Wednesday, November 30 • 3:00pm - 4:40pm
Ending the Criminalization of Indigenous Human Rights Defenders: The Way Forward

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(Version française ci-jointe)
(Versión en español adjunta)

Interpretation available in English, French and Spanish

Session organized by the UN Working Group on business and human rights in collaboration with IPRI, IWGIA, Forest Peoples, CAOI, Foro Abaya Yala, IPACC, AIPP and DOCIP.

Version en francais en piece jointe/ Version en espanol en adjunto

Brief Description of the Session

‘I could tell you that, around the world, three people are killed every week while trying to protect their land, their environment, from extractive forces. I could tell you that this has been going on for decades, with the numbers killed in recent years hitting over 200 each year […] Each killed defending not only their own treasured places, but the health of the planet which we all share. […] It's important to picture these victims as the real people they are.’
- Dr Vandana Shiva (quoted in Decade of Defiance, 2022)

According to Global Witness, among the 200 defenders killed in 2021 for peacefully defending their lands and the natural environment from large-scale industrial development, more than 40% were Indigenous leaders and activists. Similarly, back in 2020, Front Line Defenders reported at least 331 killings of human rights defenders (HRDs) in 32 countries and territories, which marked an 18 percent increase from the previous year, along with 19 enforced disappearances in 14 countries and territories. Of these 331 defenders killed, approximately 30% were Indigenous activists. Developed in consultation with Indigenous groups and organizations, this session will spotlight the ongoing attacks, criminalization, and widespread persecution faced by Indigenous defenders involved in opposing and raising awareness about business-related human rights abuses. Crucially, Indigenous representatives—alongside State and business speakers—will discuss the way forward: that is, what needs to change and the ways in which meaningful change can happen to protect Indigenous voices and duly acknowledge their collective contribution to advancing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), as well as the business and human rights movement.

Key Objectives of the Session:
This session aims to:
  • Highlight the challenges faced by Indigenous peoples when defending their rights against business-related abuses;
  • Share emerging good practices for preventing and eradicating the attacks, criminalization, and other threats faced by Indigenous peoples in the context of business activities;
  • Identify opportunities for cooperation among Indigenous human rights defenders, States, and businesses to facilitate the adoption and implementation of the UNGPs.

Key Discussion Questions:
  • What are the key trends and patterns with regard to attacks, criminalization, and other forms of persecution against Indigenous peoples in the context of business activities? And to what extent does this vary from sector-to-sector and/or country-to-country?Brief Description of the Session: 
  •  What measures have States taken to address this situation, including through policies, laws and regulations, and dispute resolution mechanisms?
  • What measures have businesses taken to respect Indigenous peoples’ rights, including through policies, due diligence processes, and remediation?
  • How can the Guiding Principles and their implementation in practice be more sensitised to the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples?
  • How can States and businesses work more collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to uphold the spirit of the UNGPs?
Additional Background or Relevant Links:

avatar for Francisco Cali

Francisco Cali

Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, United Nations Special Procedure
José Francisco Cali Tzay, es indígena Maya Cakchiquel de Guatemala y desde 1 de mayo de 2020 es Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas. Fue presidente del Comité para la Eliminación de la Discriminación Racial (CERD).José Francisco... Read More →

avatar for Marie-Laura Schmitt

Marie-Laura Schmitt

German Federal Foreign Office, Business and Human Rights Division
Marie-Laura is currently working at the Business and Human Rights Division of the German Federal Foreign Office. Within her work, Marie-Laura focuses on the different processes regarding the UNGPs at the national, European and international level. She is a fully qualified lawyer and... Read More →
avatar for Pichamon Yeophantong

Pichamon Yeophantong

Member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Ms. Pichamon Yeophantong is Associate Professor and Head of Research at the Centre for Future Defence and National Security, Deakin University. She also leads the Responsible Business Lab and the Environmental Justice and Human Rights Project, which are funded by an Australian Research... Read More →
avatar for Haajarah Ahmed

Haajarah Ahmed

Manager, International Council on Mining and Metals - ICMM
Haajarah joined ICMM in 2022 as a Manager. She is responsible for leading ICMM’s Indigenous Peoples project and contributes to the delivery of ICMM’s human rights project, and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) practice group. Prior to joining ICMM, Haajarah worked in policy... Read More →
avatar for Nittaya Earkanna-Mee

Nittaya Earkanna-Mee

Director, Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT)
Nittaya Earkanna-Mee, the Director of the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT), EC member of Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and member of the Coordinating Committee on Development in the Northern of Thailand. I am Hmong indigenous group... Read More →
avatar for Adrian Lasimbang

Adrian Lasimbang

Director, Community Development & Regenerative Farming VERDE Resources (Malaysia)
Adrian Lasimbang an Indigenous Kadazan from Penampang, Malaysian Borneo. He was former president and founder of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) the umbrella body for Indigenous Peoples’ organisations in Malaysia consolidating the voices of indigenous communities in Malaysia... Read More →
avatar for Diel Mochire Mwenge

Diel Mochire Mwenge

Member of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, Pygmee Batwa Bambuti Babuluko
Mochire Mwenge Diel, né à Lukando, le 10/10/1979, Pygmée Batwa Bambuti Babuluko de la province du Nord-Kivu, qui se trouve à l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC). Expert National sur les questions autochtones et des Minorités. En tant que boursier du Haut-commissariat... Read More →
avatar for Dulcy Maria Cotes Van- grieken

Dulcy Maria Cotes Van- grieken

Lideresa, organización indígena Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuú
Dulcy Maria Cotes Van- grieken, mujer Wayuú del clan Epinayú del territorio de Cucurumana, ubicado en la Guajira al norte de Colombia, defensora del agua, el territorio y el derecho propio y lideresa de la organización indígena Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuú, cuyo trabajo está dedicado... Read More →

Wednesday November 30, 2022 3:00pm - 4:40pm CET
Room XX