Application Form for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) applying for Consultative Relationship with the AICHR is now available.

Those wishing to have their application discussed in the next AICHR Meeting which will be held from 27 to 29 November 2015, please submit the Application Form along with supporting documents by 1st November 2015.

  Application Form for Consultative Relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) (20.4 KiB, 264 hits)

For more details, please refer to:

  Guidelines on the AICHR’s Relations with Civil Society Organisations (525.6 KiB, 933 hits)

– See more at: http://aichr.org/news/consultative-relationship-with-the-aichr/#sthash.Ed7Y2OOf.dpuf


Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation

BARCELONA – Indigenous people and local communities lack legal rights to almost three quarters of their traditional lands, sparking social conflict and undermining international plans to curb poverty, hunger and climate change, researchers said.

A study released on Wednesday by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) showed that 10 percent of land in 64 countries analysed is owned by indigenous people and local communities, and 8 percent is controlled or managed by them.

Yet they claim or have customary use of as much as 65 percent of the world’s land area.

The new figures highlight “the catastrophic failure of governments to respect the basic land rights of more than 1 billion people”, said Andy White, coordinator of RRI, a global coalition working on forest policy.

“Now there is absolutely no mystery why there is so much conflict in the rural world, and why there is so much violence over investments and agriculture and mining in those areas,” White told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The first of 17 new global goals adopted by the United Nations on Friday, on ending poverty, commits to ensuring that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to ownership and control over land by 2030.

White said that most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were connected with land, because it is the basis of survival for the world’s poor.

The RRI study showed the huge disconnect between local people and governments over land rights, he said.

“It’s very clear now that the SDGs will fail unless governments address this crisis,” he said.

The countries studied for the RRI report cover 82 percent of global land and different types of ecosystem from forests to drylands.

Twelve of them are included in the World Bank’s list of fragile countries, and in these, only 2 percent of the land is controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities, and a fraction of 1 percent is owned by them, the report said.

White said this highlighted the importance of tackling land rights issues in efforts to help countries recover from war.

In Liberia, for example, the government has been working on a draft Land Rights Act that would formally recognise customary tenure without titling. But there are concerns this may not apply to commercial concessions already agreed, which cover around three quarters of the country’s land, the report said.


At a conference in Bern, Switzerland, on strengthening community land rights, experts said laws and policies exist, and court decisions are made, to enforce those rights, but governments often ignore them.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said she had seen a “retreat” in implementation by governments – from the Philippines to Brazil, India and Paraguay – causing increased conflicts over land ownership, use and management.

“Indigenous rights are sacrificed by governments when they enter into … investment and free trade agreements,” she said.

Tauli-Corpuz blamed the dominant economic model of growth, “incessant” consumption and unsustainable production patterns for ongoing displacement of indigenous peoples and violations of their human rights.

“States comply more with investment and free trade agreements because these have heavier sanctions in terms of economic payments,” she said. “But for the human rights conventions, there are no such sanctions … and that is one of the weaknesses.”

Past studies have found that forest dwellers and other local communities conserve their territories best, preventing planet-warming carbon emissions from trees and the soil and thus slowing climate change, the RRI said.

The report said that around two thirds of the lands recognised as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and local communities are found in just five countries: China, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Mexico.

Nearly 90 percent of the countries studied have at least one law on the books that could be used to legally recognise land rights, it said.

In 2013, for example, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled government control of customary forests invalid. If implemented, this judgment could increase the amount of land controlled by local people from 0.25 percent of national territory to around 23 percent, the report said.

“Without rights to the lands that we live on, indigenous peoples in Indonesia get pushed aside without free prior and informed consent, for industrial projects like palm oil plantations and strip mines,” said Rukka Sombolinggi of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN).

White said a small number of companies had begun to realise that riding roughshod over communities would harm their investments, and were seeking fairer deals with those living on the land they want to exploit.

