Tuesday, 20 July 2010

JOAS Climate Change focal point comments on Civil Society excluded from interim REDD partnership meeting

JOAS Climate Change focal point, Jen Rubis, comments on Civil Society excluded from interim REDD partnership meeting in Brazil.

16 July 2010

While certainly this train of events for is alarming for civil society, I would say that for Indigenous Peoples, it was even worse. The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is a long-existing platform open to all Indigenous Peoples and that serves as the IPO constituency at the UNFCCC and one that brings together IP organizations and networks from local to national, regional and international levels. Neither the IIPFCC or even indigenous organizations that are active at the IIPFCC had received any invitations, funded or otherwise by the Interim REDD+ Partnership to the meeting in Brazil. Certainly it represents a step backwards from the Government of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative (NCFI) meeting in May 2010, the precursor to this Initiative, where Indigenous Peoples were invited, though only as observers.

Jen Rubis at the COP 15 UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations, Copenhagen 2009.
Photo by
Ben Powless

All these leads to the worrying trend that, despite promising steps in the proposed international regulatory framework for REDD regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, there is little prioritization for putting the principle of full and effective participation into practice. The participation of Indigenous Peoples is a right internationally recognized in various conventions and international agreements to which all parties to the Partnership have signed on to.

Participation in the process is not equal agreeing to or endorsing the REDD+ Partnership, and in no way tantamount to the free, prior, informed consent of the rightsholders. However it is a necessary pre-condition to Indigenous Peoples being able to make a decision, without prejudice to the outcome of the decision. Furthermore, full and effective participation has to be facilitated and supported at all levels and it is not participation when decisions on when and who to participate are not made by Indigenous Peoples through our own processes but by other parties.

We as Indigenous Peoples continue to state that we are rightholders in this process. Our participation is only one aspect of our rightful and legitimate concerns regarding the REDD+ partnership process. The lack of our participation is in itself a violation of our rights by governments. The trend to not even acknowledge our participation as stakeholders is alarming and does little to reassure us that

1, governments are serious and determined to stop the violations of our human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights; that these violations will not continue at international and national level and that REDD will not contribute to these violations; and

2, that this hasty process of implementation, without participation or even consultation, will bring about the result that the governments are trying to achieve i.e. real, meaningful reductions in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Jen is a Dayak, from Sarawak and the Climate Change focal point for the Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia (JOAS)

Friday, 16 July 2010

JOAS statement at the EMRIP 3rd session - Agenda Item 4

Statement of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalysia (JOAS)
[Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia]
To agenda item 4 Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you Mr. Chairman Kopivosian, Salam Sejahtera

This statement is made on behalf of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia, the national umbrella body of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in Malaysia.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates,

Malaysia consists of three regions namely Peninsular Malaysia and the two Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak. Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia is very diverse, consisting of over 80 groups of peoples with unique cultures, language and traditions that have co-existed in a pluralistic society for generations. Malaysia has a two-tier government, federal and state, and both have legislative powers. The federal government has jurisdiction over matters such as foreign affairs, defense/internal security, finance, communications, transportation and education. The individual states have control over their natural resources such as land, water, forest, agriculture and minerals, besides having their own constitutions and executive legislature.

Malaysia supported the adoption of the Unite Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) both at the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, however since the adoption of this declaration; there is still minimal progress in its implementation in the national and local level.

Mr. Chairman,

In Malaysia, there are numerous court cases that have been filed by our Indigenous Peoples’ communities for their Native Customary Rights (NCR) due to development aggression and large scale land grabbing on their territories. The UNDRIP have been used extensively by our lawyers in these court case litigations and this have resulted in several land mark judgments that have upheld our rights. But despite all this, we still find it difficult to get our government and its agencies to put any reference to UNDRIP in official documents or negotiations often using the excuse that the declaration is a non binding document. Let us remind our government that this document is already in the human rights charter and other international law which it has obligations to implement. The UNDRIP should be the minimum standard when it come to respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

With this regards Mr. Chairman, ever since the adoption of the UNDRIP, we the indigenous peoples of Malaysia have been facing uphill task to promote and demand the implementation of the declaration in our country mainly due to the low awareness of our governments and communities with regards to the UNDRIP in our country.

