International organizations condemn the murder of Indigenous Leader Bertha Cáceres in Honduras

International condemn of the murder of indigenous leader Bertha Cáceres in Honduras
4th March 2016, Planet Earth
Berta Cáceres, indigenous leader and spokeperson for more than 20 years of the Civic Council of Popular and Inigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – Copinh), was murdered on 3rd March while she was resting in her home in La Esperanza, Intibucá, about 188 km from Tegucigalpa, by “unknown” gunmen.
Bertha Cáceres was a firm defender of small farmers and indigenous peoples’ rights and an inspiring social activist, both at regional and continental level, in defense of social and environmental justice, particularly against mining megaprojects and hydropower plants.
She had warned amny times about Free Trade Agreements as part of the machinery of impunity of transnational corporations. Bertha committed her life to health, land, against patriarchism and violence. She opposed the political golpe of 28th June 2009; COPINH denounced the golpe as an instrument of violence serving transnational corporations to exploit resources and to repress the dissent of social movements. Bertha also opposed US military bases on Lenca territory.
In April 2015, Bertha Cáceres was awarded with Goldman price, one of the most prestigious awards for environmental defenders. She was awarded for her hard work in defense of the Lenca territory against the Agua Zarca Hydropower Project of the Chinese transnational SINOHYDRO and national company Desarrollo Energético Sociedad Anónima (DESA).
Lenca people had been denouncing for years the violation of human right to water as source of life and culture by corporates, military and governmental actors.
Berta Cáceres was mother of four and was assigned precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) which were not accomplished by the state. Bertha has been assassinated by a state who protect the interests of local capital, transnational corporations who have spoiled the territory. Bertha’s commitment in favour of life, of those most in need, was reason of several trials, investigations and threats against her.
The indigenous leader denounced many times death threats against her, and this was happening among a general violent context; 111 environmental activists in Honduras have been killed between 2002 and 2014, according to the 2014 report “¿Cuántos más?” of the ONG Global Witness. This makes Honduras the country with the highest rate of violence among the 17 countries analysed in the report. It also shows the architecture of impunity and violence of the large scale mining, of the hydroelectric business, among other activities in favour of private capital and complicit governments. According to the Honduras-based organization ACI-PARTICIPA (Asociación para la participación ciudadana en Honduras) more than 90% of assassinations and abuses in the country remain unpunished.
We firmly demands to the government of Honduras:
– To put an end to impunity and proper investigation on the murder of Bertha Cáceres, as well as of all other social and environmental justice activists.
– To ensure the integrity, freedom and to respect Human Rights of Gustavo Castro de Soto and of Aureliano Molina.
– To suspend all projects that have been denounced by Human Rights defenders, among which the Hydropower plant Agua Zarca on Rio Blanco and the Blue Energy project on Rio Cangel.
– That corporations and finance institutions withdraw their support and investments from projects that have violated HHRR or where there has been no free prior and informed consultation, according to ILO Convention 169.
– To put an end to persecution and criminalization of Human Rights defenders and to accomplish with all  precautionary measures for the integrity and safety of people.
We express our solidarity and extend our condolences to the family and close friends of Bertha Cáceres, to the Lenca people, and to the people of Honduras who suffer her irreparable loss.
Finally, we call for an international peoples’ mobilization and immediate denounce of Bertha’s assassination to the embassies and consulates of Honduras in our respective countries, to express our repudiation of such crimes and our firm demand of justice. 
*Photo courtesy of

URGENT APPEAL – Five Lumads hurt as an evacuation camp in UCCP Haran, Davao City set to fire

KARAPATAN URGENT APPEAL FOR ACTION: Five Lumads hurt as an evacuation camp in UCCP Haran, Davao City set to fire

Dear Friends,

Please join us in calling for an independent investigation on the burning of the evacuation camp of Lumad at the compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Davao City on February 24, 2016. Let us join hands in calling for an end to the harassment of Lumad evacuees and the pullout of military troops in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Bukidnon where the Lumad evacuees came from.


Jong Monzon, secretary general of PASAKA, a federation of Lumad organizations in the Southern Mindanao region, narrated that at 2:30 a.m. on February 24, 2016, evacuees woke up to the smell of gasoline poured on the canvas roofs of their tents at the evacuation center. Immediately after, the tents were set aflame when a lighted torch was thrown in. Five makeshift houses were already consumed by the fire when it was put out. Monzon said that he and other leaders went out after extinguishing the fire to report to the authorities about the incident. On their way, they saw the gasoline container that was used by the perpetrators.

Monzon and several other leaders immediately called the local 911 to report the incident. Media personnel and police officials responded to the scene and interviewed some of the Lumad evacuees, including Monzon. Monzon recounted that at the middle of the interview, a pedicab driver approached them to report that another fire has started in the dormitories of the UCCP compound, which was roughly 100 meters from the evacuation camp. The dormitory houses Haran workers and students.

Witnesses said that something was thrown into the vicinity of the dormitory which caused the explosion. Later investigations found that two lines of barbed wires were cut by the perpetrators to enter the UCCP compound. A bag containing a 1.5 liters soft drink bottle full of gasoline was also found.

Five were hurt during the incident, with three needing hospitalization, including two children. The children suffered burns when the canvas roofs melted and fell on the children’s feet. Some also had burns in their hands. The victims were sent to a hospital, but were denied attention. Hospital authorities claimed there was no recommendation from the 911 personnel. The injured are now under the care of health workers and medics inside the Haran compound.

The perpetrators were described by those in the evacuation center as three men, aboard a motorcycle. A white cap, which belonged to the one of the perpetrators was even left behind, stuck in the cyclone wires.

Initial reports from the Bureau of Fire Protection in Davao City pointed to arson.

The incident is part of a series of harassments and threats, which are no longer new to the evacuees seeking shelter in UCCP-Haran. Monzon reports that the military and members of the ALAMARA paramilitary group held a rally outside the UCCP once.

Monzon stated that as early as December 17 last year, ALAMARA has already threatened to burn the evacuation center in UCCP.

On July 23, 2015, however, Nancy Catamco, representative of the 2nd district of North Cotabato, brought anti-riot policemen and buses to force the Lumad evacuees to return to their communities. The incident resulted in a skirmish between the evacuees and the police and paramilitay elements.

The more than 700 evacuees started to arrive at the UCCP- Haran, batches, starting February 2015. Most them are from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte, while a number came from Kitaotao in Bukidnon province. The Lumad fled their communities when soldiers and military-backed ALAMARA militia forces occupied their communities and forcibly recruited them into the paramilitary group.

The continuing harassment on the Lumad evacuees seeking refuge at the UCCP Haran, and the insistence of state agencies to force them back to their communities, show a lack of understanding of their plight and a lack of concern for their safety and welfare.

Recommended actions:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:
1. The immediate investigation of the incident to be conducted by an independent body;
2. An end to the continued harassment and intimidation of Lumad in and out of their communities;
3. The immediate pullout of government troops from the Lumad communities;
4. The disbandment of all paramilitary groups;
5. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians; and
6. The Philippine Government to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600

Emmanuel L. CaparasSecretary, Department of JusticePadre Faura St., ManilaDirect Line 521-8344; 5213721Trunkline: 523-84-81 loc.214Fax: (+632) 521-1614Email: Luis Martin GasconChairperson, Commission on Human RightsSAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth AvenueDiliman, Quezon City, PhilippinesVoice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:
URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146


*photo credits to BAYAN-USA

Stop the trade in deadly conflict minerals, SIGN the Petition Now!

Spanish Translation follows by Google Translate/Traducción Español seguido por Google Translate
Our friends from London Mining Network and Stop Mad Mining seek our support to ensure that the EU governments require the companies that import minerals to review their sourcing policies in line with a credible procedure. This might help stop the conflicts in minerals and serious human rights violations in many regions of the EU. 
Let us support this initiative by signing the Online Petition by clicking these links:
Kindly read and share to your friends, colleagues and networks
In solidarity,
June Detayson
IPMSDL Secretariat
Nuestros amigos de London Mining Network y Parada Mad Minería buscan nuestro apoyo para asegurar que los gobiernos de la UE requieren las empresas que importan minerales para revisar sus políticas de aprovisionamiento de acuerdo con un procedimiento creíble. Esto podría ayudar a detener los conflictos en minerales y violaciónes graves de los derechos humanos en muchas regiones de la UE.
Apoyemos a esta iniciativa firmando la petición en línea haciendo clic en estos enlaces:
La amabilidad de leer y compartir con sus amigos, colegas y redes
En solidaridad,
June Detayson
Secretaría IPMSDL


This period of the US War of Terror, indigenous peoples have to battle with the labeling and vilification of being terrorists. Indigenous peoples struggles for self-determination, to defend ancestral lands from imperialist plunder, distinct identities from racism and discrimination, culture and traditions from misrepresentation and commercialization, often, State governments brand as acts of terrorism. At such, we are subject to the worst forms of human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, indiscriminate bombings, mass evacuations, torture and the like. Branded as terrorists, legal protection appears inadequate especially in the light of anti-terror legislations.
More often than not, the discussions on human rights and self-determination are limited to laws. Debate occurs on the intent, scope and implementation of these legal instruments. This is so, as the language of most conventional instruments is often vague and ambiguous, it leaves room to various interpretations thus, controversies arise. In most cases, these debates, narrow down to application and implementation as provided in law. Largely negating the historical context and concrete situations where these laws are applied.
Also, State governments and inter-governmental institutions, such as the UN, are not necessarily the appropriate entities to initiate such a discussion. The composing States, the majority of which employ violence to quell peoples’ resistance and popular criticism, and have an abusive human rights track record. In tandem with deceit, they work for the protection of the status quo, including the status of existing States. Thus, we find built-in mechanisms for such end like territorial integrity and non-interference where relations between governments and the people under their rule, as a subject belonging to the internal affairs of States.
However, we cannot altogether ignore governmental and UN instruments and mechanisms, as these are majority of conventional standards. Human rights and the right to self-determination in law are victories of peoples’ movements from positive engagement in processes and procedures provided by States and inter-governmental institutions. More importantly, these are hard earned victories from peoples’ struggles for freedom, justice and human rights, and growing international solidarity among peoples.
The discussion on human rights and self-determination must go beyond what the law on human rights and self-determination is, to what it should be. We have much to do to further the promotion and protection of human rights, and to expand the scope and meaning of human rights from the peoples’ perspectives of national liberation and self-determination.
1 Reference paper prepared by Beverly L. Longid, KATRIBU Partylist, International Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Alternatives and Solutions to the Climate Crisis, November 6-9, 2010, Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines, organized by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), People’s Movement on Climate Change (PMCC), Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN), IBON International, and Land is Life. NOTE: From the original text, the presenter made minor edits and included cases in the last section on International Jurisprudence.

