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Questionnaire: Follow up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Dear Friends,

Indigenous Peoples around the world are invited to provide their valuable input in responding a questionnaire on the follow up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples 2014 by 6 April 2015 at:

Los Pueblos Indígenas de todas partes del mundo están invitados a proveer sus opiniones respondiendo a un Cuestionario en relación al seguimiento de la Conferencia Mundial De Los Pueblos Indígenas . Fecha límite para respuestas 6 de abril de 2015

Les peuples autochtones du monde entier sont invités à apporter leur contribution précieuse à répondre à un questionnaire sur le suivi de la Conférence mondiale sur les peuples autochtones 2014 de 6 Avril 2015

Коренные народы всего мира приглашаются внести свой ценный вклад, путем ответа на анкету, касающуюся последующей деятельности по итогам Всемирной конференции по коренным народам 2014 до 6 апреля 2015 года.

Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

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Physical Assaults Against Indigenous Human Rights Defenders in Mexico Continue

From Danika Billie Littlechild, International Indian Treaty Council Legal Council: Over the past number of weeks, International Indian Treaty Council has been attempting to shine an international United Nations spotlight on a terrible and violent situation faced by my friend and colleague Berenice Sánchez in Mexico. We filed three urgent appeals with UN Special Procedures. Tonight, we have received word that Berenice has been reported to have been SEVERELY BEATEN earlier today, and possibly been charged with criminal charges after being attacked by a “shock group” organized by a municipal government/potentially other actors that want to develop the ancestral territories, lands, forests and water of the Otomi Indigenous Peoples of San Francisco Magu, Mexico. Her cell phone has been taken from her. We have no way of knowing what her current condition is. What can you do? Write an email of concern! 
See more information on this urgent case at:

Community members request that letters to support their stand against imposed development in their traditional territories and to insist that their safety be ensured be sent to

Jaime Martínez Veloz, Commissioner for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples of Mexico (Comisionado para el Diálogo con los Pueblos Indígenas de México) [per Alejandro Robledo Flores, Asistente del Arq. Jaime Martínez Veloz] ,

You can also write to, Attention: Mr. Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions & Michel Forst United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Regarding: Assault of Berenice Sanchez, Otomi Rights Defender, San Francisco Magu

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OHCHR Indigenous Fellowship – 2016 Training Programme (English language)

Call for applications:

The Indigenous Fellowship Programme was launched in 1997 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the context of the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The aim of the programme is to give representatives of indigenous peoples the opportunity to gain knowledge on the UN system and mechanisms dealing with human rights issues in general and indigenous issues in particular. Trained participants are better equipped to assist their organisations and communities in protecting and promoting their rights. This training programme is available in 4 languages: English, Spanish, French and Russian.

Please note that the deadline to receive applications for the 2016 English language component of the Indigenous Fellowship Programme is: 25 May 2015.

You can find the 2016 application form as well as explanations on how to apply on our web page in these 2 links:

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IITC Submits Urgent Communication to the United Nations citing Human Rights Violations and Death Threats Against Indigenous Human Rights Defenders in Mexico

On Feb. 17, 2015 the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) submitted an urgent communication to three United Nations (UN) human rights mandate holders. It cited serious human rights violations, including physical assaults and death threats against 18 Indigenous human rights defenders opposing a large scale development impacting the Otomi Indigenous community of San Francisco MaguMexico. The communication was submitted to Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions which also addresses death threats. It was copied to Jaime Martínez Veloz, Commissioner for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples of Mexico (Comisionado para el Diálogo con los Pueblos Indígenas de México).

The Indigenous Human Rights Defenders who have received death threats include María Berenice Sánchez Lozada, IITC’s Food Sovereignty Program Coordinator in Mexico and a member of the San Francisco Magu Otomi Community Council. In December 2012, IITC submitted an urgent action against the planned development to Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya on behalf of San Francisco Magu Otomi Community and the Indigenous organization Di Sugave a Nana Shimjaí. The development was halted until recently, when plans were renewed with the support of the Municipality. 

San Francisco Magu Otomi community, Municipality of Nicolás Romero, State of Mexico, continues to firmly oppose a planned large-scale real estate development on their traditional territory which would decimate their traditional forest and agricultural lands and deplete the water sources essential for their survival and way of life. 

The IITC communication notes that the Municipality’s and Developer’s actions violate Article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which outlines the need to obtain Indigenous Peoples free prior and informed consent before development projects affecting their lands, territories or other resources are approved or carried out. On August 31st, 2014 the Otomi community adopted a resolution declaring an “Indigenous Food Sovereignty Zone” on their traditional territories, in part to protect them against this imposed development. 

