Global Leaders Discuss Legacies of Abuse of Indigenous Populations

Date of publication: 
19 July 2011

NEW YORK, — Leaders of the global indigenous rights community gathered in New York today for a three-day meeting to discuss how truth commissions can support indigenous rights.

The Strengthening Indigenous Rights through Truth Commissions conference was organized by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) as part of a two-year project responding to the increase of truth commissions held where indigenous people are specific targets of atrocities.

“We are proud to be gathering leaders and activists of the indigenous rights community for this event,” said David Tolbert, ICTJ president. “This conference is a groundbreaking opportunity to directly impact the way societies handle the legacies of abuse of indigenous groups,” he said.
The conference aims to identify standards and principles that ensure truth commissions better support the rights of indigenous peoples. It follows a workshop held a year ago to evaluate the success and failures of past and ongoing truth commissions engaging indigenous rights issues in the Americas.

Participants include Chandra Roy-Hendrickson, secretariat chief of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Chief Wilton Littlechild, a commissioner of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Bartolomé Clavero, an independent expert for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and other leaders from Europe, Asia and Latin America.

“Staggering abuses against indigenous populations and their perpetrators—often complicit governments and religious institutions—have historically been overlooked,” said Eduardo Gonzalez, director of ICTJ’s Truth and Memory Program. “Effective truth commissions give societies the opportunity to recognize and redress the untold suffering from abusive policies that continues today,” he said.

More information and a live stream from the conference can be found at

About ICTJ

The International Center for Transitional Justice works to redress and prevent the most severe violations of human rights by confronting legacies of mass abuse. ICTJ seeks holistic solutions to promote accountability and create just and peaceful societies. For more information, visit