Promote and Protect Rights to Land, Territory, Resources and Development of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities in ASEAN


Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

Date of publication: 
30 March 2012

From workshop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 29-31 March 2012


We, the Indigenous Peoples/Ethnic Minorities in the ASEAN comprise more than 100 million representing distinct identities and diverse cultures. We are referred to in different names such as ethnic minorities, hilltribes, indigenous communities, orang asli, orang asal, ethnic groups, ethnic nationalities, masyarakat adat, among others. However, we share common historical injustices of marginalization, exclusion, discrimination, forced assimilation. At the same time, we continue to assert our distinct identities, self-governance, traditional livelihoods and resource management systems as well as our socio-cultural institutions in the midst of mainstream national political, cultural and economic systems and legal framework.

We, the Indigenous Peoples/Ethnic Minorities in ASEAN and around the world have struggled for the recognition of our identities, cultures and inherent rights as distinct peoples. We cannot achieve the full enjoyment of our individual rights without the recognition of our collective rights. We acknowledge the efforts of some countries in ASEAN that recognize our collective rights. Likewise, it has led to the drafting and consequently the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007 after 20 years, with the favorable votes of all the ASEAN states. The rights of indigenous peoples are now integral part of international human rights standards. However, we are yet to see the ASEAN recognize and incorporate our rights in its documents and blueprints.

Despite forming a big part of the culturally diverse ASEAN, we continue to face various issues that further marginalize us from society. Among these are:

  • Non-recognition of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities as distinct peoples with collective rights including citizenship issues in some countries
  • Lack or inadequate space for participation in decision making processes of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities including indigenous women in the governance system of States in some countries
  • Lack of full recognition of customary laws and self governance of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities;
  • Continuing stigma and discrimination (institutionalized and unintentional) against Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities resulting to legislation of inappropriate policies and laws and its implementation in relation to land, territories and resources, among others.
  • Increasing gaps in economic and social development or disparity between IPs/EM and other populations
  • Non-recognition and implementation of the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent especially in relation to the planning, designing and implementing development projects affecting Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities.
  • Development aggression in indigenous communities such as extractive industries, hydropower, mining, oil, gas, economic land concessions, plantation projects, etc. coupled with militarization in some countries resulting to the displacement of communities. This profit and greed driven economic development model adversely affects IPs/EMs.
  • Lack of full recognition of rights of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities to land, territories and resources that adversely affects traditional occupation, livelihood, welfare and food security.
  • Lack of full recognition of the contribution of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities to traditional knowledge on resource management as a solution to the mitigation and adaption to climate change
  • Lack of support for indigenous educational institutions, particularly mother tongue education and traditional health-care systems and the lack of access and provision of adequate education, healthcare and other services.

Given this situation, we, the Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Minorities in the ASEAN, call on the ASEAN member states to:

  • Recognize indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities as distinct peoples with collective rights from the rest of the dominant population/mainstream society with their own identity, culture and collective ways of life with their land, territories and resources through the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that was supported by all member states of ASEAN and other international human rights instruments
  • Review national laws and policies with the view of incorporating articles of the UNDRIP especially the right to lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.
  • Incorporate FREE, PRIOR and INFORMED CONSENT (FPIC) as a right of indigenous peoples in national laws and policies and ensure its implementation on programmes and projects that may affect them.
  • Recognize, respect and promote customary laws and self-governance of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities particularly in relation to the sustainable management and control over their land, territories and resources; and conflict resolution.
  • Recognize, respect and promote the contributions of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities to traditional knowledge on sustainable management of resources as a solution to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  • Establish and reinforce the effective functioning of mechanisms for seeking of redress and access to justice including legal pluralism approaches for damages of past and current projects that were not consulted with indigenous peoples.
  • Establish effective mechanisms at the local, national, and regional level for the participation of indigenous peoples in all decision making processes including in the matter of governance of the states.
  • Encourage all ASEAN member states to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and ensure its implementation. Review and repeal national laws and policies that are discriminatory to indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.
  • Designate an indigenous peoples focal person within the AICHR towards the establishment of a working group on indigenous peoples for the respect, promotion and protection of indigenous peoples rights in consistent with the UNDRIP within the ASEAN in relation to building an ASEAN community by 2015
  • Incorporate the rights of Indigenous Peoples and ethnic minorities consistent with the UNDRIP in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

Indigenous Peoples Task Force on ASEAN
NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), Cambodia
Indigenous Community Support Organization (ICSO), Cambodia
Indigenous Rights Active Members (IRAM), Cambodia
Organization to Promote Kui Culture (OPKC), Cambodia
Highlanders Association (HA), Cambodia
Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), Cambodia
Indigenous Peoples NGO Network (IPNN), Cambodia
Prey Lang Indigenous Peoples Network (PLIPN), Cambodia
The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Indonesia
Sustainable Development Knowledge Network (SPECTRUM), Myanmar
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Institute for Study of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE), Vietnam

Click here for the original statement in PDF.

