While there are victories in the United Nations systems, empowerment of indigenous peoples at the grassroots is fundamental in pushing for the realization of international standards and declarations on IP rights.
The Global Grassroots Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Workshop on Self-Determination which will be held in Guina-ang, Pasil, Kalinga on April 24, 2014 will significantly contribute to the aforementioned statement. This is organized by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and Land is Life bringing together grassroots IPs from all over the world for a cross-learning workshop facilitating a venue for the IPs to learn from the concrete experiences in the assertion of the right to self-determination at variouslevels and forms.It will help in providing a deeper understanding on the theory and practice of self-determination towards a stronger solidarity and richer framework and strategies in engaging States, United Nations systems and multi-lateral bodies and even corporations.
Self-determination is beyond UN systems
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 is a quantum victory for the international struggle for the recognition of IP rights. It was however a long overdue for the IPs worldwide who, since time immemorial share common problems including the plunder of their lands, territories and natural resources; national oppression; non-recognition of their identity as indigenous peoples and their right to self-determination; racism; chauvinism and discrimination; human rights abuses; displacement due to so called development projects and concomitant militarization among many others.
After the UNDRIP, there have been increasing concerns raised by IPs relative to its implementation especially in the grassroots. Hence, in December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution organizing the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) on September 22-23, 2014 aimed at sharing perspectives and best practices in realizing the rights of IPs including the pursuit for the objectives of the UNDRIP. Grassroots IPs however believe that advancing the right to self-determination goes beyond WCIP or any UN mechanism. They are determined to pursue this right in various levels in different arena of struggles. This can be seen in the establishment of IPMSDL in 2010 among various indigenous peoples organizations and advocates. Also in June 2012, Indigenous Peoples Global Conference on Rio+20 and Mother Earth was held in Brazil and came out with a declaration articulating the current development paradigm characterized by neoliberalism which is a hindranceto genuine development for IPs and runs contrary to their right to self-determination.
Empowerment for effective engagement
While grassroots IPs are waging various struggles in resolutely pushing for self-determination, it is equally important to effectively engage in the WCIP. The April 24 workshop will then delve on the rich experiencesof IP struggles and movements for self-determination in different contexts worldwide; draw lessons; identify gaps and difficulties; build stronger solidarity and agree on common strategy and concrete actions for effective engagement to WCIP 2014 and Beyond.
The participants of the workshop will also attend the 30th Cordillera Day, the biggest annual political and solidarity gathering of IPs in the Cordillera region, Philippines guided by the theme, Defend Our Land from Imperialist Plunder! Assert Our Right to Self-Determination! This would further expose the grassroots IPs to a concrete long running battle for self-determination.They will learn from the historic beginning of the Cordillera Day which was a concrete assertion of collective rights to self-determination with the successful struggle against the World Bank Funded Chico River dams in the 1980s. Courage will be drawn from a strong solidarity forged between various tribes of Mt. Province and Kalinga despite the killing of Cordillera martyr, Macliing Dulag that aimed at suppressing the resisting IPs. This solidarity in action finally made the total stoppage of the mega dams that were supposed to submerged their lands and territories.
With the same pressing issues experienced up to this time including heightening extrajudicial killings on IP rights defenders in the Cordillera Region and worldwide, a stronger and enduring solidarity among Global grassroots indigenous peoples should be forged.
Mr. Windel Bolinget