A separate analysis, released by consultancy TMP Systems, showed that of 262 agriculture, energy and mining sector disputes, conflicts with local populations had a materially significant impact on investors in 67 percent of cases.

A campaign to double the area of land recognised as owned or controlled by indigenous peoples and communities by 2020, backed by a coalition of groups, will kick off early next year, development charity Oxfam told the Bern meeting.


  • From left to right: ADB Vice-President Stephen P. Groff; Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon; and Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – Implementation of the newly agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, inclusive of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be supported in Asia and the Pacific by a renewed partnership forged on Tuesday by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York.Heads of state and ministers, private sector and civil society representatives, as well as senior officials of international organizations from Asia and the Pacific shared perspectives on addressing key implementation challenges for sustainable development in the region and supported the partnership at a joint side event on the theme Making it Happen: Transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to SDGs in Asia and the Pacific.

At a signing ceremony ahead of the high-level forum, ESCAP, UNDP and ADB announced that they will deepen their existing collaboration to advance regional action to end poverty and inequality, support better environmental stewardship, and promote shared prosperity and well-being for all. This will be achieved by facilitating high-level policy dialogues and capacity building services, delivering quality knowledge products and promoting strategic development cooperation in the region.

Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, emphasized that a different approach to inclusive growth and sustainable development is urgently needed to ensure the success of the 2030 Agenda in the countries of Asia and the Pacific. “Our regional experience, and relative success in MDG achievement, has set the stage for implementation of the SDGs,” said Ms. Akhtar. “What we need now is a focus on areas such as financing, science, technology and innovation – and in this context we have to lead on policy consistency and coherence.”

“Building the future we want requires mainstreaming sustainable development in national plans and budgets, and backing them with strong follow-up and review at the regional level.”

Stephen P. Groff, Vice-President of ADB pointed out that how the region balances economic prosperity, social equity and environmental responsibility will matter not just to Asia and the Pacific, but to the world. “ADB applauds the increased ambition of the SDGs and will support these in Asia through increased investments in human needs, infrastructure, and cross-border public goods. This renewed tripartite collaboration around the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs will contribute to regional policy dialogue and knowledge services, complementing national actions,” said Mr. Groff.

“In financing sustainable development, ADB will increase its overall lending by up to 50% from 2017 to around $20 billion a year and double its climate financing to $6 billion a year by 2020.”

On the occasion of signing the tripartite agreement, Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP, underscored the importance of technology and innovation in helping achieve the lofty goals. “The bold global goals agreed to by the world leaders last week will require innovation and extensive action to deliver widespread prosperity in Asia and the Pacific, and to meet the ambitions for people and the planet,” said Mr. Xu. “UNDP stands ready to support countries in the region to help quickly integrate the 2030 agenda into national plans, so that aspirations can be fast-tracked into development results.”

Welcoming the new partnership at the high-level forum, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon said: “We attach importance to the harmonization of the previous strategies with the new agenda for sustainable development for the post 2015 period, and we attach special importance to regional cooperation in development of infrastructure, including realization of projects on construction of railroads and highways, transmission lines and gas pipelines.”

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, added: “Pacific small island developing states need, more than ever, to work with a coordinated United Nations system because we need to move quickly to identify and implement programs which will help our nations deal immediately with the needs of our people and region.”

The original partnership between UNDP and ESCAP dates from 2001, with ADB having joined in 2004. The three partners embarked on a regional MDGs project to monitor development progress in Asia and the Pacific in a unified way. Over the last decade, the partnership has evolved into a significant regional platform for policy dialogue, with the Regional MDG Report series contributing to higher visibility of MDGs issues and strengthening cross-country exchange of ideas for MDG achievement. The new agreement will build on this partnership to support the efforts of member States to ensure effective implementation of the SDGs.

