WCC Decisions on Indigenous Peoples Discussed at UN Meeting

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and TILCEPA held a lunchtime event at the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) of the UN Human Rights Council on 12 August 2009 in Geneva. The event highlighted IUCN's 4th World Conservation Congress (WCC) decisions on the rights of indigenous peoples in relation to conservation and natural resources, and discussed ways to advance implementation of rights-based approaches to conservation in indigenous peoples' lands or territories and resources. The event presentations are available here.

Ms Jannie Lasimbang, TILCEPA Co-Chair, speaking about customary law and governance, stated that the main challenge indigenous peoples face today concerns access to and control of resources in indigenous territories, in line with customary laws and institutions. Ms Lasimbang, elected Chair of the EMRIP, suggested ways in which the UN mechanism could address this challenge.

Ms Paola Ciocia, from IUCN Headquarters, presented key WCC resolutions relevant to indigenous peoples, and highlighted provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) important for IUCN's work, with special reference to protected areas.

Mr Mahmoud Marmouri (Africa), Mr Adrian Lasimbang (Asia) and Mr Jorge Nawel (Latin America) presented experiences of indigenous peoples in their respective regions regarding conservation and natural resource management. They provided examples of how rights-based approaches to natural resource governance supports both indigenous peoples' interests and conservation objectives. The indigenous panel stressed the importance of the UNDRIP for conservation, and the value of IUCN's approaches, particularly on protected areas, to support indigenous rights and claims at the national level. The speakers emphasized their interest to work with IUCN to inform governments on ways to bring national laws, policies and practices in line with UNDRIP and IUCN policies.

Facilitated by Mr Maurizio Fahran-Ferrari of the Forest Peoples Programme (IUCN member), the meeting expressed commitment to continue promoting dialogue processes on issues such as redress and compensation, to establish action plans to materialize rights-based approaches to conservation, and to promote UNDRIP and IUCN WCC resolutions and recommendations among governments. The event presentations are available here.