Despite the opposition of the Indigenous Community Council, the Municipality of Nicolás Romero issued a permit to change the land use so that the development can move forward. The Municipal President recently formed a “shock group” and filed an investigation into the activities of the Otomi Community Council, accusing 25 community members of “dispossession, abuse of power, theft, sedition, mutiny and rebellion.” 

IITC’s communication cited this as a stark example of the ongoing criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders. It called upon the UN Human Rights Rapporteurs to seek, receive, examine and respond to information on the urgent situation of these Indigenous human rights defenders. It also emphasized the need for immediate UN intervention to provide mediation and insist that the government of Mexico carry out its obligations to ensure their safety and protect their lives. 

For additional Information contact: 

Danika Littlechild, Legal Counsel, 


María Berenice Sánchez Lozada 

Cell number: 044 55 23 39 39 28 


Community members request that letters to support their stand against imposed development in their traditional territories and to insist that their safety be ensured be sent to: 

Jaime Martínez Veloz, Commissioner for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples of Mexico (Comisionado para el Diálogo con los Pueblos Indígenas de México) [per Alejandro Robledo Flores, Asistente del Arq. Jaime Martínez Veloz] ,]   

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How to Maximize Your Effectiveness at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

[photo credit: Cultural Survival]

[photo credit: Cultural Survival]

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council that meets annually to discuss Indigenous issues related to economic and social development,culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights. The intensive 10-day session brings together Indigenous Peoples, member states, UN agencies, programs, and funds as well as academics and activists at UN headquarters in New York to exchange best practices on advancing Indigenous Peoples’ rights. For many delegates, the personal measurement of successful participation is the delivery of an intervention on at least  one agenda item, optimally with their specific situation being cited in the Forum’s concluding observations. Adopting a strategy to prepare for the Forum can result in tangible improvements in the daily lives of Indigenous Peoples. Following are specific steps to help create a successful Forum experience.

 The Expert Group Meeting

Each January, the Expert Group Meeting invites Indigenous leaders, independent scholars, and UN officials to address a specific theme, launching a dialogue on the legal and moral issues raised at the previous session. Specific language is then drafted for the official study to be presented at the upcoming session. The 2015 theme is “Dialogue on an Optional Protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” You can prepare a paper for presentation related to the theme to have a voice in determining the direction of the study. Consult your community to examine the significance of the specific study and how it could contribute to changing your local situation. Proposals can include bold and specific language that will prove valuable to Indigenous Peoples. If it is not possible to attend, one can still follow the meeting and discuss the papers presented. This will allow for better preparation for the actual Forum and for drafting intervention that can contribute to the final discussion.

In-Country Preparatory and Regional Meetings

Experts gather to meet with the Forum secretariat and witness firsthand the Indigenous situation at the invitation of a host country’s government. This meeting suggests How Maximize Your Effectiveness at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues specific agenda items to be featured at the annual session. Additionally, regional preparatory meetings usually take place a couple of months prior to the actual Forum. Each of the seven Indigenous regions hosts a meeting with  Indigenous Peoples on a regional position paper addressing specific agenda items. These meetings allow for a collective conversation about how each agenda item relates to Indigenous Peoples’ experience, and can be a space for drafting interventions and seeking out specific speakers to contribute to the main stage of the Forum. Offering personal, regional examples to the global stage will illuminate the urgency of the issue.

Organizing a Side Event

The regional preparatory meetings are an opportunity to identify side events that would be valuable to improving Indigenous rights. Be sure to include Indigenous voices directly. Brainstorm the UN agencies, programs, and funds as well as major civil society actors that have a mission or mandate to be able to partner for a side event, and will also follow up to protect fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples. Prepare the necessary paperwork to request rooms for side events and register for the Forum well ahead of the deadlines.

Maintain the Momentum

As the Forum’s popularity increased over the past decade (over 2,000 delegates attended the most recent session), it became increasingly clear that it would be impossible to accommodate the ever-increasing number of Indigenous nations arriving at the doorstep of the diplomatic world. The Forum secretariat, member, and chairs realized that the regional meetings could serve as essential preparation for prioritization of specific language for interventions. The measure allowing regions to speak first on each agenda item has encouraged Indigenous Peoples to work together prior to the session to survey their regions for specific, common situations and develop a set of recommendations to share. In the months leading up to the Forum, it is important to maintain the momentum generated from the regional preparatory meetings.