Since the adoption of the declaration in 2007, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) has conducted numerous road show and workshops around the country to create the awareness of our community about the declaration. We also have worked closely with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to promote the declaration including the translation and publication of the declaration to national the languages. We also produced simplified version of the declaration in popular materials such as leaflets, booklet and posters to help our communities to understand the essence of the declaration. We thank our national human rights commission for their support in co-organizing several workshops and trainings in the local level to increase the awareness of our communities and the local government about the UNDRIP.

We believe that the UNDRIP can be mainstreamed in our country through continuous active engagement with our governments. In this instance we have done a comparative policy study to examine the laws of our country to indentify the gaps that needs to be amended in line with the declaration. This comparative study will be submitted to our government for urgent action. We the indigenous peoples of Malaysia believe that the UNDRIP can provide a venue for pluralism to happen in our country.

We demand our government to adopt the UNDRIP as a law and provide a national platform that can ensure its full implementation in Malaysia. JOAS wish to extend its willingness and support to make this to happen.

I would like to conclude by urging the EMRIP to recommend the following to the Human Rights Council

• To establish and strengthen programs to promote the UNDRIP in the local, national and regional level.

• To provide resources for Indigenous Peoples Organization to promote the declaration in the Local and National level in line with the program of work of the Second Decade of Indigenous Peoples.

• To urge governments to integrate the UNDRIP in national laws and policies.

• To establish a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the UNDRIP in the national and regional level.

• To request the EMRIP to evaluate the implementation of the UNDRIP in line with other conventions and treaties as part of the commitments and obligations by the governments at the national level

Thank you Mr. Chairman for this opportunity to address this agenda item.

Kotohuandan om kounsikaan, Terima kasih

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Global Indigenous Youth Caucus Intervention at the 3rd Session of the EMRIP

Global Indigenous Youth Caucus Intervention to the 3rd Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Agenda Item 3: Study on Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Participate in Decision-Making 13 July 2010

This is the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus’ first official presence at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We sincerely hope we will be welcoming more youth to join us in future sessions. Whilst the progress report gives us a comprehensive overview to the participation of Indigenous Peoples in decision-making, indigenous youth is only mentioned in paragraph 62 and the role of indigenous youth in decision-making is poorly addressed.

Indigenous youth and children globally represent some 50 to 70% of the total indigenous population. Despite this, we are often excluded and ignored from discussions where decisions affecting us are made. There is a desperate need to involve indigenous youth as stakeholders in decision-making processes on the national and international level as we as youth hold a key position between our indigenous tradition and modernized structures. We are carrying the great value of being familiar with both, thus play an integral part in the formation of indigenous identities and the continuation and sustainability of cultural practices and traditions. It is critical that we have full and effective participation in decision-making processes, so our voices can be heard, allowing us to identify our needs and act accordingly.

Echoing the study, we prepared a situation analysis on indigenous youth’s participation in decision-making process based on information and input provided by the members of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus worldwide.

Key points drawn from the analysis follow:

1. At the community level, format and degree of youth’s participation in decision-making vary. While some youth are intensively included in cross-generational connections and communications with their elders, others are not permitted to express their opinions with ultimate decision making lying with elders. Native models of congenial cross-generational communication should be put forward for consideration at the UN and in decision-making process on all levels.

2. In most countries, indigenous youth are not represented in the federal, state or local government. Indigenous focused political parties are not common. If present they rarely place indigenous youth on the agenda. In most countries the turnout of indigenous youth in elections is low. There are often cases where indigenous youth are excluded from the election process because they are not able to acquire legal documents. As youth make up a considerable part of the indigenous population and as we are the future work force. If not included in this process today, we face a bleak outlook for all indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making tomorrow.

3. Many governments claim that “youth are the best experts on young people’s lives”. However this does not carry over to policy that affects us; education, vocational training, cultural survival and environmental protection policies are often made by senior officers without any input from youth, or consultation with indigenous youth.

4. Indigenous youth participants can be spotted in many regional and international gatherings. However, may I ask everyone who is under age of 24 to raise your hand? (Thank you.) As can be seen here, it is obvious that the number of indigenous youth representatives present in international occasion is still low. Financial constraint is often but not the only issue. Members of the Youth Caucus have been denied entry to international conferences due to visa, accreditation, or political interference.

5. Indigenous youth is in general a strong and dynamic force in the grassroots movements for the rights of indigenous peoples. Numerous indigenous organizations are generated from the indigenous youth, dealing with practical promotion and development of indigenous culture and language among young people. We do this through advocacy, lobbying, awareness raising, demonstration and protest against governmental and non-governmental policies that have adverse effects on indigenous peoples and our cultural identity. However, in some areas, indigenous youth are not allowed to establish their own associations of any kind.