Research and Communication Development Programme
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
108 Moo 5 Tamboon Sanpranate Amphur Sansai
Chiang Mai 50210 THAILAND
Tel: 66 5338 0168
Fax: 66 5338 0752
Email: aippmail [at] aippnet [dot] org


Indigenous Peoples Face Further Marginalization at ASEAN Civil Society Conference

Press Release

30 March 2012

Indigenous Peoples representing 15 organizations from six ASEAN countries and other support organizations under the banner of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force on ASEAN (IPTF-ASEAN) have expressed their disappointment and condemnation for not allowing them to hold a workshop to discuss Indigenous Peoples rights to land, territories and resources and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People at the venue of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The workshop was intended to discuss the common issues of indigenous peoples in the ASEAN in relation to their rights over their lands, territories and resources and come up with recommendations for action of the ASEAN and its member states. The group learned late last night the cancellation of their venue and for the reason that the workshop theme is a sensitive issue.
“We, the indigenous peoples in the ASEAN form a big part of the culturally diverse ASEAN which is always proudly mentioned by the ASEAN governments. Despite this, we are not at all mentioned in any of the ASEAN documents, most importantly the recognition of our identities and our collective rights. In a civil society process such as the ACSC, we are further being marginalized by not allowing us to hold our workshop to raise our issues and concerns, “ said Richard Gadit from the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP).

“We came here with the expectation of sharing our experiences and struggles with the rest of the civil society but the government is yet again limiting the space for us. This is not a good practice for ASEAN governments to interfere with civil society processes when it banners itself a people-centered ASEAN while continuing to curtail the right to freedom of expression of its peoples, “ added Oum Mich, an indigenous leader from Kampong Thom Province who travelled to Phnom Penh eagerly to attend and share with his fellow indigenous peoples and the civil society gathered in the ACSC their issues on economic land concessions affecting indigenous peoples in Cambodia.

The IPTF-ASEAN strongly condemned this act of curtailment by the government and joined other civil society organizations in calling for the ASEAN to respect the right of its peoples to freely express their opinions and be allowed to hold their events if it is sincere in the building of a people-centered ASEAN Community.

For more information, please contact:
Richard Gadit, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact: +85589789249/ +66897001749
Sochea Pheap, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association: +85592617990


Cambodia Curtails Freedom of Expression at ASEAN Civil Society Conference

For Immediate Release

30 March 2012

Four workshops organized by civil society organizations were forced late last night to move their workshops to La Palaranda hotel, away from the main venue of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC)/ASEAN People’s Forum (APF), the Lucky Star Hotel (on Street 336, Phnom Penh). Three of the workshops dealt with land rights, eviction and environment issues and the fourth focused on Burma’s current political and human rights situation and the challenges this poses to the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014.

The workshops were “Expansion of Mono-Culture Plantations in ASEAN: Impacts to forest, farmlands and people livehood”, and “Promote and Protect Rights to Land Territory, Natural Resources and Development of Indigenous People/Ethnic Minorites”, and “Regional Workshop on Land Rights and Eviction” and “Promoting Regional Cooperation to Ensure a People-Centered ASEAN in 2014 in Burma/Myanmar”.

“Not only are we facing eviction from our land, we are now also being evicted from this civil society process,” said Seng Sokheng, member of the National Working Group of the Community Peace Building Network. “We came here to join the ACSC/APF because we believed it was a space for us to explain our issues and share them with fellow civil society from the region. Cambodia has tarnished its image by evicting us like this.”

“Indigenous people in the region are constantly marginalized. Rather than providing us an opportunity to raise our concerns on the non-recognition of our collective rights, we are being further marginalized. This is completely unacceptable,” said Richard Gadit, Human Rights Advocacy Officer of the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact.

“We planned to hold our workshop at this ACSC/APF to talk about the challenges of creating an open space for independent civil society, using the example of Cambodia to learn lessons to use in Burma in 2014. The lesson we have learned is that ASEAN countries don’t respect freedom of expression,” said Khin Ohmar, Coordinator of Burma Partnership. “If this is happening here in Cambodia, imagine what will happen in Burma where the right to freedom of expression is already violated on a daily basis.”

For more information:

Seng Sokheng, Community Peace Building Network: +855 92324668 (Khmer)
Richard Gadit, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact: +855 89789249 /+66 897001749 (English/Tagalog)
Khin Ohmar, Burma Partnership: +855 95908483 / +66 818840772 (English/Burmese)