For indigenous peoples, development is more than economic progress. It is about historical process of non-discrimination. It is about the respect and recognition of their political, economic, social and cultural rights. It is about decisions on their territories and on the use of the natural resources with the participation of those at stake, and with their free, prior and informed consent. It is about the consideration of their solutions to overcome problems or challenges, as primary stakeholders of development initiatives in their territories. It is not about International Financial Institutions imposing ‘developmental’ activities and/or projects in indigenous territories to be implemented by states. For them, development should be a self-determined development.
On April 18-20, 2014, Indigenous Peoples (IPs) from different Asian nations will be attending a three-day training on International Financial Institutions Safeguards and Grievance Mechanisms for Indigenous Peoples in Sagada, Mt. Province, organised by the the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and the Bank Information Center and hosted by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
Reportedly, the remaining natural resources worldwide are in indigenous territories. Yet indigenous peoples have been on the losing end of the development process as these natural resources have become valuable targets for extraction and exploitation. Indigenous peoples maintain that International Financial Institutions (IFIs) paved way for their disastrous experiences in Bank-financed projects in their lands and territories. IPs have also registered serious complaints about how IFI projects affect their rights and well-being.
Thus, the three-day training will provide the participating indigenous peoples the needed capacity and skills on the documentation of IP rights violations and/or the monitoring of the IFI projects which will make them efficient in their advocacy and lobby work for the assertion of their collective rights against projects adversely affecting their communities.
The training will also serve as a venue for the participants to share their engagement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB) in their struggles for the defense of their land, life, and rights.
As indigenous peoples are proactively seeking to influence different IFI operational policies, some of the policies– World Bank OP 4.10, ADB Safeguard Policy Statement on 2012, and International Finance Corporation Performance Standard – will be discussed as these are seen as incompatible with the indigenous peoples’ rights.Safeguard requirements, particularly on the environment and on involuntary resettlement, concerning indigenous peoples will also be presented. And since indigenous peoples, organizations and communities have been vocal on the negative effects of IFI projects, different grievance mechanisms will be discussed and reviewed so as the participants will be aware of the appropriate complaints to be filed – whether to prevent, terminate, mitigate and/or remediate harmful business activities.
Given the aforementioned agenda, the training hopes to capacitate indigenous representatives in insisting that the respect for their rights in relation to development is not simply a discretionary option for the IFIs, but an obligation that is incumbent on all subjects of international law.
Ms. Bestang Dekdeken, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
Ms. Robie Halip, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)