The following as a reference paper enumerates existing international instruments on selfdetermination and liberation. It attempts a chronological presentation of developments from the articulation of self-determination and liberation as a concept to a principle and later a right of oppressed and exploited peoples then as a legal right in international law. It shall maintain the legitimacy of self-determination and liberation struggles – legitimacy not only in law but more importantly legitimacy from the justness of peoples’ struggles.
Historical research traces the articulation of the political concept of revolution and selfdetermination to the American Revolutionary War (a war between the 13 colonies in North America against Great Britain from 1775-1783).
The 13 colonies known as America questioned the legitimacy of the British Parliament to govern and exact taxation without representation and on issues of coercive acts against them. The British Parliament ignored petitions to this effect and instead sent in British troops to enforce its governance. The Declaration of Taking Up Arms: Resolutions of the Second Continental Congress 6 July 1775 as its title provides, explains the taking up of arms while maintaining obedience to the British Crown.
“In our own native land, in defense of the freedom that is our birthright, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it — for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our forefathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.” (Emphasis provided)
The following year, in response to the proclamation of the illegality of the colonies, the Americans responded by formally declaring their independence as one new nation — the United States of America — claiming their own sovereignty and rejecting any allegiance to the British monarchy. The Declaration of Independence of 4 July 1776 categorically states:
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Governments, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (Emphasis provided)
Following this, Abraham Lincoln in his 1861 Inaugural Address said:
“(T)his country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.” (Emphasis provided)
US Supreme Court Justice Black has stated: “Since the beginning of history there have been governments that have engaged in practices against the people so bad, so cruel, so unjust and destructive of the individual dignity of men and women that the ‘right to revolution’ was all the people had left to free themselves. xxx I venture the suggestion that there are countless multitudes in this country and all over the world, who would join [the] belief in the right of the people to resist by force tyrannical governments like those.”
The French Revolution of 1798 expressed similar principles in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Succeeding national liberation movements would further develop and expound self-determination and liberation until its continuing codification in international law.
***This is not to say, however, that such articulation justifies the onslaught inflicted by these colonies against the indigenous peoples or First Nations in North America. We are one with them in their demand for justice and just reclamation of their territories for survival.

In discussing self-determination, it is unavoidable to discuss liberation or national liberation movements, revolution and armed struggle against established authority. Oftentimes, we interchangeably use these terms. Our history as indigenous peoples illustrates valiant resistance of our forebears against colonization and intrusions to our ancestral lands. They fought, lost a few but won most battles against modern artillery of the colonizers and modern day invaders. They also participated in struggles for national independence and sovereignty.
Liberation is self-determination and a free exercise of the right thereof. It goes beyond concepts and principles, as it addresses concrete situations and harsh realities of State oppression and repression. It is not simply self-defense or a last option and rights as granted by States.
K. Marx and F. Engels view that there were oppressor and oppressed nations, and oppressed nations should be given the right to self-determination. “The recognition of the right to selfdetermination of nations means the recognition of the right to secede.”
V.I. Lenin in his theses wrote: “The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation. The closer a democratic state system is to complete freedom to secede, the less frequent and less ardent will the desire for separation be in practice, xxx both from the standpoint of economic progress and from that of the interests of the masses xxx.”3
J.V. Stalin expounded on the above definition to include other forms of self-determination, as follows: “The right of self-determination means that a nation may arrange its life in the way it wishes. It has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy. It has the right to enter into federal relations with other nations. It has the right to complete secession. Nations are sovereign, and all nations have equal rights.4”
2 Additional reference: Keynote Address on Self-Determination and Liberation of Joanna K. Carino, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, to the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples Rights, Alternatives and Solutions to the Climate Crisis, 4-9 November 2010, Baguio City, Philippines. 3 V. I. Lenin, THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AND THE RIGHT OF NATIONS TO SELF-DETERMINATION, From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964, Vol. 22, pp. 143-56. ( 4 Marxism and the National Question (Vienna, January 1913)

J.M. Sison in the Philippine Revolution and the Nationality Question: “xxx the principle of selfdetermination is an inalienable right. The right is always there to be invoked and exercised whenever there is the need to struggle against oppression, to promote the legitimate interest of a community and to demand and undertake affirmative action.”
Most instruments – declarations, conventions, resolutions and the like are State enacted. As such, it sets limitations as to its content and enforcement. There are also many similar documents resulting from conferences, workshops and other gatherings usually organized by NGOs. Unfortunately, many remain as well written and articulate documents usually lacking a program of follow-up and action, one due to lack of resources.
The Algiers Declaration is one exceptional document written by peoples – of men and women involved in the liberation and of the anti-imperialist movement, from its proclamation in 1976 continue to be a living document. It remains to inspire and guide the continuing sessions of the PPT or the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (See discussion below).
We, the indigenous peoples may find inspiration in this Declaration and relive the Algiers Declaration in our own struggle for defense of ancestral lands and self-determination. It also serves best as our human rights framework in the said struggles.
A. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples (Algiers Declaration)
The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Peoples or The Algiers Declaration of 4 July 1976 (in reference to its place of proclamation) is a product of peoples struggling against imperialism and for a new world order. It is neither an academic document nor an intangible charter but is a tool for the liberation of peoples.
The Preamble states: “Convinced that the effective respect for human rights necessarily implies respect for the rights of the peoples, we have adopted the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Peoples.”
At its end, it movingly states, “May all those who, throughout the world, are fighting the great battle, at times through armed struggle, for the freedom of all peoples, find in this Declaration the assurance of the legitimacy of their struggle.” (Emphasis provided)
The Declaration is divided into the following seven (7) inter-related sections: Right to Existence, Right to Political Self-Determination, Economic Rights of Peoples, Right to Culture, Right to Environment and Common Resources, Rights of Minorities and Guarantees and Sanctions. Each section contains specific articles outlining relevant claims.
The Declaration has the following features:
a. It moves the center of gravity from the individual and the State towards the peoples. It is a document written by peoples – of men and women involved in the liberation struggles – not by States and their institutions;

b. It affirms the right of peoples to self-determination against foreign intervention at the same time as it states the right of peoples against their own State if it becomes corrupted or repressive. Thus, recognizes and affirms the legitimacy of armed revolutionary struggles;
The entire Section II is devoted to Right to Political Self-Determination. Article 5 on imprescriptible and unalienable right to self-determination; Article 6 to break free from any colonial or foreign domination and from any racist regime; Article 7 on democratic government representing all the citizens; and Article 28 on right to rebellion.
c. It challenges the idea of State governments enjoying a monopoly over law making and provides a framework for examining grievances, which established institutions have not or refuse to address; and
d. Recognizes and promotes the evolution of international law and principles. It is committed to the notion that individuals have the right and obligation to shape emerging law in accordance with human needs and human values;
e. Provide sanctions and guarantees for violation or breach of its provisions (Section VII).
The Declaration clearly states that a disregard of its provision means “a breach of obligations towards the international community as a whole” (Article 22); prejudices “must be totally compensated by whoever caused it” (Article 23); and enrichment and excessive profits “shall give rise to restitution” (Article 24). It provides further that the “gravest violations of the fundamental rights of the peoples, especially of their right to existence, constitute international crimes for which their perpetrators shall carry personal penal liberty.”
The Declaration while lacking enforcement capacity as it cannot compel States to change their policies that violate peoples’ rights – its enforcement would be in the peoples’ fight for liberation.
B. The Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT) – Addressing the ‘Crime of Silence’
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) 5 grew out of the basic realization that dominant law is anything but neutral. It is a tribunal of international opinion independent of State authorities. It examines and provides judgments on violations of human rights and the rights of peoples. The Tribunal was founded in Bologna, Italy on 24 June 1979. Its roots lie in the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal, which in 1967, exposed the war crimes committed against the Vietnamese people and the anti-imperialist movement, which produced the Algiers Declaration on the Rights of Peoples in 1976.
The Tribunal was born out of a historical movement of peoples’ xxx. Its aim is to break this ‘crime of silence’ and return to violated peoples their right to judge wrongs.
“Underlying the efforts of the PPT is a refusal to accept the power of law to apparently negate, through a judgment of denial, the suffering of peoples by naming violence as mere misfortune. It seeks to construct an alternative discourse of human wrongs, which locates the infliction of wrongs not simply as an ‘acute’ event of violence – with an identifiable deviant perpetrator and an identifiable subject victim – but as a ‘chronic’ condition of systematic, structural violation resulting in 5 communities of suffering.

