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Twenty Years
>  Cambodia
>  Nepal
>  Bangladesh
>  Awareness
>  Cameroon
>  Kenya





Newletter June 2009

Welcome to the PRO 169 electronic newsletter

This is the first issue of PRO 169's electronic newsletter, which replaces the earlier printed newsletter. The aspiration is to reach a larger number of readers - faster!


The Programme to Promote ILO Convention No. 169 (PRO 169) is a global programme of the ILO to promote and implement the rights of indigenous peoples. Its overall objective is that Indigenous and tribal peoples' rights are promoted and their socio-economic situation improved, in compliance with the principles of ILO Convention No. 169.

PRO 169 works in partnership with international, regional and national institutions, including indigenous peoples' organizations.

Twenty Years of Implementing Indigenous Peoples' Rights

Twenty years ago, in June 1989, the International Labour Conference adopted the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention - known as ILO Convention No. 169. Since then, the Convention has been ratified by 20 countries, in Latin America, Asia and Europe. In these countries, the ILO supervisory bodies are monitoring the implementation of the Convention and provide comments to guide the application.

Beyond the countries that have ratified it, Convention No. 169 has served as a reference point for the discussion and understanding of indigenous peoples' rights and has inspired national laws and policies, guidelines and development programmes.

The experiences generated over these last twenty years constitute a rich knowledge-base of good practices and lessons learned which can serve to inform and inspire the further implementation of indigenous peoples' rights. This is particularly important, given the challenges of implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted in 2007.


In order to mark the 20th Anniversary of Convention No. 169 - and share the knowledge and experiences related to its implementation, the ILO is publishing a comprehensive Guide to ILO Convention No. 169; "Indigenous and Tribal Peoples' Rights in Practic". The Guide provides a broad explanation of the provisions of the Convention, along with summaries of comments of the ILO supervisory bodies and hundreds of example of concrete measures taken to implement indigenous peoples' rights all over the world.

In parallel, the ILO has undertaken research on the situation of indigenous peoples in Africa, in collaboration with the Working Group on Indigenous Communities/Populations under the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). The research project is implemented by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria and a comprehensive overview report on "Constitutional, Legislative and Administrative Provisions Concerning Indigenous Peoples in Africa will be launched at the ACHPR session in May 2009.

Both the Guide to Convention No. 169 and the Overview Report on Africa will be available in printed versions in June, but advance drafts can already be accessed at the ILOs website (see below).

In addition, the ILO's global Programme to Promote ILO Convention No. 169 (PRO 169) is considerably scaling up its support to governments and indigenous peoples to promote and implement the Convention with the support of donors such as Denmark, Norway, Spain and the European Commission. Recently, a new regional programme is launched in Latin America, along with national projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Kenya, Namibia and Nepal as well as a large number of research, training and capacity-building activities.

In order to access a wide range of information resources; please visit: www.ilo.org/indigenous

In addition, PRO 169 has compiled a comprehensive training tool box, which includes background materials, video interviews, Power Point presentations and documentaries. All these materials are available online at pro169.org or upon request at pro169@ilo.org

Birgitte Feiring, Chief Technical Adviser, PRO 169

E-mail: fering@ilo.org


PRO 169 activities in Asia

Support to Indigenous Peoples in Cambodia

spacerPRO 169 began its work in Cambodia in 2005. Issues related to land have been a priority since the inception of the programme.

The 2001 Land Law of Cambodia recognizes the collective rights of indigenous peoples to manage their community and property according to their traditional custom . Hence, the management of the territory and related decision-making processes should be based on the established socio-cultural and political structures of the communities. However, in order to apply for a collective land title, the indigenous communities need to be first registered as a legal entity by the Ministry of Interior. PRO 169 has been supporting indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations and the Government of Cambodia to register indigenous communities as legal entities.

Although Cambodia has not ratified Convention No. 169, considerable efforts have been made to raise the awareness of government officials, NGOs and other stakeholders of the Convention's fundamental principles regarding "participation and consultation". So far, three indigenous communities in the province of Ratanakiri, have managed to register their collective land, in a process that followed the fundamental principles of participation and consultation (this process is in accordance with Sub-decree No. 118 on land management).. Another community has finalised all the documentation necessary for registration. The registration is currently under consideration by the Commune Council in the same province.

