Indigenous Peoples' Participation in the sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Since the 29th session in April 2001, indigenous people have been participating in the sessions of the African Commission. They have been speaking in the public sessions, lobbying their governments and networking with other human rights NGOs across Africa.

The presence of indigenous people has sent a clear message to the African Commission that indigenous peoples in Africa suffer from gross and widespread human rights violations and their input has been important in terms of convincing the African Commission to prioritize the promotion and protection of their rights. So far 5-12 indigenous representatives have been participating in each session of the African Commission and their participation has mainly been funded by IWGIA.

Indigenous organisations with observer status

Several indigenous organizations have applied for observer status with the African Commission, and until now the following have been granted observer status:

  • Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Africa generally
  • Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), Kenya
  • Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT), Kenya
  • The Ogiek Welfare Council (OWC), Kenya
  • Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE), Kenya
  • Endorois Welfare Council, Kenya
  • Ogiek Peoples Development Program, Kenya
  • Arid Lands Institute, Kenya
  • Mbororo Socio-Cultural and Develpment Association (MBOSCUDA), Cameroon
  • Unissons-Nous pour la Promotion des Batwa (UNIPROBA), Burundi
  • PINGOs Forum, Tanzania
  • Community Research and Development Services (CORDS), Tanzania
  • Communautés des Potiers du Rwanda (COPORWA ASBL), Rwanda

Organizations with observer status are invited to all sessions of the African Commissions and are allowed to speak in the public sessions. Organizations that wish to apply for observer status should contact the secretariat of the African Commission (www.achpr.org).

The NGO Forum and indigenous issues

Indigenous representatives have increasingly found it important to participate in the NGO Forums which is organised by The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies prior to each of the sessions, in order to raise awareness of their specific situation, to establish contacts and exchange experiences with likeminded organisations, as well as to network with all the participating human rights NGOs.

The NGO Forum seeks to promote networking between African as well as international NGOs, and also seeks to strengthen cooperation between the various NGOs and the African Commission, all with a view to protecting human rights in Africa.

Along with other topics, there have been sub-groups during the past four NGO Forums on the situation of minorities and indigenous peoples, and resolutions have been passed and presented to the African Commission.