalisation of their activities reflects a shrinking democratic space in far too many states. An increasing number of attacks by extractive companies and other developers, including conservationists and green investment initiatives, are being detected against defenders of lands and forests. These defenders are protecting biodiversity-rich ecosystems that have been the homes of their people since time immemorial. Land grabbing and invasions lead to mass forced evictions of Indigenous Peoples from their traditional lands and territories, as well as other gross human rights violations. State and corporate actors do not recognise or respect the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Instead, Indigenous dissent is used to legitimise violence, killings, and impunity.
While these trends are highly worrying, there are also windows of opportunity for safeguarding land tenure security emerging in some countries in the form of new laws and policies that Indigenous Peoples can use.
The world has become a more dangerous place for human rights defenders.
IWGIA’s support for partners on the ground who are mobilising and protesting the
injustice they face is now more important than ever. We will strengthen our focus
on providing secure and safe ways to continue working, building support and
solidarity networks, providing adequate training and legal support, and facilitating
urgent responses to rights defenders at risk in order to address the threats.
STRATEGIC FOCUS AREAS (2021-2025)
Documenting: We will increase and consolidate efforts to get land rights and related human rights violations exposed and denounced at all levels – local, national, and international. This will be done through regular monitoring and fact-finding missions and rigorous documentation through such interventions as urgent alerts, briefing papers, video documentaries, radio reports and human rights reports. Over the next five years, we will place particular emphasis on documenting and analysing the root causes of the violations in order to understand and be better equipped to address them.
Advocating: We will work with Indigenous Peoples, international human rights mechanisms and alliances to identify duty-bearers, including the home states of corporations, the corporations and states themselves, and the financial actors investing in them. We will engage in and support efforts to hold duty-bearers accountable, demand that violations are stopped and endeavour to ensure that effective redress and protection measures are put in place.
Empowering: We will support Indigenous communities (women, men and youth)
in their efforts to defend their land rights and to achieve land tenure security.
Over the next five years, we will invest additional focus in improving the security
of Indigenous Peoples, especially those who actively engage in the defence of
their rights and natural resources and are directly addressing the shrinking civic
space that many of our partners are increasingly experiencing.
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