The year 2011 has proven to be another milestone for AIPP. In almost all areas of work, AIPP has made significant advances in awareness raising, capacity building, and lobby and advocacy on indigenous peoples’ rights and issues in Asia. Substantive gains were also attained in solidarity building, networking and resource mobilization at all levels—from local to global. These would not have been possible without the achievements of the previous years, complemented by a stronger Regional Secretariat and a committed Executive Council.
The activities of AIPP were scaled-up according to key issues and priorities of its members. As a result, AIPP has become more visible at the local, national, regional and international levels. New areas of work were initiated and emerging issues were addressed, such as the scoping on community-based climate change adaptation; the research on the reproductive health of indigenous women; and indigenous peoples and International Financial Institutions (IFI). Funds to support Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders (IPHRDs) at risk were raised. Direct partnerships with member organizations have increased, leading to the stronger capacities and advocacy work on the ground.
The Human Rights (HRCPA) Program continued to sustain the implementation of key lobby and advocacy activities at the international and regional levels. AIPP has now been recognized as the voice of and lead organization on indigenous peoples’ concerns in ASEAN through sustained engagement with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), with civil society organizations and other institutions. Engagements with UN mechanisms relating to indigenous peoples and human rights have become more organized due to more effective facilitation and coordination of AIPP on the participation of Asian indigenous peoples.
These efforts were complemented by training on human rights documentation, diplomacy and advocacy at the regional and national levels. The Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders Network continued to gain strength as a result of these efforts. The financial support generated by AIPP in 2011 from the European Commission is instrumental in ensuring long-term support to the work of IPHRDs, especially at the local and national levels.
The Regional Capacity Building (RCB) Program was able to conduct training on leadership, advocacy on the UNDRIP, and community organizing in 10 countries under the Indigenous Learning Institute (ILI). The Training Manual for Leadership Training and Community Organizing, enriched by the training done in the past three years, was published for wider use. The program has started developing the Training Manual for Indigenous Elders and Governance aimed at strengthening indigenous elders and their leadership roles, and promoting indigenous governance systems. The Training Manual on Financial Management for Community Organizations has also been drafted. The ongoing collection of information for the resource database of indigenous peoples’ organizations and leaders in Asia, and compilation of training resources, on the other hand, have been enhanced.
While the implementation of the Research and Communication Development (RCD) Program’ activities lagged in the first quarter due to the absence of a full time staff, it has, however, been able to implement most of the targeted activities on information dissemination. Its information activities have reached a wide audience at the grassroots level. The program also started collection of relevant audio-visual materials on indigenous peoples and issues in a more systematic manner that is made available to member organizations. Three websites of AIPP were improved and regularly updated while coordination on community media was started, albeit at a limited level.
The Indigenous Women (IW) Program expanded its work through several initiatives. This included a targeted research on the reproductive health of indigenous women in selected communities in five countries, and a project to support victims of trafficking and child labor in North East India. The ongoing implementation of the UN Women-supported project on the empowerment of indigenous women has achieved positive impacts on the ground—raising aware ness on the rights of women and indigenous peoples, mobilizing indigenous women in defense of their rights, and creating positive changes in the behavior of men towards women. Five specific training manuals customized to the needs of indigenous women in the project areas in three countries were developed and published. Inter-community level training (ICT) of indigenous women on leadership, advocacy, lobby and networking were also conducted at the community level. Increased participation of indigenous women in different activities at various levels has also been achieved. However, mainstreaming of indigenous women’s specific concerns needs further improvement, coupled with effective participation of indigenous women in all activities.
The Environment Program (EP) was created this year by merging two programs— the Climate Change Program and the Program on Biological Diversity and Traditional Knowledge. This newly established program was able to achieve increased awareness and capacities on REDD+ and climate change at the grassroots level. At the international level, AIPP contributed significantly in the concerted lobby and advocacy of indigenous peoples in the UNFCCC and CBD processes. It expanded its networking on climate change, resulting in additional support and channels for awareness raising and advocacy at the regional level. Engagement and cooperation with UN agencies such as UNEP, FAO and the GEF were enhanced. Four major publications on REDD+, community forest conservation and indigenous peoples, climate change and REDD+ in ASEAN were published and widely distributed.
AIPP has also made substantive gains in the area of organizational strengthening. As a regional federation of indigenous peoples, it continued to strengthen and expand its scope of work with the addition of nine candidate members from five countries—Thailand, Lao and Cambodia, India, and the Philippines. Increased direct partnerships of the Regional Secretariat with member organizations have also brought about enhanced capacities and cooperation on an increased number of activities on the ground. In 2011, AIPP had 24 member partners (member organizations) in 13 countries and 18 non-member partners in 10 countries.
AIPP’s governance structures consistently demonstrate transparent, accountable and responsive leadership. Its finance management has been further improved with the implementation of updated finance policies and guidelines. Funding support to AIPP programs has also grown with additional donors to the different programs. As a result, six new staff members were added in 2011 for expanded program implementation. The total number of regional staff now stands at 18, including the Secretary General. Skills and knowledge of the Regional Secretariat were enhanced through an effective staff development program.
In July this year, an external evaluation of AIPP covering the period January 2005 to May 2011 was conducted. The evaluation surfaced the following findings:
- AIPP has significantly contributed to raising the visibility and promoting the aspirations of indigenous peoples in Asia inter alia through research, documentation, publications, advocacy and networking at regional and international levels;
- AIPP has contributed in empowering members and networks and enhanced their capacity to work locally and nationally on their priority concerns;
- AIPP has achieved increased international and regional understanding and recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights as reflected in the substantial policy influence and cooperation with UN agencies, donors, human rights organizations, NGOs and, to some extent, governments;
- AIPP has been instrumental in building solidarity of indigenous peoples in the region and beyond, and facilitated in defining common positions within the global indigenous movement, e.g., in the context of climate change policies;
- AIPP has been successful in bringing civil society leaders together with resistance groups for dialogue in situations of conflict;
- AIPP is inspiring indigenous organizations and movements in other regions, particularly Africa and Latin America, as an exemplary regional formation.
The year 2011 has indeed been a year of dramatic growth for AIPP—but with these achievements come more challenges. As AIPP continues to gain strength, there is a necessity to sustain this momentum and bring the indigenous peoples movement in Asia to a higher level. AIPP therefore needs to continue to build its own capacities at all levels, and find ways and means to further develop its self-reliance.
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