The work of PRO 169 in Cambodia has resulted in the generation of data concerning the number of communities targeted for land registration. At least 133 indigenous communities have been included in the date base which will be targeted for registration in the provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. Out of these, 50 communities are currently getting support from PRO 169, with financial support from DANIDA.
Moreover, starting April 2009, a specific Local Economic Development (LED) project will be implemented in the three registered indigenous communities, with separate funding from the ILO Regional Office in Bangkok.

The main focus of PRO 169 in the country for the next couple of years will be replication and scaling up of the community registration, capacity building, development of training material on land registration and local economic development. The vision is to assist in the realization of indigenous peoples' rights to land and to contribute to achieving the goals of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the ILO Decent Work Agenda for indigenous peoples in Cambodia.

Sek Sophorn, National Project Coordinator, PRO 169, Cambodia
E-mail: sophorns@ilo.org

Read more about Asia

Read more about Cambodia



Constitution-making and Indigenous Peoples' Rights in Nepal


A year after Nepal's ratification of ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, PRO 169 has initiated a national programme called "Promotion of indigenous peoples' rights in the constitution-making and state-reform process in Nepal". The Project has the twin objective of supporting a) meaningful consultation and participation of indigenous councils/communities in the constitution-making process, and b) that key policy-making institutions integrate Convention No. 169 in the state-reform process. The project is supported by the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in Kathmandu.

At the moment, implementation of the Convention is the top priority of the ILO and currently a series of large-scale activities are being initiated in collaboration with national partners. Including the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), concerned Ministries and indigenous peoples' organizations, including the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN). Following extensive consultations and discussions, a draft National Action Plan for implementation of the Convention, has been finalized by a Task Force on the Implementation of the Convention. The Task Force is composed of representatives from the various government institutions, which are directly involved in the implementation of Convention No. 169. The draft National Action Plan is expected to get the Cabinet's approval soon. The Action Plan includes revision of domestic laws on land, natural resources, education, social security and others in line with the provisions of the Convention No. 169 as well as formulation of necessary policies and programmes.

Nepal is currently in the middle of a Constitutional Reform process. The project is supporting dialogue between the Constituent Assembly members and indigenous women and men, their organizations and experts. The aim is to ensure the inclusion of indigenous peoples' rights in the new constitution. The project also supports the Ministry of Local Development which is the main government agency for providing training and capacity building on Convention No. 169 to government officials at different levels. While working jointly with indigenous peoples' organizations, the project aims to develop various educational materials through grassroots research.

PRO 169 in Nepal also works closely with other UN agencies and indigenous organizations in the country and in the region. From 27-29 April, PRO 169 organized a Regional Seminar on the implementation of indigenous peoples' rights in Asia in collaboration with the UNDP Regional Initiative on Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Development (UUNDP-RIPP); The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP); and the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), Nepal.

Click here for the Statement of the participants of the Asia Regional Good Practice Seminar.

Mukta Lama, National Project Coordinator, PRO 169, Nepal
E-mail: mukta@ilo.org

Read more about Nepal



New Hope for the Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh

spacerOver the past years, PRO 169 activities in Bangladesh have focused on national and regional consultations on Convention No. 107, information dissemination and translation of key documents into Bangla; training and capacity building through regional and international training programmes; research and documentation, including on national laws and policies regarding gender, discrimination and traditional occupations as they affect indigenous peoples in the country.

The outcome of the 2008 national elections offer renewed hope for the promotion and implementation of indigenous and tribal peoples' rights in Bangladesh. The new government swept to power in a landslide election victory in December 2008. Four members of the newly formed parliament are of indigenous background, three from the CHT and one from the plains.

The government has committed itself to fully implement the 1997 Peace, which was signed between government and the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), represented by the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS).

