CEESP Steering Committee News

The Executive Committee of CEESP met in Gland, 5 & 6 June 2010. The CEESP Steering Committee welcomed new member, Juanita Cabrera Lopez to TGER and farewelled two Co-Chairs from TILCEPA and TEMTI.

steeringcom.jpg Photo: CEESP

The Executive Committee of CEESP met in Gland, 5 & 6 June 2010 (a copy of the Exec Com Minutes is available on the CEESP website).

New Member

Juanita Cabrera-Lopez was appointed as Co-Chair of TGER, in June 2010, serving together with Co-Chair Janis B. Alcorn. Ms. Cabrera-Lopez is Maya Mam from Guatemala and has worked in defense of indigenous peoples´ human rights for over fifteen years. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Beloit College, and is working toward her M.A. in International Public Policy at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. In 2005 she worked in Guatemala at the Asociación de Comadronas del Área Mam (Mam Midwives Association) to support of emergency relief to communities. From 2006-2009 she worked at the Amazon Alliance (a network of environmental and indigenous organizations) where she collaborated with Amazonian indigenous organizations on issues related to infrastructure development, extractive industries, climate change and indigenous diplomacy. Since 2009 she is working at Indian Law Resource Center in Washington D.C., an NGO created to protect the lands, resources, human rights, environment and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples in the United States and in Mexico, Central and South America. She is assisting Indian Law Resource Center on diverse issues including Multilateral Development Banks and their compliance with international human rights law when financing projects impact or potentially impact indigenous peoples. She is also working with various organizations and U.S. Indian Nations on the U.S. review process of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the Organization of American States negotiation process for the American Declaration.

The CEESP Steering Committee also farewelled two members who resigned due to heavy work commitments, Peter May (TEMTI) and Jannie Lasimbang (TILCEPA)

Jannie Lasimbang, Greetings/ Kopivosian.

It is indeed with a lot of regret that I recently wrote a letter to Nigel, Aroha, Nik, Michel and Trevor to resign as co-Chair of TILCEPA due to a heavy workload after my recent appointment as a member of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM). Having accepted my resignation, I am writing formally to inform about this decision so that a process of selecting a new co-Chair can begin. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone - particularly Trevor, Aroha, Grazia and Ashish - for their support and guidance over the past year. It has been an important learning experience for me being in TILCEPA and I have tried my best to provide the necessary push and guidance related to indigenous peoples in a such a vast network with varied interests. I want to especially thank Nigel Crawhall for the close communication and coordination which helped to keep my contribution focused.

There are some exciting work through my current full-time involvement with the SUHAKAM after starting in June as a Commissioner for a 3-year term. In the two months that I have been a Commissioner, an Indigenous Peoples Rights Committee has been set up. I have also set a range of activities mainly focusing on the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples' rights related among others, to indigenous land, education, economy and legal systems. Although some of these rights are provided for in Malaysian laws, I consider it a violation of indigenous rights when there is inadequate attention or financial allocation by the State in implementing these legal provisions. There is also a huge gap in the understanding and therefore respect of indigenous systems, which has resulted in a systemic pattern of discrimination.

One key example is on land rights of indigenous peoples in Malaysia whereby native customary rights to land are not given due repect by the government and private companies when planning development projects or setting aside land for logging, plantations, dams, wildlife sanctuaries, parks or water catchment areas. Over the last 10 years, SUHAKAM has received numerous complaints from indigenous peoples all over the country involving lands taken for development or for protected areas. Resolution of these cases takes years, and because of this slow resolution of such cases, including court cases, SUHAKAM decided this month that it will conduct its first-ever National Inquiry focusing on land rights of indigenous peoples. The National Inquiry will involve research, consultations, and public hearings. It is envisaged that the National Inquiry will also generate public awareness of indigenous rights, clearly among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, and who have been victims of widespread, systematic and systemic discrimination.

That's my part of the story. I wish you all the best in your own struggle and I am sure we will have opportunities to meet in future. I will also continue to keep abreast with issues through the TILCEPA network and hope to contribute my energy where I can. Warm regards' Jannie Lasimbang 

Work area: 
Social Policy
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