6. Other key obstacles that hinder youth’s participation include, cultural constraint, lack of access to adequate information, poor understanding of information, deprivation of our rights to learn about our rights and relevant international instruments. Our education does not adequately reflect our indigenous heritage and the specific needs and world view of indigenous youth. There is general exclusion from capacity-building processes and lack of motivation to participate.

This situation analysis reflects indigenous youth from various participating Global Indigenous Youth Caucus countries that demonstrate their interaction and participation in decision-making roles. We respectfully call upon the Experts to include the importance of indigenous youth and their participation in decision-making in the final study. We further call for support of any kind to assist the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus in compiling a more detailed and comprehensive study of indigenous youth and their participation in decision-making.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

JOAS statement at the EMRIP 3rd session - Agenda Item 3

Statement of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalysia (JOAS)
[Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia]
To agenda item 3 Study on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision making.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on behalf of Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia for your election as Chairperson of this session. We would like to also congratulate you and your fellow experts for compiling the draft report. We are very happy that our submission to the EMRIP has been incorporated in the document.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished delegates,

We, the Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia, have very distinct cultures and relations to our land, territories and resources. We strive to maintain these distinct values through our Adat and values that have been passed down to us from our ancestors for generations. We have lived and nurtured our traditional knowledge, innovations and practices since time immemorial, making us the true custodians of our land, territories and resources.

In Malaysia, we have very unique situation where customary law and its institutions in the state of Sabah and Sarawak are recognize by the federal and state constitutions. However, throughout the years we have seen the erosion of our customary institutions due to government appointments of our customary leaders, bypassing our traditional way of selecting our leaders. This has resulted in the weakening of our traditional leadership system which has undermined our effective participation in decision making. This is clearly a violation to our rights to self determination and self governance.

As a result of the weakening of our leadership system, development aggression has resulted in loss and misery of countless number of communities through logging, large scale plantations, mining, mega dams, protected areas and other infrastructures. These is a direct result in the lack of participation of the indigenous peoples in the decision making process. The government is been given inaccurate information about the real situation by the project proponents because the indigenous peoples is not involved in planning of such development. Local and international cooperation continues to disregard the need for Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) before any development in our territories; they have no fear and pay little attention to our demand for dialogue as they see that they have full backing from the authorities.

With regards to the thematic study on the right to participate in decision making; we would like to stress that FPIC process is not a mere consultations process but a process to assert our rights to self determination. FPIC is not enough to protect our rights if the erosion and political intervention by the government that result in the weakening of our leadership which undermines our rights to participate in decision making process. The weakening of our traditional leadership has failed our communities since the government appointed leaders does not bring the aspirations of our communities. They had become mere eyes and mouth of the government in the system that is designed to be top down decision making process.

Our grave concern particularly on the Orang Asli community on the lack of representation in the government, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs continues to disregard the plight of Orang Asli on the land ownership matters. Despite memorandum after memorandum submitted to our government by our Orang Asli brothers and sisters to protest on the amendment to the Orang Asli Land Allocation Policy, the department continued with the amendment.

We have received numerous complaints from our Orang Asli brother and sisters that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs also continues to make decision on behalf of the Orang Asli without the full and effective participation. Dialogue are organized merely to get rubber stamping from the community even there were voices of protest, but these voices of protest is not taken into consideration.

But despite all these, we would like take note of the recent development. The formation of the Selangor Orang Asli Land Task Force which is to facilitate the process to indentify and demarcate the customary land of indigenous peoples in the state and an effort to solve age old issues. The action is done by the indigenous peoples themselves using participatory mapping with full participation of indigenous communities concerned. We hope that this good practice of using new tools and providing platform to the indigenous peoples’ community can also be replicated in other states all over Malaysia.

In conclusion, We wish to recommend the following;

1) EMRIP to study the impact of the state imposed committees to the traditional leadership and participation of Indigenous Peoples in decision making.

2) EMRIP to further improve the study on the participation of women and youths

3) EMRIP to include in the study the useful tools and platforms that can help in ensuring the rights to participate in decision making

4) EMRIP to recommend to the Human Rights Council to organize a global round table discussion on FPIC.

Kotohuadan, Terima Kasih ,

Thank you Mr. Chairman