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Indigenous peoples’ rights to land at the core of a paradigm shift – why?

This and many other trends can be understood by browsing through The Indigenous World 2018. The only book available that offers a comprehensive yearly overview of the developments Indigenous Peoples experience around the world.

In the last years, we have witnessed an increased attention to the fundamental role land rights play in sustainable development. And if it is about defense of land rights, indigenous communities have historically been in the frontline against aggressive land development policies, now leading a wake-up call to recognise distinctive cultures.

“2017 can be read as the beginning of an era that offers substantial opportunities for the world to change its relationship with indigenous communities, their ancestral land and identities”, describes Julie Koch, Executive Director at IWGIA.

Conflicts increasing on indigenous lands 

The rising tensions between states and indigenous peoples are reaching a tipping point and The Indigenous World 2018 adds to the documented records, highlighting the increase in attacks and killings of indigenous peoples while defending their lands. The 56 country reports and 13 reports on international processes in this edition underscore this global trend.

The increasing cases of forced evictions, land grabbing, criminalisation, killings, harassment and militarization on indigenous land compiled in the book show why indigenous peoples are key actors to achieve sustainable development. Suppressing indigenous peoples’ demands to a healthy environment will have an impact on how our planet will look if natural resource extraction keeps expanding. If states and business fail to protect those last standing on the world’s remaining natural diversity, what else remains to be exploited?

Indigenous human rights defenders target of violence

As a countermeasure, indigenous organisations are gearing up to track the toll in terms of deaths and harassment. In Colombia, the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC) reported in 2017 alone: 45 murders, 122 threats, 827 unjust incarcerations and 3,800 indigenous peoples displaced. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, KATRIBU in the Philippines recorded 37 cases of extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples, 62 illegal arrests, 21 political prisoners, 20 incidents of forced evacuation affecting 21,966 indigenous peoples and more than a hundred-people facing trumped up charges since President Duterte was elected in July 2016. The Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) in Indonesia also recorded 21 land-related cases faced by indigenous peoples in relation to infrastructure development projects on indigenous territories.

“Indigenous peoples remain among the most criminalised environmental defenders, marking the beginning of a paradigm shift in which indigenous peoples’ rights could become the beacon of inclusive development”, says Julie Koch.

Environmental human rights protection gains momentum

The outbreak of violence against indigenous human rights defenders documented in this book is, however, also met with policy changes aimed at improving the safety of environmental defenders. Some encouraging developments in this edition also show that the indigenous movement has placed itself at the core of a future paradigm shift, pushing for a more inclusive and sustainable development.

“Indigenous peoples’ resilience while protecting their lands is remarkable. They are one of the main forces inspiring change for a more sustainable development”, explains Julie Koch, Executive Director at IWGIA.

Indigenous peoples, in partnership with civil society and other human rights defenders, have strengthened their resilience on all fronts, increased their capacity to advocate for their demands and to lead a global wake-up call to respect and abide by indigenous traditional knowledge and worldviews.

The Indigenous World 2018 is free to download from from April 18th, 2018. Need further information, interviews or experts? Please contact Pamela Jacquelin-Andersen [email protected] – +45 31533016

About the book

The book is the result of a collaborative effort between indigenous and non-indigenous activists and scholars who voluntarily share their valuable insights and analysis. In this edition, 83 authors from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Arctic and the Pacific line-up the main events impacting the lives of indigenous communities in 2017, making the book a go-to reference for everyone who wishes to be updated on the rights of indigenous peoples. The 2018 edition is dedicated to the situation of the rights to lands, territories and resources of indigenous peoples.


IWGIA is an international human rights organisation promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. For 50 years, IWGIA has supported the fight for indigenous peoples’ rights. We work through a global network of indigenous peoples’ organisations and international human rights bodies. We promote the recognition, respect and implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights to land, cultural integrity and development on their own terms.

Tags: human rights; indigenous peoples; sustainable development

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Contact Information:
Pamela Jacquelin-Andersen [email protected]

IPS News Agency, Press Release, Civil Society Newswire, North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, English


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Indigenous peoples’ rights to land at the core of a paradigm shift – why?


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