For further information, contact:

Katie Elles
Public Information Officer, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP
T: (66) 2 288 1865 M: (66) 9481 525 36
E: elles@un.org

Stanislav Saling
Media Relations & Public Affairs, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP
T: (1) 212 906 6575, M: (1) 917 346 1955
E: stanislavsaling@undp.org

Harumi Kodama
Team Leader, Media Relations, Department of External Relations, ADB
T: +63 2 632 5291, M: +63 908 888 6701
E: hkodama@adb.org


Dear Friends,

After more than 160 entries, judging by a panel of legal empowerment experts, and a public vote by 3,000 people, Namati is delighted to announce the winners of the first ever global grassroots justice prize. The top three winners are:

The Achmed Dean Sesay Memorial Prize: 


Nazdeek works with tea workers in Assam, India – where maternal mortality is the country’s highest and pay is among the lowest. It uses legal empowerment, strategic litigation and advocacy to advance the rights of tea garden workers.

Nazdeek took part in our new film about Justice in the new development goals.

Second Prize: AdvocAid, Sierra Leone.

AdvocAid works with women in prisons in Sierra Leone, providing them with legal services, rehabilitation support and rights education. It also trains former prisoners as paralegals.

Third Prize: Accountability Lab, Liberia.

Accountability Lab trains and supports mediators in some of Monrovia’s most impoverished and justice-deprived districts to peacefully resolve community disputes. 

Read More
In addition to the top three prizes, Namati has recognised eight organisations for their outstanding work in key areas such as innovation (where we actually awarded two prizes) or impact.

Best Learners Award  SM Sehgal Foundation, India
Impact Award – Dynamique des Femmes Juristes, DRC
Innovation Award – Grupo de Monitoreo Independiente, El Salvador
Innovation Award – Human Rights Institute, Russia
Partnership Award – Koshish Charitable Trust, India
Scaleability Award – Asylum Access, Global
Sustainability Award – Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organisation, Nepal
Public Vote Winner – Proyecto Surcos, Argentina

This week world leaders are coming together to agree development goals that will commit them to justice targets for the first time. And while the new Sustainable Development Goals offer a huge opportunity for justice practitioners, these prize-winning programs provide models that the world can follow in the years to come.

The Justice Prize was supported by our justice partners at BRAC, the World Justice Projectand the UN Development Program.

Find links, stories about the work being done by our prize winners, and lessons for your own projects on the Namati website.

In solidarity,
Paul, Vivek & everyone at Namati.

Read More


By Suzanne Nazal on Mon, 28 September 2015

Members of multi-purpose community cooperative during a meeting with CSOs in Manila, Philippines.
Members of multi-purpose community cooperative during a meeting with CSOs in Manila, Philippines.

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a blueprint for eradicating poverty in low-income countries, while addressing problems of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production in the developed world. The SDGs will be driven not primarily by governments, but by evolving partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector. Over the lifetime of the SDGs, the nature of citizen participation will also evolve.

Here are 5 ways that civil society organizations can contribute meaningfully to SDGs, and that the post-2015 agenda can support civil society’s development efforts over the next 15 years.

1. Protect civil society space.

In a recent speech to commemorate the International Day for Democracy, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments to ensure enabling environments for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to operate. This has been a welcome development in view of the fact that in 2014 serious threats to civic freedoms were reported in almost 100 countries around the world. The UN chief also noted: “The role of civil society has never been more important. Soon we will start to implement an inspiring new development agenda, agreed by all the world’s governments.” Post-2015, governments should ensure that CSOs are able to effectively contribute to achieving the SDGs, and meaningfully engage in their monitoring and review.

2. Include civil society in emergency response.

The SDGs acknowledge that more frequent and intense natural disasters threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades. Experience tells us that CSOs are often the first to respond during calamities, like when Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu in March 2015, or when a powerful earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015. After Typhoon Haiyan in 2014, CSOs in the Philippines realized their enormous responsibility in helping communities reduce their vulnerability to future natural disasters, and they have started to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in their interventions. This trend will continue over the next few decades, particularly in disaster-prone countries.

3. ‘Go smart.’

