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Defending the Defenders: Recommendations from the conference

Recent reports by UN experts and human rights organizations document an alarming increase in violent attacks against and criminalisation of indigenous peoples defending their rights to their traditional lands and natural resources, particularly in the context of large-scale development projects. Intensifying global competition over natural resources increasingly makes indigenous communities taking action to protect their traditional lands and territories targets of persecution by State and non-State actors who want to silence them and dissuade others to support them.

Especially in Latin America, Africa and Asia, Indigenous leaders and community members voicing opposition to development or investment projects are often subjected to criminalization, harassment, threats, violent attacks and killings. A report on human rights defenders killed worldwide in 2017, which documents murders of 312 human rights defenders in 27 countries, shows that 67 % of the persons killed were engaged in the defence of land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights and nearly always in the context of mega projects, extractive industry and big business. The risks faced by indigenous human rights defenders are exacerbated by the widespread impunity for the perpetrators of the crimes and attacks against them.

An international conference focused on solutions

To address these issues, an international conference entitled “Defending the Defenders: New alliances for protecting indigenous peoples’ rights” took place on 5-6 September 2018 in Copenhagen, organized by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The objectives of the conference were to gather a broad range of relevant actors to get a better understanding of the key drivers behind this alarming trend and identify possible actions at the international, regional and national levels that could help change the situation and protect indigenous human rights defenders. Another important aim of the conference was to build new alliances for protecting indigenous peoples’ rights and defending the defenders.

Julie Koch, Executive Director at IWGIA

Julie Koch, Executive Director at IWGIA

To a large degree, perpetrators of crimes against indigenous peoples continue to act with impunity. We all have an obligation to do our best to stop this. We need to act.

Here you can browse through the Outcome Document, containing 10 recommendations that resulted from the conference. This document also gives an overview of the discussions held among indigenous human rights defenders, representatives and experts from different regions, regional and national human rights institutions; as well as representatives of governments, indigenous institutions, non-governmental organizations, foundations, academic institutions, and the private sector.

DOWNLOAD the outcome document for free here >>

Tags: Global governance



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

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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