By what authority does it exist? By the authority of peoples’ judgment, whose life experiences constitute the substance of the alternative judgments and legal articulations that it seeks to develop. Its legitimacy, sanctioned neither by international law-making institutions, nor by the State, stands independently as a source of ‘truth’ for communities in struggle. Thus its enforcement relies not upon the technical pronouncements of dominant legality, but rather, through the politics of social action and struggle.” 6
Since 1979, The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal has examined the cases of Western Sahara (1979), Argentina (1980), Eritrea (1980), The Philippines (1980), El Salvador (1981), Afghanistan (1981 and 1982), East Timor (1981), Zaire (1982), Guatemala (1983), Armenian Genocide (1984), the intervention of the United States in Nicaragua (1984), Puerto Rico (1989) and Tibet (1992). In addition, the Tribunal extended the subject of it concerns to deal with the question of external debt during the 1988 Berlin session on the IMF-WB, the Brazilian Amazon (1990), impunity in Latin American (1991), the conquest of America (1992), the environment and industrial hazards (1991 and 1992).
Recent sessions of the Tribunal have been concerned with the structural and transnational violence that corporate actors in the context of globalization increasingly perpetrate. Some of these are on industrial hazards (1994), the Chernobyl nuclear ‘accident’ (1996), the violations committed by the international garment industries (1998), and on the crimes committed by the French oil/energy corporation Elf-Aquitaine in collusion with the French state in the former territories of French colonial rule (1999).
The PPT also provides recognition and solidarity, xxx to reclaim their judgments of violation and to demand public hearing. In most of these cases, even if lacking enforcement ability, the victimized people in their quest for justice and social reforms have effectively utilized the PPT.
C. The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
On 13 September 2007, the UN GA adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, (UN GA Resolution 61/295).
According to Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues:
“This is the only Declaration in the UN, which was drafted with the rights-holders themselves, the Indigenous Peoples. We see this is as a strong Declaration which embodies the most important rights we and our ancestors have long fought for; our right of self-determination, our right to own and control our lands, territories and resources, our right to free, prior and informed consent, among others. Each and every article of this Declaration is a response to the cries and complaints brought by indigenous peoples before the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP). This is a Declaration which makes the opening phrase of the UN Charter, ‘We the Peoples…’ meaningful for the more than 370 million indigenous persons all over the world.”

Indigenous peoples and their advocates were involved in the process from the drafting of the Declaration starting in 1985-1993 in the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and in reviewing the draft in the Working Group on the Draft Declaration in 1995 (both under the Commission on Human Rights).
Indigenous peoples summarize the importance of the UNDRIP as follows7:
a. A comprehensive instrument, developed in collaboration by indigenous peoples, nation states, UN agencies, and NGOs over twenty years; b. Indigenous peoples actively shaped the Declaration, and contributed with their knowledge in a concrete and collective manner; c. Represents the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of indigenous peoples; and d. Adopted in broad consensus by 144 countries (only US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia voting against).
The UNDRIP states and recognizes the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, and other issues.
Its Preamble affirms the right to self-determination of all peoples:
“xxx Acknowledging that the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 2 as well as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, (3) affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development,
Bearing in mind that nothing in this Declaration may be used to deny any peoples their right to self-determination, exercised in conformity with international law, xxx”
Article 3, which replicates the language of the ICCPR and ICESR explicitly, states:
“Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
Article 4 modifies Article 3 as follows:
“Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.”

Others view that Article 4 limits in the same manner as Article 468 the exercise of selfdetermination. There is no explicit provision on the right to create an independent State. However, read with the UN Charter and other related instruments, it only sets an example of possible forms of self-determination that indigenous peoples might undertake.
A. The UN Charter
Articles 1 and 55 of the UN Charter further express self-determination:
Article 1: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”
“To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
Article 55: “With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational cooperation; and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”
The right to rebellion or revolution also finds support in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as follows:
“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.” [UN GA Resolution 217A at 135, UN Doc. A/810 (1948)]
The above provision concludes that the right to rebellion or revolution is now a recognized principle in international law; and its codification in various succeeding UN conventions, covenants and resolutions is understood that the right to rebellion or revolution is an internationally recognized right.
8 Article 46.1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States. 2. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society. xxx”

In the same manner, it placed the principles of human rights, equality and self-determination in international law with the ratification of the UN Charter in 1945. The preamble states:
“We the peoples of the United Nations determined… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”
“While the human rights provisions of the Charter of the United Nations should be read in conjunction with the International Bill of Human Rights, the Charter provisions themselves shed considerable light on the scope of human rights in connection with the system of promotion and protection established by the United Nations.”
1. “The promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an undertaking to for all. As a matter of principle, the Charter brings all human beings within the scope of human rights and later international instruments reinforced this notion, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ratione personae human rights are universal or all-inclusive. 2. The emphasis on equality or non-discrimination, the words without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion reflects this (Art. 1, para. 2). This notion of equality or nondiscrimination is closely connected with the concept of universality inasmuch as they mutually reinforce each other. The UN has drawn numerous instruments and devised a good number of supervisory mechanisms with a view to combating discrimination, with particular emphasis on discrimination in the field of race, religion, and sex. 3. The Charter placed human rights in a system of international cooperation. This implies that national borders put no limits to human rights but that by their nature human rights represent trans-boundary values. The notion of international cooperation implies also that human rights are a matter of legitimate international concern and that whenever and wherever human rights are in serious jeopardy, the international community is entitled to raise such issues. 4. Moreover, not least, international cooperation entails an obligation on the part of States to fulfill in good faith the undertakings they have assumed based on the Charter of the United Nations and other relevant international instruments.” 9 This makes the promotion, protection and recognition of human rights primarily a State obligation.
B. Human Rights and Peace10
“Among the purposes of the UN, outlined in Article 1 of the Charter, the promotion and encouragement of human rights and fundamental freedoms rank prominently together with the maintenance of international peace and security; the development of friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; and the achievement of international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character. It is against this background that human rights should be viewed in relation to peace and development.”

“The Human Rights Committee, established under the ICCPR, xxx drew attention to the close link between human rights, in particular the right to life, and the prevention of war. The Committee stated that “ …war and other acts of mass violence continue to be a scourge of humanity and take the lives of thousands of innocent human beings every year”. The Committee further observed: “Every effort they (i.e., the States Parties) make to avert the danger of war, especially thermonuclear war, and to strengthen international peace and security would constitute the most important condition and guarantee for the safeguarding of the right to life”. [General comment 6(16)]
“xxx Peace is an essential pre-condition for the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Whenever peaceful relations between human beings, groups of persons, peoples and nations are threatened, human rights tend to be jeopardized. Wars and armed conflicts cause per se flagrant and passive violations of human rights. On the other hand, under certain circumstances involving persistent patterns of gross violations of human rights, action in favour of human rights may in itself result in disturbing peaceful relations.”
“Many liberation struggles are human rights struggles and by implication this notion is well reflected in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.”
Therefore, no peace can be sustained without justice and without respect for human rights.”
C. Human Rights and Development
Article 55 of the Charter of the UN spells out areas of international economic and social cooperation, which, based on Article 56 of the Charter, require joint and separate action by the Organization and its members. Among these areas of international cooperation is the promotion of:
a. Higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; b. Solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems, and international cultural and educational co-operation; and c. Universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
Over the years, the UN membership has sought to relate human rights to major global issues, in efforts to find solutions for human rights concerns affecting the millions of deprived, dispossessed, discriminated against, and marginalized. The Proclamation of Teheran (1968) and many subsequent documents, reflect this structural approach. This approach proposes to:
a. Link human rights to major world-wide patterns and issues; b. Identify the root causes of human rights violations; c. Assess human rights in the light of concrete contexts and situations; and d. Recognize the diversity of political and social systems, cultural and religious pluriformity, and different levels of development.

The Declaration on the Right to Development reiterates the same. This declaration places due emphasis on the central position of the human person in the development process and makes an important contribution to the conceptual link between human rights and development. At the same time, it can serve as a guide to national and international development policies.
In this connection, the World Conference on Human Rights stated in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of action that, while development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights, the lack of development may not be invoked to justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights.
The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action reiterates that human rights is primarily the responsibility of the State, the interdependence between democracy, development, and human rights, including the right to self-determination; and emphasizes that the denial of the right of selfdetermination is a violation of human rights and underlines the importance of the effective realization of this right.
Another, the Helsinki Final Agreement of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1975 provides:
Part VII. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.
The participating States on whose territory national minorities exist will respect the right of persons belonging to such minorities to equality before the law, will afford them the full opportunity for the actual enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms and will, in this manner, protect their legitimate interests in this sphere.
Part VIII. Equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development.
D. UN Human Rights Instruments
The UN Charter, however, does not define what human rights are. The International Bill of Human Rights provides the definition and interpretation of the human rights clauses of the UN Charter. The following are its five constituent parts:
a. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR);
b. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations pursuant to Resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966. It entered into force on 3 January 1976, in accordance with Article 27. As of 30 September 1996, 135 States have ratified, or acceded to, the Covenant;

“It describes the basic economic, social, and cultural rights of individuals and nations, including the right to: self-determination, wages sufficient to support a minimum standard of living, equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity for advancement, form trade unions, strike, paid or otherwise compensated maternity leave, free primary education, and accessible education at all levels, copyright, patent, and trademark protection for intellectual property.
In addition, this convention forbids exploitation of children, and requires all nations to cooperate to end world hunger. Each nation, which has ratified this covenant, is required to submit annual reports on its progress in providing for these rights to the Secretary General, who is to transmit them to the Economic and Social Council.”11
c. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations with resolution 2200 A (XXI) of 16 December 1966. It entered into force on 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49. As of 30 September 1996, 135 States had ratified, acceded to or declared to succeed to, the Covenant, and the two Optional Protocols thereto;
Among the rights of nations are: the right to self-determination and the right to own, trade, and dispose of their property freely, and not be deprived of their means of subsistence.
Among the rights of individuals are: right to legal recourse when their rights have been violated, even if the violator was acting in an official capacity, right to life, right to liberty and freedom of movement, right to equality before the law, the right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the right to appeal a conviction, the right to be recognized as a person before the law, the right to privacy and protection of that privacy by law, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of assembly and association. 12
The covenant permits governments to suspend some of these rights in cases of civil emergency only, and lists those rights, which they cannot suspend for any reason. It also establishes the UN Human Rights Commission.
d. Providing for the right of individual petition (1966), and
The protocol adds legal force to the ICCPR by allowing the Human Rights Commission to investigate and judge complaints of human rights violations from individuals from signatory countries.
e. Aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (1989).
E. UN Human Rights Treaties
In addition to the UDHR, there are seven major international human rights treaties including the ICESCR and ICCPR, mentioned above, and the following five conventions:
11 12 (

1. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations with resolution 2106A(XX) of 21 December 1965. It entered into force on 4 January 1969 in accordance with Article 19. As of 30 September 1996, 148 States had ratified or acceded to, the Convention.
Article 1 of the Convention defines ‘racial discrimination’ as
“xxx any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”
“Part 1 (Articles 1–7) commits parties to the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and to promoting understanding among all races (Article 2). Parties are obliged to not discriminate on the basis of race, not to sponsor or defend racism, and to prohibit racial discrimination within their jurisdictions. They must also review their laws and policies to ensure that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, and commit to amending or repealing those that do.
The Convention imposes a specific commitment on parties to eradicate racial segregation and the crime of apartheid within their jurisdictions (Article 3); required to criminalize the incitement of racial hatred (Article 4), to ensure judicial remedies for acts of racial discrimination (Article 6), and to engage in public education to promote understanding and tolerance (Article 7).
Part 2 (Articles 8 – 16) governs reporting and monitoring of the Convention and the steps taken by the parties to implement it. It establishes the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and empowers it to make general recommendations to the UN General Assembly. It also establishes a dispute resolution mechanism between parties (Articles 11 – 13), and allows parties to recognise the competence of the Committee to hear complaints from individuals about violations of the rights protected by the Convention (Article 14).
Part 3 (Articles 17 – 25) governs ratification, entry into force, and amendment of the Convention.”13
2. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations with resolution 34 / 180 of 18 December 1979. It entered into force on 3 September 1981, in accordance with Article 27(1). As of 30 September 1996, 154 States had ratified or acceded to, the Convention.
“The Treaty for the Rights of Women is often described as an international “Bill of Rights” for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.
Article 1: Defines discrimination against women as any “distinction, exclusion, or restriction made on the basis of sex, which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise by women, 13

irrespective of marital status, on the basis of equality between men and women, of human rights or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil, or any other field.”
The Treaty requires regular progress reports from ratifying countries but it does not impose any changes in existing laws or require new laws of countries ratifying the treaty. It lays out models for achieving equality but contains no enforcement authority.
Despite language “mandating” various changes, the Treaty grants no enforcement authority to the United Nations or any other body. It requires only a periodic report and review process. Countries also can express “reservations, understandings, and declarations” where domestic laws diverge from the Treaty.”14
3. Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations pursuant to resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984. The Convention entered into force on 27 June 1987, upon 20 States ratifying it or acceding to it, in accordance with the requirements of Article 27(1). As of 30 September 1996, 99 States had become party to the Convention.
“This convention bans torture under all circumstances and establishes the UN Committee against Torture. In particular, it defines torture, requires states to take effective legal and other measures to prevent torture, declares that no state of emergency, other external threats, nor orders from a superior officer or authority may be invoked to justify torture. It forbids countries to return a refugee to his country if there is reason to believe he/she will be tortured, and requires host countries to consider the human rights record of the person’s native country in making this decision. It forbids states to admit into evidence during a trial any confession or statement made during or as a result of torture. It also forbids activities which do not rise to the level of torture, but which constitute cruel or degrading treatment.”15
4. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations with Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989. It entered into force on 2 September 1990 in accordance with Article 49. As of 30 September 1996, 187 States had ratified or acceded to, the Convention.
It states that children are born with fundamental freedoms and the inherent rights of all human beings. Articles 1-41 of the Convention set out the rights of children and the corresponding obligations of governments to safeguard these rights. It covers the following:
 “Definition of children as all persons less than 18 years of age, unless the legal age of majority in a country is lower.  General principles, including the right to life, survival and development, the right to nondiscrimination, respect for the views of children and to consider a child’s best interests, and the requirement to consider the child’s best interests in all matters affecting them.
14 15

 Civil rights and freedoms, including the right to a name and nationality, freedom of expression, thought and association, access to information and the right not to be subjected to torture.  Family environment and alternative care, including the right to live with and have contact with both parents, to be reunited with parents if separated from them and to the provision of appropriate alternative care where necessary.  Basic health and welfare, including the rights of disabled children, the right to health and health care, social security, child care services and an adequate standard of living.  Education, leisure and cultural activities, including the right to education and the rights to play, leisure and participation in cultural life and the arts.  Special protection measures covering the rights of refugee children, those affected by armed conflicts, children in the juvenile justice system, children deprived of their liberty and children suffering economic, sexual or other forms of exploitation.”16
5. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICRMW) adopted by the General Assembly resolution 45 /158 of 18 December 1990 and entered into force only in 2003.
The UN Convention on Migrant Workers’ Rights is the most comprehensive international treaty in the field of migration and human rights. It sets a standard in terms of access to human rights for migrants and their families. However, it suffers from a marked indifference: only forty states have ratified it and no major immigration country has done so.
“The primary objective of the Convention is to foster respect for migrants’ human rights. Migrants are not only workers they are also human beings. The Convention aims at guaranteeing equality of treatment, and the same working conditions for migrants and nationals; all migrants should have access to a minimum degree of protection. It stresses that undocumented migrants must see their fundamental human rights respected, like all human beings.”17
In the meantime, the Convention proposes that actions be taken to eradicate clandestine movements, notably through the fight against misleading information inciting people to migrate irregularly, and through sanctions against traffickers and employers of undocumented migrants.
The conventions vary in status, as not all countries ratify the said conventions. Only the ICCPR, ICERD, CEDAW and CAT have complaint procedures.
F. UN General Assembly Resolutions (Self-Determination and Liberation)
Through various UN GA resolutions, the UN has expounded on the principle of self-determination.
In Resolution 637A (VII) of Dec. 16, 1952, the General Assembly declared “the right of peoples and nations to self-determination is a prerequisite to the full enjoyment of all fundamental human rights.” The General Assembly recommended, inter alia that “the Members States of the United Nations shall uphold the principle of self-determination of all peoples and nations.”
16 17 s

In 1960, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 1514(XV) entitled “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. This declared that:
1. The subjugation of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation. 2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. xxx 4. All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected. xxx
The above Declaration regards the principle of self-determination as part of the obligations of colonial powers stemming from the Charter; it is not a “recommendation,” but is in the form of an authoritative interpretation of the Charter. It also establishes the right to self-determination of all peoples.
Later on, it incorporated the principle in a number of international instruments. The two international human rights covenants, the ICCPR and the ICESCR, which came into force in 1976 and constitute legally binding human rights treaties based on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights expressively acknowledged this.
The common Article 1 of the ICCPR and ICESCR provide for the right of self-determination.
All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. (Emphasis provided)
Consequently, the ‘Declaration of Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among the States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations’ [UN GA Resolution 2625 (XXV), 1970] which, codified seven principles among which is on ‘equal rights and self-determination of peoples.’ This confirmed the principle that selfdetermination is a right belonging to all peoples and that the UN Charter requires its implementation, and further establishing the legally binding nature of the right to self-determination. It provided among others:
“By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter. xxx
(b) To bring a speedy end to colonialism, having due regard to the freely expressed will of the peoples concerned; and

Bearing in mind that subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a violation of the principle, as well as a denial of fundamental human rights, and is contrary to the Charter.
Every State has the duty to promote through joint and separate action universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Charter. The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people.
Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action, which deprives peoples referred to above in the elaboration of the present principle of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence. In their actions against, and resistance to, such forcible action in pursuit of the exercise of their right to self-determination, such peoples are entitled to seek and to receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.”
Together with the Declaration Concerning the Implementation of the Right to SelfDetermination (UN GA Res 1541, 1960), provided three different forms of self-determination:
a. The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, b. The free association or integration with an independent State, or c. The emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people. (Emphasis provided)
Take note of the third option – “any other political status” – this expands the right to selfdetermination to include autonomy arrangements, federation, confederation and the like, provided it is freely determined by the people.
Among the various UN resolutions, the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations is of great importance as it contributed greatly to the legal status of self-determination i.e. it established self-determination as a legal right in international law.
“This Declaration was important not only because of its most positive contribution to the debate on the status of self-determination but also because of its reference to the use of force regarding selfdetermination and the legality thereof. xxx wars of national liberation – wars of those seeking self- determination – had been regarded, and dealt with almost exclusively, as conflicts of a noninternational nature, falling within the remit of municipal law and Common Article 318 only.
Therefore, both the use of force by liberation movements to gain self-determination and by ‘parent’ governments to quell such armed activity was not subject to the prohibition of the use of force in international law. However, once self-determination was recognized as an international legal right, then the issue of the use of force in wars of national liberation was also altered. Firstly, wars of
18 Common Article 3, so-called because it is common to all four of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. See for full text of the article

