Independent report on WWF-linked human rights abuses shows conservation sector needs root and branch change

Killings, torture, sexual and physical violence and intimidation have no place in conservation

  • A report commissioned due to intense media pressure reveals systemic problems resulting in violence and abuse in protected areas managed or supported by WWF and major problems in WWF’s organisational approach to human rights
  • Systematic denial of traditional and customary rights to lands underpins the emergence of violence, intimidation and other human rights abuses in protected areas
  • Global inter-governmental negotiations seek a doubling of protected areas over the next 10 years, creating significant further risks of dispossession of customary rightsholders from their territories.   

WWF has financed and provided technical support to conservation projects that have been rife with human rights violations including rape, murder and intimidation, and WWF failed to deal with these issues adequately, confirms a review (released yesterday) into WWF’s global operations.

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The right to prior consultation in Mexico: its shortfalls and limitations

Indigenous peoples walk towards the rally in front of the Chinameca farm, 100 years after the murder of Emiliano Zapata. Photo: Daliri Oropeza

While we now have a government that has promised to be democratic and to govern for the masses of people, under its rule the same old colonial and hegemonic relations towards the Indigenous Peoples are being replicated. Far from implementing the international recommendations concerning Indigenous Peoples’ right to prior consultation, the current government is carrying out fraudulent consultative processes to approve infrastructure projects that hamper Indigenous communities.

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The surprising link between the fight against drugs, land dispossession and attacks on Indigenous rights defenders in Peru

Arbildo Meléndez Grandes was killed while out hunting and fishing to provide for his family. Photo: Aidesep.

Despite its function being to fight drug trafficking, the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA) has been financing the titling of lands claimed by Indigenous People in favour of individuals who indiscriminately cut down forests and practice illegal agriculture. Far from providing a response, the public body denies all responsibility, instead of shifting it onto regional governments. Meanwhile, attacks on Indigenous leaders and harassment of Amazonian communities are mounting.

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The end of the illusion for Indigenous Peoples in Colombia

Demonstration of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia. PhotoArchivo Semana

The Peace Agreement signed in 2016 between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) raised hopes among the Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant populations and peasant communities that they might henceforward be able to live in peace on their territories. However, Iván Duque’s new government has not fulfilled its side of the agreement and, far from incorporating areas abandoned by the guerrilla into the institutional life of the country, the end result is that these areas have been left to their own devices. Paramilitary groups are now free to compete for control of the territory and to murder social leaders as a way of subjugating rural populations. In addition to anti-personnel mines and forced confinements, massacres became an added mechanism for exerting this pressure in 2020. 

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Indigenous Peoples and land rights in Myanmar

Community, part of the Karen people. Photo: Alejandro Parellada 

After resisting the policy of forced assimilation enforced during the decades of military rule, today Indigenous peoples of Myanmar are subjected to land dispossession in the name of boosting economic development and implementation of the country’s climate commitments.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

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DK 1422 Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
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