CSOs have discovered that information and communications technology can help them deliver services in a more efficient way. In a health project, for example, development workers in the field can instantly report medical information through their smartphones so that appropriate health care can be delivered more efficiently. Mobile phones, tablets, applications and software are also used to collect data in rural communities to perform monitoring and evaluation in agriculture projects. This should be scaled up in the post-2015 era.

4. Power to the people.

The digital age has also opened up access to massive amount of information, happening in real time and at practically no cost. Social media has transferred power to the people and has given rise to online activism. It has never been easier to start a campaign and express support for a cause. Online communication offers alternative forms of dialogue and has the potential to build a network of committed, active citizens that can positively influence the implementation of the SDGs.

5. Target the youth.

Young people are crucial civil society actors, and most of them live in developing countries. Our future lies in the hands of today’s youth, who will pass the torch to future generations. The current young people will mature in the next 15 years, the period covered by the SDGs. They will be the generation that will experience the impact of the success or failure of the SDGs. Therefore, SDG implementation should be inclusive and responsive to the needs of the youth – get them educated, help them develop sustainable livelihoods, and empower them to contribute more fully to a better society.

This collective journey calls for greater awareness of the contribution of civil society as we endeavor to see the SDGs met for all nations and peoples, and for all segments of society.

See more:

– See more at: http://blogs.adb.org/blog/5-things-civil-society-and-sdgs-can-do-each-other#sthash.kiVzho1G.dpuf

SOURCE: The Alternative.in

India is home to over 105 million tribal people, belonging to 31 different tribes. Tribal populations enter the realm of mainstream attention only when crisis – from land displacement to gender violence – manage to hit newspaper headlines. But how much do we really know about them as people – their lives, their traditional wisdom, cultures and struggles?

Here is a selection of award winning films made by Independent film-makers on indigenous communities in India covering a range of subjects, from the need to preserve their traditional forms of knowledge, to the threat to livelihoods, the environment, and their uneasy relationship with development. The films bring us closer to people who are at the margins of our consciousness, finding little space and attention in mainstream media, far away, physically and mentally from cities and city people.

1. The Red Data Book – An Appendix

72 mins – 2014 – Director: Sreemith Shekar and Pradeep K P

The documentary, ‘The Red Data Book-An appendix‘ highlights the increasing infant mortality within Adivasi communities in Attappady, Kerala. As the community faces extinction, the film questions if infant mortality is due to malnutrition as the State claims or because of our inability to comprehend their way of life. The activist filmmaker Sreemith captures the everyday rhythms of Adivasi life to try and find answers. The film was a part of the prestigious IDSFFK 2014 film festival in Trivandrum this year.

2. Notes on Man Capture

43 mins – 2007 – Director: Nandini Bedi

A rare find in a male-centric culture such as ours, the film focuses on customs of marriage in the Garo Hills where men are ambushed and captured to be married off to women within the community. The film follows a young single mother who has had former lovers in her attempt to claim a suitable man. With humour and ease it takes on subjects like sex, decision making, gender, and power dynamics in this unusual people in India.

3. Have you seen the Arana?

73 mins – 2012 – Director: Sunanda Bhat

Set in Wayanad, Have You Seen The Arana is a lyrical film that gently urges us to take a look at how local people, their way of life, forms of knowledge and well being is threatened owing to rapid ‘development’ in the region. A far cry from most ‘issue based’ films, the film is undeniably poetic, with breaktaking visuals, and an engaging structure. As the filmmaker journeys through the beauty of Wayanad, she constructs a narrative involving a healer concerned with disappearing medicinal plants in the forest, a traditional farmer, and a cash crop cultivator, all struggling to survive the here and now.

4. India’s Silent War, 2011

48 mins – 2011 – Director: Imran Garda


Al Jazeera’s journalist Imran Garda examines a underrported 40-year war that has claimed thousands of lives in the heart of our country but remains largely ignored by urban Indians and the world outside. The Adivasis, the original inhabitants of the land who populate our impenetrable and remote jungles are caught in the middle of a conflict between the governement and Naxalites or Maoists. The film takes us to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal to introduce us to this ‘hidden war’ in our background, bringing us face to face with rebel fighters and the nameless victims of this terrible conflict.