national liberation could no longer be viewed as domestic conflicts.”19
The said Declaration, Olalia20 notes resolves several intricate and controversial problems posed in cases of national liberation movements, to wit:
“(a) It clearly states that the ‘forcible action’ or force, which is prohibited by Article 2, paragraph 4 of the [UN] Charter is not that used by peoples struggling for self-determination but that which is resorted to by the colonial or alien governments to deny them self-determination.
(b) Conversely, by armed resistance to forcible denial of self-determination – by imposing or maintaining by force colonial or alien domination – is legitimate under the Charter, according to the Declaration.
(c) The right of liberation movements representing peoples struggling for self-determination to seek and receive support and assistance necessarily implies that they have a locus standi (legal standing) in international law and relations.
(d) This right necessarily implies also that third States can treat with liberation movements, assist and even recognize them without this being considered a premature recognition or constituting an intervention in the domestic affairs of the colonial or alien government.”
He opined further, “The right to self-determination gave rise to a corresponding duty of other States to respect it. And States, which use forcible means to deny a people of this right, may be legally resisted by armed force as well. Hence, the legal basis of the politico-military means of ascertaining this right to self-determination. The process of this armed assertion is a war of national liberation; the politico-military group which represents a struggling people in that process is a national liberation movement.”21
The UN reiterates the same in UN GA Resolution 2649 of November 30, 1970:
1. Affirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial and alien domination recognized as being entitled to the right of selfdetermination to restore to themselves that right by any means at their disposal; xxx
Thereafter, the UN General Assembly in its Resolution on the “Importance of the Universal Realization of the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and of the Speedy Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples for the Effective Guarantee and Observance of Human Rights” (A/RES/37/43, 3 December 1982) clearly provides:
19 Noelle Higgins, The Application of International Humanitarian Law to Wars of National Liberation, Journal of Humanitarian Assistance. ( posted April 2004) 20 Edre U. Olalia, Vice President, International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL). Abridged version of an 80-page “Legal Opinion on the Status of National Liberation Movements and Their Use of Armed Force in International Law” originally submitted on November 17, 2002 upon request to Messrs. Jan Fermon, Hans Langenberg, and Dundar Gurses, Esqs. It was included as part of the Appendix to the Application for the Removal in the EU “Terrorist List” and for damages filed by Prof. Jose Ma. Sison in the European Court of Justice (First Instance) in Luxembourg on February 6, 2003. This version was presented to the annual Board Meeting of the IAPL in Antwerp, Belgium on November 26-28, 2004. 21 Ibid

1. Calls upon all States to implement fully and faithfully the resolutions of the United Nations regarding the exercise of the right to self-determination and independence by peoples under colonial and foreign domination;

2. Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle;

3. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the Namibian people, the Palestinian people and all peoples under foreign and colonial domination to selfdetermination, national independence, territorial integrity, national unity and sovereignty without outside interference; xxx
18. Strongly condemns those Governments that do not recognize the right to self-determination and independence of all peoples still under colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably the peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people;
24. Demands the immediate and unconditional release of all persons detained or imprisoned as a result of their struggle for self-determination and independence, full respect for their fundamental individual rights and the observance of article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, under which no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; xxx
28. Urges all States, specialized agencies and competent organizations of the United Nations system to do their utmost to ensure the full implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and to intensify their efforts to support peoples under colonial, foreign and racist domination in their just struggle for self-determination and independence;
G. Other International Instruments22
In fact, each year thereafter, the General Assembly had passed a resolution of identical title affirming the right to self-determination. In Resolution 2787 (XXVI) of December 6, 1971, the General Assembly ‘confirmed the legality of the people’s struggle for self-determination,’ as follows:
“1. Confirms the legality of the people’s struggle for self-determination and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation… by all available means consistent with the Charter of the United Nations,
2. Affirms man’s basic human right to fight for the self-determination of his people under colonial and foreign domination. 22 Edre U. Olalia

Here, the GA even identified and recognized the legal characterization of armed conflicts as wars of national liberation including those in Southern Africa, the peoples of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and the Palestinian people.
In fact, several liberation movements have been granted observer status in various organs of the United Nations and regional organizations. Many States have even recognized liberation movements, allowed them to establish official representation in their territory and provided and still provide them with moral and material assistance.
In Resolution 3070 (XXVIII) of 30 November 1973, the General Assembly categorically affirmed the right to pursue self-determination ‘by all means, including armed struggle.’
In the same vein, General Assembly Resolution 3103 (XXVIII) on the Basic Principles of the Legal Status of the Combatants struggling against Colonial and Alien domination and Racist Regimes (December 12, 1973) stated in its preamble that “the continuation of colonialism in all its forms and manifestations xxx is a crime and that all colonial people have the inherent right to struggle by all necessary means at their disposal against colonial powers and alien dominations in the exercise of their right to self-determination xxx. “
Thereafter, General Assembly Resolution 32/147 on measures to prevent international terrorism of 6 December 1977 again:
3. Reaffirms the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes and other forms of alien domination, and upholds the legitimacy of their struggle, in particular the struggle of national liberation movements, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter and the relevant resolutions of the organs of the United Nations.
4. Condemns the continuation of repressive and terrorist acts by colonial, racist and alien regimes in denying peoples their legitimate right to self- determination and independence and other human rights and fundamental freedom; xxxx
In addition, in Resolution 40/61 adopted on December 9, 1985 by the 108th Plenary Meeting, the General Assembly adopted a Resolution on Measures to Prevent International Terrorism, to wit:
“Reaffirming also the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes and other forms of alien domination, and Upholding the legitimacy of their struggle, in particular the struggle of national liberation movements, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter and of the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”
In Economic and Social Council Resolution 1986/43, on the Use of Mercenaries as a Means to Violate Human Rights and to Impede the Exercise of the Right of Peoples to SelfDetermination, the following is again stated:

“Reaffirming the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples and their liberation movements for their independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid, foreign intervention and occupation, xxx”
Various international courts have enriched the abovementioned resolutions, conventions and covenants as applied to certain cases brought to their jurisdiction. Commentaries made by committees of UN treaty-based human rights bodies of independent experts elected by governments produce the same effect.
A. Native Title Doctrine – Demystifying ‘Terra Nullius’ and ‘Jura Regalia’
1. Carino v. Insular Government23 (Mateo Carino v. Insular Government of the Philippine Islands, 212 US 449, 1909)
The Carino Native Title Doctrine simply states that the indigenous peoples of the Philippines have pre-conquest vested prior rights over lands. Ownership based on occupation and use since time immemorial; acquisition according to culture and tradition and recognition.
“The acquisition of the Philippines was not for acquiring lands by the inhabitants. xxx one who actually owned land many years cannot be deprived of it for failure to comply with certain ceremonies prescribed either by the acts of the Philippine Commission or by Spanish Law.
Every presumption of ownership is in favor of one occupying actually land for many years, and against the government, which seeks to deprive him of it, for failure to comply with provisions of a subsequently enacted registration act.”
The decision penned by Justice Holmes clearly stated:
“It may rightly be assumed therefore, that although Spanish property laws embodied the theory that all lands were held by the Crown, it did not assume to convert all the native inhabitants of the Philippines to trespassers, as in these decrees, the natives were recognized as owning some land irrespective of any royal grant.” (Emphasis provided)
This has been the similar opinion of Justice Kapunan in the decision on the constitutionality of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA).
“xxx then the lands which Spain acquired in the 16th century were limited to non-private lands, because it could only acquire lands which were not yet privately-owned or occupied by the Filipinos. Hence, Spain acquired title only over lands, which were unoccupied and unclaimed, i.e. public lands.” (Kapunan Opinion, note 86)
23 Baguio Tenurial Land Instruments, paper presented by Beverly L. Longid during the Baguio Land Situation: Problems, Positions and Alternatives (Baguio Land Conference) held on August 28-29, 2008, Baguio City co-sponsored by the CPA and the UP-CSC.

Thus, land and resources that never fell under the Spanish Cross or Sword were never part of the archipelago that Spain ceded to the US in 1899. The legal presupposition of public lands does not encompass ancestral lands because they never were.
2. Mabo Ruling (Aborigines of Australia) [Mabo v Queensland (No. 2), 1992, 175 CLR 1]
“Eddie Mabo was an indigenous inhabitant of the Murray (Mer) Islands in the Torres Strait. He led a group of the Meriam people in a Supreme Court challenge against the Queensland government on the issue of land ownership. Their case stated:
‘Since time immemorial the Torres Strait Islands of the Mer (known as Murray), Danar and Waier and their surrounding seas, seabeds, fringing reefs and adjacent islets have been continuously inhabited by people called the Meriam people.’
On 3 June 1992 six of the seven High Court Judges ruled;
‘The Meriam people are entitled as against the whole world, to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands’
The Mabo Ruling declared that terra nullius had never legally existed and Australia had wrongfully applied it to Australia. Australian land law has developed from English land law and it was under those principles that Australia was settled. At common law, the Crown owns all land, which then deals with that land as it sees fit.
It was the judgment of the Court that in a true case of terra nullius then exclusive ownership of acquired land is matter of fact, however in an area where there are indigenous owners, common law also recognize their rights to ownership. These indigenous rights are known as ‘native title’. This essentially means that when the English took possession of Australian land, they may have had ‘ultimate title’ and the political power, but they never had absolute ownership of the land. The establishment of the New South Wales Colony never officially overturned the Native title.
The ruling has proven terra nullius as fiction and common law recognizes and protects both ‘ultimate title’ and ‘native title.’ The claim of the Meriam people and the facts of their case to ownership of the Murray Islands, therefore, have proven justified. The Meriam people could prove a long and continuous tradition of living on that land, and native title had never been extinguished (overturned) on their land.24”
3. The Treaty of Waitangi (Maori, Aotearoa)
The decisions by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and other international courts further exemplified the principle of self-determination. For example, in the South-West Africa Cases25 (Dec. 26, 1961, and July 18, 1966), Judge Nervo, dissenting, expressed the belief that the concept of equality and freedom “will inspire the vision and the conduct of peoples the world over until the goal of self-determination and independence is reached.”

24 25 International Court of Justice, Reports, 1966, v. IV, p. 465.