Together with a number of other encouraging developments related to the inclusion of indigenous peoples in decision-making processes, both nationally and internationally, this presents an important opportunity for ILO, the Government of Bangladesh, indigenous peoples' organisations and other development partners, to protect, promote and institutionalize indigenous peoples' rights in Bangladesh, with a view of ensuring national stability and sustainable development, where diversity is celebrated and respected.

In line with the progressive, rights-based approach to indigenous peoples' development laid out in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy II (2009-11) , in which the full range of social, political, economic and cultural rights of indigenous peoples are ensured. PRO 169 is in the process of developing, in collaboration with government and indigenous partners, a new project to support the implementation of the rights of indigenous communities, through the provision of technical input to support capacity building, technical advice and advocacy on indigenous peoples' rights. Integrating their concerns and rights into the policies and programmes of key ministries and ensuring the consultation and participation of indigenous peoples themselves in the decision making process will also be central to the project strategy.

The project intends to focus primarily on strengthening the institutional capacity of the Government of Bangladesh and indigenous peoples to protect and promote indigenous peoples' rights as guaranteed under international standards on indigenous peoples, particularly ILO Convention No. 107 which was ratified by Bangladesh in 1972 and also Convention No. 169; ratification of which is one of the recommendations of the PRSP II.

Sarah Webster, PRO 169 South Asia Coordinator
E-mail: webster@ilo.org

Read more about Bangladesh


Update on PRO 169 initiatives in Africa

PRO 169 in Africa: Accelerating Awareness


The PRO 169 action embodies the essence of flagship initiatives concerning the rights of indigenous peoples in Africa. Since 2006, PRO 169 has intensified its activities in Africa with the goal of raising the awareness of governments and other institutional actors, and civilian society on issues related to the rights of indigenous peoples as defined by ILO Convention No. 169.

There is a clear interest in the processes initiated by PRO 169, since it supports the efforts and aspirations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, with whom close collaboration has been established, notably on the issue of indigenous peoples' rights. As such, a joint project was created to conduct studies in 24 African countries on the status and mechanisms of protection of indigenous rights.

A comprehensive report based on the results of the studies by country has been drafted and will be presented at the joint ACHPR/ILO conference on May 10 and 11, 2009 in Banjul, Gambia. The comprehensive study, along with the individual country studies, will be available shortly on the websites of the ILO and the University of Pretoria Centre for Human Rights. (www.chr.up.ac.za/indigenous/)

The studies, completed or still in progress, are a tool that open the way to an intense process of reflection on the achievements made on the African continent and the challenges still to be overcome. Generally, what comes out of the studies is the certainty that African governments are becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of the issue and of the need to support the desire to protect vulnerable groups, especially indigenous peoples, of legislative and institutional frameworks and of emphasising advances within the country. From basic rights to the right to education, and including the right to land and development, there are some commendable initiatives that foretell a full, yet ambitious agenda for all actors.

In the coming years, Africa will see intense programmes dealing with indigenous issues and will make progress in closing the gap with other continents such as Latin America or Asia. It has already begun, especially in the Central African basin, and government efforts in several countries (Cameroon, Congo, Burundi, etc.) fit into this framework. This desire, combined with the undeniable effort of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, will propel Africa towards success.

Belkacem Boukherouf, PRO 169 Intern, Geneva
Email: g7normes@ilo.org



PRO 169 in Cameroon: review since 2008 - Progress Thus Far and Future Challenges

spacerLaunched in December 2006, the aim of PRO 169 is to build the capacity of the actors involved in or concerned by indigenous and tribal issues, and also to facilitate dialogue among these actors so that the rights, needs and priorities of indigenous peoples are systematically taken into account. It also aims to improve the mechanisms for their participation in processes that affect them.

The activities implemented in 2008 have contributed to the achievement of these goals. For example, training workshops, which also helped to improve the skills of the ILO's tripartite partners and supporting NGOs on indigenous issues, indigenous community organisations and representatives, contributed to developing effective dialogue among these various partners, some of which have become cogs for indigenous issues or defenders of the indigenous issue in the processes in which they were invited to take part. Using the skills acquired during training sessions on various topics, such as oral advocacy, indigenous representatives have started to demand the consideration of their positions, needs and priorities in the processes from which they believe they have been illegitimately excluded.