5. There Is A Fire In Your Forest

53 mins – 2001 – Director: Krishnendu Bose

The film focuses on the untold story of Kanha, in Madhya Pradesh. Known more as a tiger conservancy, Kanha was also the site that witnessed the first wave of adivasi relocation in the early 1970s. A must watch for anyone wanting to understand the adivasi side of the story in India, the film has as its central character, a wildlife photojournalist, who visits Kanha and finds a change in his understanding of ‘conservation’.

6. In the forest hangs a bridge

39 mins – 1999 – Director: Sanjay Kak

Set deep in the forested hills of Siang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh, the residents of Damro Village get together to build a 1000 foot long suspension bridge from cane and bamboo in the distinctive style of the Adi tribe. Their only tool is the dao, a machete or blade made of tempered steel. The film then becomes a metaphor for the strength and fragility of the tribal community as they set about this challenge.

7. Only An Axe Away

40 mins – 2005 – Director: P. Baburaj and C Sarathchandran

Films_NativeTribes_Only An Axe
The film chronicles the efforts to save the Silent Valley in Kerala. Declared a national park in 1984, the state plans to build a dam across river Kunthi, environmentalits and the people share their anxieties that the move would ruin the evergreen forests forever.

8. Acting Like a Thief

15 mins – 2005 – Director: P. Kerim Friedman & Shashwati Talukdar

The film is about a tribal theatre group in Ahmedabad. The Budhan Theatre, inspired by the work of Mahasweta Devi, it has transformed the lives of adults and children who belong to the Chhara tribe or community. The film chronicles the arrest of one of its playwrights and harks back to 1871 when the tribals were notified as ‘natural criminals’ by the then British Raj. Even post independence, little has changed for these people, for despite being denotified, they are still unable to shake off the shadows of their past.

SOURCE: UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
[Click here for PDF version]
NEW YORK (25 September 2015) – A preeminent expert body of the United Nations on indigenous peoples, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly today.

The transformative Agenda lays out the global goals for reducing poverty, in all its dimensions, over the next decade and a half. “From the least developed countries to the most developed countries, the inequalities faced by indigenous peoples are staggering”, says Professor Megan Davis, Chairperson of the Permanent Forum.

There are six specific references to indigenous peoples in the Agenda. “These constitute a step up from the Millennium Development Goals, which had no references to indigenous peoples”, points out Permanent Forum member Joan Carling.

Yet “States and the UN system must be ambitious, and go beyond the points mentioned in this text to bring indigenous peoples into the achievement of goals and targets – for the 2030 Agenda to be truly inclusive”, she continued.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a framework for the rights and development priorities of indigenous peoples.

In particular, “indigenous peoples’ rights to their traditional lands, territories and resources have to be secured as the fundamental basis for their economic development and foundation of their lives, livelihoods and cultures”, states the Chairperson, Professor Davis.

Indigenous peoples have much to teach the world about living sustainably: “Let us learn from the extensive knowledge systems of indigenous peoples, developed over many centuries, as we move forward to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda to combat climate change, to sustainably manage forests and to halt biodiversity loss”, continues Professor Davis.

It is also important to keep track of progress in meeting the goals and targets for indigenous peoples through the development of culturally relevant indicators and disaggregation of data.

The Agenda states that the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council and other intergovernmental bodies and forums will support the thematic review of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (paragraph 85).

“In this regard, the Permanent Forum will have an important role to play in achieving progress of the goals and targets of the Agenda for indigenous peoples”, notes Ms. Carling.

“Indigenous peoples look forward to being part of this exciting journey, so it can truly transform our world and bring peace and prosperity for all.  This is a priority task to which the Permanent Forum remains committed”, says Professor Davis, Chairperson of the Forum.


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