The Advisory Opinion of the International Court relating to the Western Sahara Case26 (Oct. 16, 1975) reconfirmed as well “the validity of the principle of self-determination” in the context of international law. “The Court’s conclusion is that the materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity. Thus, the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the application of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and, in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.”27
In the decision of June 30, 1995, concerning the East Timor Case (Portugal v. Australia), “in the Court’s view, xxx the right of peoples to self-determination, as it evolved from the Charter and from United Nations practice, has an erga omnes28 character, is irreproachable. The principle of selfdetermination of peoples has been recognized by the United Nations Charter and in the jurisprudence of the Court; it is one of the essential principles of contemporary international law.” 29
However, the Court refused to rule on the status of East Timor under international law because Indonesia (a third party to the case) refused consent to its jurisdiction. Although Judge Weeramantry in his dissenting opinion concluded, that East Timor is “a territory unquestionably entitled to self-determination.”
In its Advisory Opinion on the ‘Construction of a Wall’ case, the Court ruled on the legality of the act and its legal consequences. On the first, “it considers that the construction of the wall and its associated régime “create a ‘fait accompli’ on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case, … would be tantamount to de facto annexation”. It finds that the “construction, along with measures taken previously, … severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination, and is therefore a breach of Israel’s obligation to respect that right”.
On the second, the Court finds that Israel must respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and its obligations under humanitarian law and human rights law. xxx put an end to the violation of its international obligations xxx.” It further provided, “all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation xxx and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation. xxx and to see to it that any impediment, xxx in the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination is brought to an end.”30
26 ICJ Reports (1975) 12 at 31-33. See also the Namibia Opinion, ibid. (1971), 16 at 31; Geog K. v. Ministry of Interior, ILR 71, at 284; and the Case Concerning East Timor, ICJ Reports (1995) at 102. 27 28 Erga omnes means in relation to all. The term is used to describe legal obligations and rights towards all. 29

Fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership, defeat neoliberal trade of monopolies

Published: 22 January 2016

ILPS statement on the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, ILPS International Coordinating Committee

After half a decade of negotiations, parties to the US-conceived Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are set to sign the egregious trade deal on February 4 this year. The TPP is an international ‘free trade’ agreement (FTA) that onesidedly and excessively favors the imperialist countries and their monopoly firms at the expense of the people, especially in the underdeveloped and dependent countries countries. The people’s rights are prejudiced by the TPP imposing stricter rules on intellectual property rights, new standards on state-owned enterprises, government procurement, and provisions on investment protection.

The TPP encompasses 12 countries representing 40% of the global GDP or 25.5% of the world’s total trade volume. It is touted as the largest trade agreement in history binding the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries (New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) into a 21st century trade pact.

The secretly negotiated 6,000-page treaty released by WikiLeaks last October 2015 reveals treacherous terms and standards designed to further strengthen monopoly capitalist control over the global economy and the world’s resources. Beyond being just a trade deal, the TPP also plays a key role in advancing the geopolitical interests of US imperialism to maintain its hold in the Asia Pacific and contain the rising power of China in the region and beyond.

Indeed, in his final State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve the mega-trade deal because, “with TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do.” As part of the US pivot to Asia, the TPP serves as the economic counterpart to the heightened military force projection by the US throughout Asia Pacific.

The TPP was born out of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) side meetings back in 2005 with Chile, Singapore, Brunei and New Zealand as its original members. In 2008 however, the US took hold of the negotiations and worked towards expanding the TPP membership to its current roster of member countries.

In 2014, the APEC Business Advisory Council proposed the concept of a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) – a mega-regional trade deal that aims to implement World Trade Organization (WTO) standards as well as solve the complex and often overlapping trade rules caused by multiple FTAs and bilateral agreements between and among countries.

However, the FTAAPfailed to gain traction due to major disagreements between China and the US on certain rules and provisions. In order to move forward, the APEC 2010 summit released an official communiquéannouncing to pursue the FTAAP by building on existing regional trade negotiations such as the TPP and its competitor, the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The opportunity to set regional standards on trade and investment, the chance to control almost half of global trade and the massive profits that can be tapped from a mega-region that shares more than half of the global GDP provided rabid motivation for the US and its allies to pursue the TPP. In one of her speeches during an APEC forum in Washington in 2011, Hilary Clinton suggested that the TPP membership must “…grow to include all APEC economies and that the TPPA will provide a foundation for an eventual FTAAP.”

During last year’s APEC summit in Manila, an official statement by the Chilean government announced the signing of the controversial trade deal on February 4 together with New Zealand’s proposal to host the said meeting. Some weeks after negotiating countries reached an agreement on the TPP, several countries in the region immediately announced their intent to join the trade negotiations. South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand have all previously expressed their desire to be part of the TPP.

Following a previous announcement that the country will not join the TPP, Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III also made a turnaround when he declared weeks ahead of the APEC summit in Manila that the country is once again keen to join the trade deal. After being initially silent about the TPP, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia also announced intent to join the TPP adding to the growing list of would-be TPP members.

Like many FTAs, the TPP was negotiated behind closed doors – only corporate advisors and lobbyists were given exclusive access to the text. In fact, TPP member states agreed in 2010 to prohibit any form of public release of the negotiating text until four years after an actual agreement has been made and/or abandoned. The secretive nature of the TPP and other trade deals in the offing attest to its anti-people character – as governments learned that the only way to complete such a deal is to avoid resistance by keeping it hidden from the very people who would have to live with its damaging consequences.

The TPP includes an insidious clause on investment disputes that allow corporations and big businesses to sue entire countries through a corporate tribunal known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The ISDS allows corporations and foreign investors to file legal complaints against entire governments over actions perceived as inimical to profit-making and detrimental to future profits such as raising the minimum wage or increasing the quality of basic social services.

Under TPP conditions, signatory countries would also be obliged to reshape their domestic policies, laws and regulations in accordance with the agreement effectively dismantling any constitutional protection afforded by national laws in order to give way to greater corporate control.

Under the guise of ‘regulatory cooperation,’ enormous pressure is coming from big US corporations that want to ‘level the playing field’ between the private corporations and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) citing the unfair advantage and state subsidy given to the latter.

One of the most dangerous and controversial elements of the TPP is the section on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that contain far-reaching implications across sectors and communities. For peasants and small food producers, this would entail restrictions in the use of seeds that have patented materials.

IPR rules also extend medicine patent rights for up to 25 years thereby enabling big pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the drug market and keep charging high prices without the competition of generic brands. Lastly, the TPP provision on data privacy severely limits internet freedom by compelling internet service providers to spy on user activity, and cut user access to common-generated content such as Youtube among others.

Mega-regional trade deals such as the TPP serve the current thrusts of imperialist globalization, namely: dismantle remaining labour protections and other measures for the protection of social welfare and the environment; privatize and commercialize sectors of the economy still under public or common ownership; deepen the compradorization and denationalization of third world economies; secure greater protections for monopoly capitalist property and profits. They serve to consolidate monopoly capitalist control by cementing corporate power and rewriting legal protections afforded by country constitutions.

These agreements will further channel the world’s wealth and resources to the hands of the 1% that control the biggest corporations and thus furtherbenefit from greater trade activity and stricter IPR protection as well as investment liberalization schemes.Therefore as the imperialists and their allies gather in the New Zealand’s capital for the signing of the TPPA on 4 February 2016, the ILPS calls on all its members and allied organizations:

  1. To conduct research and mass education on the implications and consequences of the TPP and other imperialist trade deals in different countries and carry out mass education on the people’s alternative to the existing monopoly capitalist system including an alternative framework for international economic cooperation based on solidarity, mutual benefit and respect for people’s sovereignty, and
  2. To intensify people’s protest actions against the TPP, FTAs, and imperialist globalization and mobilize the masses and their organizations, as well as students, academics, professionals, local entrepreneurs, national industrialists, parliamentarians and other affected sectors in underdeveloped and dependent countries against government efforts to ratify or join the TPP, and any attempt to adopt implementing legislation in support of the TPP and similar trade agreements.

Fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership!
Fight the US-instigated Free Trade Agreements under the neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization!
Uphold the sovereign right of underdeveloped and dependent countries to develop and free themselves from monopoly capitalism!

– See more at:

CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS: Petition to Malaysian authorities to stop judicial harassment against Jannie Lasimbang and other activists

Please find the petition below to Malaysian authorities to stop judicial harassment and intimidation against Jannie Lasimbang, former Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). We need your support and solidarity to fight against this selective prosecution against her and other activists aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities.

Please read the attached endorsement for more information and send in your endorsement (name of your organization and country) for the petition to our colleagues; Prabindra Shakya ( and Hpuji Naung (

We look forward to receiving as many endorsements as possible. Kindly share this petition in your network as well.

Thank you very much for your support and cooperation.


24 January 2016
Honorable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Prime Minister, Government of Malaysia
Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya

Subject: Petition to stop judicial harassment against Jannie Lasimbang

Honorable Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the ongoing judicial harassment and intimidation against Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, a prominent human rights and indigenous rights leader, and call
on the Malaysian Government authorities to immediately drop all charges laid against her. We affirm that the targeted prosecution of Ms. Lasimbang, among other rights activists, is indicative of the closing space for civil society in Malaysia. We urge the Government to put an end to such prosecution and uphold the values of democracy and human rights.

Ms. Lasimbang is one of the former vice-chairpersons of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), which is a campaign endorsed by over 60 Malaysian NGOs seeking electoral reforms and promotion of democratic rights in Malaysia. She is the first person to be charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) for her role in organizing the fourth series of peaceful assemblies of (Bersih 4.0). The assemblies were held in major cities in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, on 29 and 30 August 2015. There were subsequent assemblies in over 70 cities around the world in support of the main assemblies in Malaysia.

The overnight rally in Kota Kinabalu had more than 3,000 people in attendance but ended two hours shy of its 24-hour target after a police barricade stopped some 1,000 participants of the assembly from walking towards the city. The police had questioned Ms. Lasimbang immediately after the Bersih 4.0 assembly ended, along with along with others for their alleged role in organizing the assembly. She was not arrested; it therefore came as surprise to her to be charged
nearly two months later.