As shown by the conclusions of the participative consultations to review poverty reduction strategies in Cameroon, indigenous and tribal peoples are gradually becoming involved in certain national processes at the government's behest, based on the documentation and other tools made available by PRO 169, such as a study on gateways and a strategy for the integration of indigenous and tribal peoples in poverty reduction strategies in Cameroon, as well as a summary document on the concerns of indigenous peoples - as expressed by indigenous representatives - for inclusion in the PRSP II.

In August 2008, collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs led to the celebration of International Day of the World's Indigenous People for the first time in Cameroon. This collaboration was marked, among other things, by the participation of the government (Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Land Use) on the project's steering committee.

These results should not, however, overshadow the numerous challenges. In fact, some processes concerning indigenous peoples continue to take place without their participation. The African meaning of the concept of "indigenous population" and native status applied to Africans from colonial times continues to mar, to a certain degree, recognition of the indigenous peoples of Cameroon by all, and in their regard, the application of universally recognised rights and mechanisms. The gap in knowledge of indigenous issues is still high among local authorities in direct and ongoing contact with indigenous peoples. Feedback from indigenous representatives to the communities is still low due to the long distances and isolation still affecting most communities.

In 2009, PRO 169 hopes to overcome a certain number of these challenges by enhancing its collaboration with all partners, but especially with the government, by completing and making available the educational tools under development on indigenous issues for their own training and for the training of their officers. Furthermore, the project plans to strengthen dialogue between indigenous peoples and the other partners by organising exchanges and workshops in the sub-regions.

Thus, through its successful experiences in Cameroon, PRO 169 plans to intensify its actions and disseminate them to other countries and indigenous peoples in the Central African region in particular, and in Africa in general.

Serge Bouopda Guechou, National Project Coordinator, PRO 169, Cameroon
E-mail: bouopda@ilo.org

Read more about Cameroon



Strengthening Partnership with the Government and Indigenous Communities in Kenya

PRO169 has been working in partnership with indigenous peoples' organizations in Kenya since 2001.The programme supported the Pastoralists, Hunter-Gatherers and Minorities Network (PHGMN) to participate in the constitutional review process in 2001. PRO 169 has also undertaken a study on the scope and nature of child labour among Kenyan minorities and indigenous communities and organized a number of forums to discuss these issues.

1st National Training on Indigenous Peoples Rights in Kenya


From 22-25 March, PRO 169 and the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) organized the 1st National Training on Indigenous Peoples Rights held in Nairobi. The training built upon several years of targeting and inclusion of Kenyan government officials and indigenous peoples' representatives in the various capacity building and training programmes of PRO 169 (e.g. annual international training courses and fellowship programmes on indigenous peoples' rights and development).

The main objective of the training was to strengthen the capacity of the Kenyan indigenous peoples' representatives, government officials, policy makers and other organizations, including UN and international agencies, to recognize, promote and respect indigenous peoples' right in the context of policy development and dialogue.

The three days training was attended by two Parliament Members and one District Commissioner whose constituents are mainly indigenous peoples; representative of the African Commission's Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities; officials of various government agencies (e.g. Ministry of Development for Northern Kenya and Northern Arid Lands, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), UN agencies, representatives of indigenous organizations and civil society.

The revival of a national indigenous peoples' network has been one of the most important results of the training. The network has created a Working Group to follow up on the agreed Action Plan, which stipulates the ways forward in addressing the main issues affecting indigenous peoples at the local, national and international levels.

PRO 169 is organizing an African Regional Seminar on Good Practices for Implementing Indigenous Peoples' Rights in June 2009, also with the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights. The seminar will promote the implementation of indigenous peoples' rights in the African region through discussion and dissemination of experiences, good practice and lessons learned and also contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and approaches to addressing these in the African context.