Participate in Caucuses

Youth and women have added to the traditional regional collaboration to guarantee a unified voice on each agenda item. The Women’s Caucus has continued to expand its engagement with increasing days of preparation, while the Youth Caucus continues to professionalize its participation with weekend training and the creation of core groups todraft interventions. Indigenous Peoples with disabilities have also created a caucus that continues to increase its presence at the Forum. It is important for Indigenous delegations to participate in these regional caucuses, but also to participate in the thematic caucus to offer alternative avenues for advocacy.

In the month prior to the Forum, it is crucial to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with officials from UN agencies, programs, and funds that participate in the session as well as other institutions that haven’t attended but have mandates pertinent to promotion and protection of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. You can arrange meetings with these organizations when in New York, as most have offices located within a block of UN headquarters. These meetings are an opportunity for two styles of “asks:” one to immediately cease a project that has been harmful to Indigenous Peoples, and one to propose a specific new program that would enhance respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It is also a good idea to request specific contact from the organization in-country upon return to one’s homeland.

Special Rapporteur: Register Early

It is important to register early to meet with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only short time slots are available, so you should come prepared with documentation supporting the most pertinent points. Read recent thematic reports ahead of time so you can provide examples for the current reports being compiled. The meeting can also be used to request a future country visit and to begin mapping out that schedule. This is an opportunity to share latest developments and to request specific actions including a press conference, a letter to the government requesting response, or a condemnation of specific rights violations.

Finalize the Intervention

The intervention should be drafted in close consultation with your community prior to the Forum. When preparing an intervention, it is imperative to lead with recommendations. Research whether any recommendations were adopted in previous sessions, and note the progress on implementation of these recommendations. New recommendations should be followed with example paragraphs that exemplify the essence of the recommendations. It is important to think through the entire Forum process, connecting recommendations with the UN agencies whose mandates deal with the agenda item and including specific actions the UN should take to assist Indigenous Peoples in realizing the recommendations. Final edits with the most current examples and related research can take place immediately prior to the Forum.

Utilize All Resources Available

The Forum is comprised of 16 independent experts functioning in their personal capacity, who serve for a term of 3 years as members and may be reelected or reappointed for 1 additional term. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and eight are nominated directly by Indigenous organizations in their regions. It is vital to meet with the Forum expert from your region. Building a relationship with the rapporteur is also important as this person prepares the first draft of the report released on the final Friday of the session, to be read before the entire Forum assembly. The actual 10-day session is the culmination of an annual campaign offering actions and implementation of recommendations.

A weekend training prior to the Forum providing historical analysis and how-to advocacy action, including drafting of interventions for first time Forum attendees, can strengthen the entire process. The actual session is a whirlwind two weeks with side events, concurrent conferences, rights receptions, and film festivals. The more preparation that is done in advance, the more it will be possible to accomplish on each agenda item during the Forum.

Next year’s session of the UNPFII takes place April 20–May 1 2015. Keep track of dates and deadlines at the UNPFII website:

Author: Joshua Cooper

Source:  Cultural Survival Quarterly Issue 38-4 Indigenous Rights Protect Us All (December 2014) 

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Tribal Link is on Facebook

Did you know Tribal Link Foundation maintains a page on Facebook?  If you are on Facebook, please visit our page and give us a “LIKE”. Social Media like Facebook helps us raise the visibility of Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Link’s work. 
Our Tribal Link Facebook page can be viewed at: 
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Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Questionnaire

In Resolution 27/13 of 24 September 2014 the Human Rights Council requested the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous peoples to:

“…continue to undertake, with the assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the questionnaire survey to seek the views of States and indigenous peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies in order to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a view to completing a final summary of responses for presentation to the Human Rights Council at its thirtieth session.”

This questionnaire is deliberately designed to emulate, as much as possible, the questionnaire to States so as to facilitate easy comparison in responses and generate ideas for partnerships between States and indigenous peoples for implementation of the Declaration.

Responses from Indigenous Peoples will be analysed and compiled in a report by the Expert Mechanism, which will be finalized during the 8th session of the Expert Mechanism in July 2015 for presentation to the Human Rights Council at its 30th session in September 2015. Unless otherwise requested, responses of indigenous peoples to the questionnaire will be made available on the website of the Expert Mechanism. Responses will also inform the ongoing review of the Expert Mechanism’s mandate, in accordance with the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (A/RES/69/2).

Responses are requested by 2 March 2015.

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