Ms. Lasimbang was charged on 21 October 2015 at the Kota Kinabalu Magistrate Court under Section 9(5) of the PAA 2012 for allegedly organizing the Bersih 4.0 assembly at Likas Bay Park without giving a 10-day notice to the city police chief prior to the event, as required under Article 10(c) of the PAA 2012. T Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah, the Chairperson of Bersih 2.0 was also later also charged under the same section.

We are informed that although Bersih Sabah had submitted the form required for the 10-day notice, the failure to append a consent letter from the owner of the Likas Bay Park (City Hall) was construed as not giving the 10-day notice.

The Kota Kinabalu Magistrate allowed Ms. Lasimbang bail of RM3,000 (approx. USD 697) with a deposit of RM1,000 (USD 232) for the charge and set the court date for 13 November 2015 for case management and 23 and 24 November 2015 to hear the case. The case management has since been rescheduled to 20 January, and the hearing to 26 and 27 January 2016. We are gravely concerned that if convicted, Ms. Lasimbang faces a maximum fine of RM20,000 (USD 4646) for two counts of the same charge, one for each day of the 2-day event. She has pleaded not guilty.

Ms Lasimbang, a former commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has also served as a member and chairperson of the UN Expert Mechanism on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), established by the Human Rights Council under the United Nations. Former Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, she is currently at the forefront of indigenous rights advocacy in Malaysia as the Secretary General of the
Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia, also known as Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS).

We affirm that the selective prosecution of Ms. Lasimbang and other activists in Malaysia constitutes violations of national and international human rights obligations of the State, including under UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Declaration provides that for
the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully (Art. 5(a)). It is the duty of State of Malaysia to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone…against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” (Art. 12).

We believe the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Lasimbang and others only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities. Thus, we call on the Malaysian authorities to immediately drop all charges against them and rather engage constructively with the human
rights activists for advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Malaysia.


Joan Carling
Secretary General
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

On behalf of the organizations listed in the below or annexed
Submitted via email to Hon’ble Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Government of Malaysia, Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal
Government Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Copied to
l Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia.

l Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
(SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara TH Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. Email:;

Statement of Solidarity to the victims of Brazil’s Mining Disaster

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) stands in solidarity with the victims of the Bento Rodrigues iron ore tailings dam[i]that burst last 05 November 2015 in Brazil. The failure of the said dam released a large volume of toxic sludge that swallowed entire communities and poisoned the Doce River in the region of Minas Gerais; and has reached the Atlantic Ocean causing further damage.

Twelve people died, at least 11 are still missing and left more than 500 homeless since the sludge devastated nearby towns. The unprecedented scale of environmental and social damages caused by the mining tragedy compounded by years of severe drought has deprived local communities of the free-flowing waters of Rio Doce – a source of food and livelihood, and making agriculture and livestock impossible to sustain – all of which are conditions necessary for their survival.

As the casualties and destruction mount, we believe that the actions taken by the Brazilian government and the corporations responsible for the disaster – Vale, BHP Bilton, and SamarcoMineração S.A. are grossly insufficient and tantamount to criminal neglect. We further believe that they failed to prevent an otherwise avoidable calamity, including the lethal exposure of communities especially that of Indigenous Peoples, women and children to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals.  Thus, they should be fully accountable for the deaths, damages and destruction from this disaster.

An earlier statement by SamarcoMineração S.A. said that the materials present in the tailings contained only mud and sand and “does not present a danger to human health.” However, based on sample spots taken from the area, the 50 million-ton avalanche of toxic mud unleashed high levels of arsenic, manganese and other toxic metals a thousand times more than acceptable levels. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement said that the residue “contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals”.

We call the government of Brazil, and BHP Billiton, Vale and Samarco companies, in the interim, should at least secure adequate supplies of water and food, evacuation centers, means of redress and rehabilitation for all victims of this tragedy of their creation. They should also address the needs and respect the rights of the affected including Indigenous Peoples.

We support the actions of the Krenak Indigenous Peoples to stop and prevent the transfer of iron ore from the mines in protest of the disaster that contaminated their waters and demand for the government and the companies to address substantially the issues of the disaster.

We stand with our brothers and sisters in demanding for the immediate stop and pullout of large-scale mining operations in the vast lands of Brazil especially in lands and territories of Indigenous Peoples that destroys communities and entire cultures in the name of profit.

The Brazil large-scale-mining-created disaster is not an isolated case. Over the years, similar catastrophic disasters occurred in different parts of the globe that also adversely affected Indigenous Peoples. In central BC Canada in 04 August 2014 with the rupture of the Imperial Metals-owned Mount Polley copper and gold mine tailings pond, and in the collapse of the tailings pond of Philex Mining Corporation in Benguet, Philippines from 01 August-13 September in 2012.

The issue of large-scale-mining and tailings ponds should be a worldwide issue and concern. We should be doubly alarmed as there are around 3,500 tailings ponds around the world[ii]operating under similar conditions with the above catastrophes.






Beverly L. Longid


*Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters-A rescue worker searches for victims at Bento Rodrigues district that was covered with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst on 8 November 2015. 


[i]The SamarcoMineração SA controls the tailings dam but BHP Billiton and Vale SA own it through a joint venture to hold the waste from the extraction of iron ore from their mining operations in the area.  The BHP Billiton is an Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and is the world’s largest mining company, and Vale SA., is the third-largest mining company in the world.


[ii] (Center for Science in Public Participation, LONG TERM RISKS OF TAILINGS DAM FAILURE, October, 2011)


Declaración de Solidaridad con las víctimas del desastre minero de Brasil

El Movimiento Internacional de los Pueblos Indígenas para la Autodeterminación y Liberación (IPMSDL) se solidariza con las víctimas del Bento Rodrigues relaves de mineral de hierro presa que irrumpieron el pasado 05 de noviembre 2015 en Brasil. El fracaso de la citada presa dio a conocer un gran volumen de lodos tóxicos que se tragó a comunidades enteras y envenenado el río Doce, en la región de Minas Gerais; y ha llegado el Océano Atlántico causando más daños.

Doce personas murieron, al menos 11 siguen desaparecidos y dejaron más de 500 personas sin hogar ya que el lodo arrasó pueblos cercanos. La magnitud sin precedentes de los daños ambientales y sociales provocados por la tragedia minera agravada por años de sequía severa ha privado a las comunidades locales de las aguas que fluyen libremente de Rio Doce – una fuente de alimentos y medios de vida, y hacer que la agricultura y la ganadería imposible sostener – todo de los cuales son condiciones necesarias para su supervivencia.

A medida que aumentan las bajas y la destrucción, creemos que las acciones tomadas por el gobierno brasileño y las empresas responsables de la catástrofe – Vale, BHP Bilton y SamarcoMineração SA son extremadamente insuficiente y equivale a la negligencia criminal. Además, creemos que no pudieron evitar una calamidad de otro modo evitable, incluyendo la exposición letal de las comunidades, especialmente la de los pueblos indígenas, las mujeres y los niños a los metales pesados y otras sustancias químicas tóxicas. Por lo tanto, deben ser plenamente responsables de las muertes, daños y destrucción de este desastre.

Una declaración anterior de SamarcoMineração SA dijo que los materiales presentes en los residuos contenían solamente el barro y la arena y “no presenta un peligro para la salud humana”. Sin embargo, en base a los puntos de muestra tomadas de la zona, la avalancha de 50 millones de toneladas de tóxicos barro desató altos niveles de arsénico, manganeso y otros metales tóxicos mil veces más que los niveles aceptables. La Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos en un comunicado de la ONU dijo que el residuo “contenía altos niveles de metales pesados tóxicos y otros productos químicos tóxicos”.

Hacemos un llamado al gobierno de Brasil, y BHP Billiton, Vale y Samarco empresas, mientras tanto, al menos deberíamos asegurar un suministro adecuado de agua y alimentos, centros de evacuación, medios de reparación y rehabilitación de todas las víctimas de esta tragedia de su creación. También deben atender las necesidades y respetar los derechos de los afectados, incluyendo los Pueblos Indígenas.

Apoyamos las acciones de los Pueblos Indígenas Krenak para detener y prevenir la transferencia de mineral de hierro de las minas en protesta por el desastre que contamina sus aguas y la demanda de que el gobierno y las empresas para hacer frente a la veracidad de los temas de la catástrofe.

Estamos con nuestros hermanos y hermanas en la demanda para el cese inmediato y la retirada de las operaciones mineras a gran escala en las vastas tierras de Brasil, especialmente en las tierras y territorios de los pueblos indígenas que destruye comunidades y culturas enteras en nombre del beneficio.

El desastre a gran escala de minas creadas Brasil no es un caso aislado. Con los años, los desastres catastróficos similares ocurrieron en diferentes partes del mundo que también afectó negativamente a los pueblos indígenas. En el centro de BC Canadá en 04 de agosto 2014 con la ruptura del Monte Polley relaves de cobre y la mina de oro estanque propiedad de Metales Imperiales, y en el colapso de la balsa de residuos de Philex Mining Corporation en Benguet, Filipinas desde 1 ag hasta 13 sept en 2012 .

La cuestión de los estanques de gran escala de la minería y de relaves debe ser un tema y preocupación en todo el mundo. Debemos estar alarmados por partida doble, ya que hay alrededor de 3.500 estanques de relaves de todo el mundo que operan en condiciones similares con las catástrofes anteriores.






Beverly L. Longid




El SamarcoMineração SA controla la presa de relaves, pero BHP Billiton y Vale SA posee a través de una empresa conjunta para mantener los residuos de la extracción de mineral de hierro de sus operaciones mineras en la zona. El BHP Billiton es una empresa de minería, metales y petróleo multinacional anglo-australiana con sede en Melbourne, Australia, y es la compañía minera más grande del mundo, y Vale SA., Es la tercera mayor compañía minera del mundo.