Strengthening partnership with the Maasai Cultural Heritage

In order to help address the issue of loss of cultural heritage, including traditional knowledge and occupations, the ILO has supported small-scale local economic initiatives in the Laikipia District of Kenya since 2007, targeting Maasai women and youth. The project is based on a partnership agreement with the Maasai Cultural Heritage Foundation (MCH) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which aims to assist the Laikipia Maasai in the protection, management, strengthening and promotion of their cultural heritage, for their own cultural and economic development.

Following community consultations in 2006 and a validation workshop in 2007, the ILO has provided a grant to MCH to work with three women and two youth groups. All the groups are working within the Ilngwesi community and have well established structures and are legally registered under the Ministry of Culture and Social Services. Each group has opened a bank account and maintains a record of financial transactions and minutes of meetings. An umbrella Steering Committee has been set up by the partners to monitor and settle disputes among members. After a series of community consultations, trainings and visits to other communities MCH provided loans to the groups, which interest will be used to develop community infrastructure, creation of additional jobs in the community and facilitating the perpetuation of Maasai culture.

The three women's groups used the loans to increase their capital for beadwork and livestock marketing while the two youth groups used it to strengthen the community tourism project led by the youth (Camel Safari Trek and Maasai Warrior Performing Group). Both women and youth groups also started to diversify their economic activities by venturing into retail shops, wheat and vegetables farming.

One of the indirect effects of the project is that women have started to talk about issues that affect them in particular, such as issues of early marriage, child labour and access to quality education, health and social infrastructure. With limited means, these women are providing options to their children and their husbands and other male members of their communities are listening to them.

A monitoring visit was conducted from 26 March to 4 April 2009. The visit culminated with a community workshop with all the partners coming together and sharing experiences and challenges, lessons learned and assessment of the impact of the project. The community workshop resulted in all member groups drawing up a proposal for the second phase of the ILO and MCH partnership (2009).

Morse Caoagas Flores, PRO 169 Staff, Geneva
E-mail: floresm@ilo.org

Read more about Kenya


Forthcoming Events

In the context of ongoing country-level programmes, a series of activities are foreseen in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, and Nepal. In addition, the following major regional or international events are foreseen:

Regional Good Practice Seminar in Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, 24-28 June 2009

The overall purpose of the seminar is to promote the implementation of indigenous peoples' rights in the African region through discussion and dissemination of experiences, good practice and lessons learned. The seminar is expected to facilitate a process, whereby government and indigenous institutions can assess their specific needs for capacity building and technical assistance and strengthen their networking at the regional level. PRO 169 is organizing the regional seminar in Africa in collaboration with the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and Pastoralists and Hunter- Gatherers Network of Kenya.

ILO component of the OHCHR Indigenous Fellowship Programme

ILO Headquarters, Geneva

The ILO contributes on an annual basis to the Indigenous Fellowship Programme of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. ILO staff and partners also participate in order to maximise the output of the programme. Below are the dates of the fellow's presence at the ILO.

International Training Course on Indigenous Peoples Rights and Development

ILO-ITC Training, Turin, Italy, 19-23 October 2009.

This is an annual international training course held at the ILO Training Centre in Turin, Italy. The course focuses on indigenous peoples' rights and development and aims to strengthen the capacity of indigenous and tribal peoples' representatives, policy makers, and national and international professional staff in order to promote and apply indigenous peoples' rights in the context of policy development and dialogue as well as technical cooperation programmes and to support indigenous and tribal peoples communities in identifying and designing their own development strategies.



If you require further information on anything you have read in this newsletter, advice, copies of our publication, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Programme to Promote ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (PRO 169)
International Labour Standards Department
International Labour Office
Route des Morillons, CH - 1211 Geneva 22
Email: pro169@ilo.org

In order to access a comprehensive series of resource materials, documents, publications, training materials and relevant country and thematic information, please visit: www.ilo.org/indigenous www.ilo.org/indigenous

In addition, PRO 169 has launched an online training website on indigenous peoples' rights which features background materials, video interviews, Power Point presentations and documentaries on various themes and issues: pro169.org

All materials on the training website are also available in hard copies and/or on CD-ROM upon request by sending an e-mail to: pro169@ilo.org



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