[1] (Center for Science in Public Participation, LONG TERM RISKS OF TAILINGS DAM FAILURE, October, 2011)

2013 Declaration- WTO and Indigenous Peoples


The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Indigenous Peoples: Resisting Globalization, Asserting Self-Determination

We, the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth gathered here in Bali, Indonesia on 2-6 December 2013, organizing our own workshop and various events parallel to the World Trade Organization Ninth Ministerial Meeting (WTO MC9), hereby agreed to resist neoliberal globalization and assert our right to Self-Determination.
As Indigenous Peoples of the land and the waters, we have a close relationship to Mother Earth and nature. This relationship tells us that life on Mother Earth is in danger and coming to a time of great transformation. We are accepting the responsibility as the guardians of the earth, which has been designated by our respective Original Instructions woven into our cosmovisions, cultures, languages, and ways of life. We are telling the trade ministers of the world governments that we must all work together to create a new paradigm in global trade instruments and economic systems that fully recognizes the vital life-giving cycles, wellbeing and territorial integrity of Mother Earth.
We reaffirm our responsibilities to protect and defend our lands, water, territories, natural resources, culture and traditional knowledge, all of which are vital to the survival of all of humanity and for future generations. We will persevere in our struggle in reclaiming our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples and for the well-being of Mother Earth. Until the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and universal laws that recognize Mother Earth as a living being are observed and respected, genuine sustainable development will not be achieved.
We share a common history of colonization and globalization. For centuries, we experienced the colonisation of our lands, territories, air, ice, oceans and waters, mountains and forests. Colonialism institutionalized the oppression and exploitation of Indigenous Peoples up to the current era of globalization, exacerbated by the neoliberal impositions of multilateral trade agreements implemented over six decades through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. In its 9th Ministerial Conference, we believe that the WTO will only push for greater neoliberal policies on globalization, liberalization, privatization, deregulation, and denationalization that will consequently intensify the violation of our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples and the multiple crises that humanity confronts today.

Thus, with our common problems, aspirations and struggles, we resolved to strengthen our unity as Indigenous Peoples and link our struggles with various democratic sectors and organizations worldwide until our right to self-determination and liberation is achieved.

The World Trade Organization and Violation of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

The WTO is the primary instrument of neoliberal globalization to further economic globalization especially in international trade. It aims to build a unitary system of trade relations of countries around the world governed by various agreements. WTO’s catchphrases of “borderless world”, “leveling the playing field” and “free market democracies”, involves the removal of restrictions or so-called trade barriers that hinder greater corporate profit. While the WTO binds the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to implement the neoliberal policies on trade of goods and services, the few capitalist countries on the other hand, protect their economies from these “free market” policies.
Several WTO Ministerials, such as the Doha Development Round in 2001, collapsed due to continuing disagreements over subsidies on agricultural products, market access, and special safeguard mechanisms, and massive Peoples’ protests. In its 9th Ministerial Conference, the WTO will make decisions on any of the multilateral trade related agreements such as the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS), and General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and forge new multilateral agreements. The proposed agreement for the MC9 called the Bali Package will push for greater liberalization in agriculture, acceleration of LDCs in the WTO, and expedite trade facilitation through restructuring of GATT articles on imports-exports and trade costs. The Bali Package, along with post-Bali issues on International Technology Agreement (ITA) and Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), are labeled by developed countries as the solution to the stalled Doha Round to pursue intensified trade liberalization.
Indigenous Peoples, especially future generations, will be extremely affected by these decisions and agreements. For over 6 six decades now, since colonization, neoliberal policies have intensified the sufferings of the Indigenous Peoples. Our lands, territories and natural resources have been exploited by unsustainable development projects, such as mono-cultural chemically intensive plantations, extractive industries such as mining, oil drilling, hydro projects and other environmentally destructive “renewable” energy projects. Trade and investment liberalization have resulted in development aggression and plunder of our territories. We have been displaced from our Indigenous lands and territories. Our Indigenous knowledge, values and spirituality have been bastardized. And our rights to selfdetermination, to our own governance and own self-determined development have been violated. While defending our inherent and collective rights, we continue to suffer from militarization and State terrorism, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, assassination, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, criminalization of community resistance, harassment and vilification as “terrorists.” All of this has happened for the sake of globalization, and is bound to worsen as the WTO imposes more agreements and policies.
Our experiences show that the removal of tariffs and quantitative restrictions on import goods has led to the influx of foreign products in domestic markets. The AoA has unleashed agricultural liberalisation and imposed the importation of agricultural crops even if locally produced. It has forced many developing countries to favor transnational agricultural companies like Monsanto and compelled impoverished Indigenous Peoples to use high yielding varieties (HYV) seeds without being informed of the negative effects. The AoA pushes for commercial agricultural production, replacing traditional plant varieties with genetically altered species marketed by agriculture companies, and chemical-laden foods.

The AoA eliminates the ability of Indigenous Peoples to produce culturally appropriate and sufficient food. Such trading system is detrimental to Indigenous Peoples’ food security, health and sustainability. It forces dependency to the capitalist market and weakens Indigenous Peoples’ ability to self-determined development and food sovereignty. The WTO demands reduction of subsidies on price support, while capitalist countries refuse to apply this in their own economies. This has damaged livelihoods resulting in bankruptcy of farmers including Indigenous Peoples, as they are unable to compete with subsidized and cheaper imports from abroad. States worsen this situation by failing to protect Indigenous Peoples’ sources of livelihood and food, land and resources.
Through our harmonious relations with nature as part of our spirituality, culture and beliefs, we maintain knowledge and practice of Indigenous medicines from medicinal plants and animals. We, however, are denied rights and control over our Indigenous medicines when these are taken over by big corporations as their intellectual property rights under WTO. Big pharmaceutical corporations race for patents to gain exclusive control for the production, marketing, distribution and sales of products derived from indigenous knowledge and practice. We are also alarmed that the WTO allows the patenting of life forms including extraction of genetic information under its TRIPS. These capitalist monsters treat Indigenous Peoples as valuable and vulnerable targets for medical research and experiments.
Trade agreements on services have further marginalized and impoverished us, with very limited access to basic social and health services, a situation worsened by government neglect and discrimination. Our right to quality and affordable education and health is further violated by GATS which allows foreign corporations to own and operate educational and health institutions leading to profit-oriented and corporate owned services that are available only to the few who have the means to pay. Education is designed to meet the needs and interests of the multinational corporations and the advanced capitalist countries above the social values and needs of Indigenous communities and national development of poor countries. As a result, the youth and the next generations’ futures are bleak and the survival of our Indigenous knowledge is in peril.
Globalisation has even destroyed our biological and cultural diversity, ecosystems, values and traditional knowledge that constitute our existence as humans and as Indigenous Peoples. It is the culprit of the climate crisis, which exacerbates the historical, political, and economic marginalisation of Indigenous Peoples. It puts Indigenous Peoples in a very vulnerable situation, notwithstanding the fact that Indigenous Peoples have contributed the least to the climate crisis.
The dominant world capitalist system under which the WTO and similar trade agreements operate is the culprit to the multiple crises that humanity confronts today. The neoliberal policies of globalization, liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization are the root causes of the protracted economic, financial, political, and climatic crises that have put Indigenous Peoples in more oppressive and exploitative conditions and the planet on the brink of destruction. The WTO MC9 in its Bali Package is hell-bent on pushing and imposing more new deals that would intensify our misery ten-fold, as it demands the acceleration of neoliberal globalization for more profit to the few ruling elite of the advanced capitalist countries and their transnational corporations above the interest of Indigenous Peoples, humanity and Mother Earth. Clearly, the WTO advances the neoliberal globalization framework and violates all the rights of Peoples, including Indigenous Peoples and Nations, to self-determination, life and liberty. The WTO is an instrument that serves the primary interest of the multinational corporations and the few advanced capitalist countries to the detriment of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, humanity, Mother Earth and all life.
Ways Forward
We will persevere in our struggle to gain self-determination and autonomy. Until our right to self-determination is respected, genuine sustainable development will not be achieved.
We are united to oppose and reject the commodification, privatisation and plunder of nature, which includes the green economy, false- or market-based solutions including biodiversity and conservations offsets that put profit above humanity and the planet. We are in solidarity to resist neoliberal globalization. We are united to fight for our rights to self-determination and assert the future we want. We declare to Junk WTO, oppose new deals, and push for an alternative trade agenda appropriate to Indigenous Peoples.
We push for an alternative trade system appropriate for us. We do not just reject trade per se, but push for trade systems that respect and recognise our traditional economies and governance. We envision systems that promote solidarity, mutual cooperation and respect, based on the needs and development of our communities and empowerment of our people. We demand systems that underpin our inherent right to self-determination and our permanent sovereignty over our traditional lands, territories and resources, forests, water, and everything that sustains life for the future generations. We demand systems that reject, and call for the abolition of, all colonial, unequal, and neocolonial trade agreements such as the WTO and other similar trade agreements.
We will continue to strengthen our ranks and further develop and mobilize the capacities of the young generations and women in advancing our struggles against neoliberal globalization and its instruments like the WTO until its removal. We will link our struggles not only with Indigenous Peoples worldwide, but also with other Peoples’ movements, democratic and marginalized sectors and civil society organisations (CSOs) that have common goals and aspirations with that of Indigenous Peoples. We join the worldwide movement to Junk WTO and reject Neoliberal Globalization.
We commit to consolidate our efforts to engage the WTO and other multilateral, regional and bilateral trade syndicates/agreements, and we strongly oppose agreements forged without our knowledge, participation, and consent. In our engagement to these trade agreements, we shall bring to the forefront as main points of assertion our inherent right to selfdetermination, self-determined and sustainable development, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Alta Outcome Document and other declarations on our collective rights as Indigenous Peoples.
We shall strive to achieve gains that go beyond the mechanisms and opportunities in the UN, and of the benevolence of States and governments. Like in other international fora, processes and mechanisms, we shall create our own spaces asserting our rights to lands, territories, and self-determination.
We must take collective control of our natural resources based on the principles of people’s participation, gender equality, environmental and social justice, self-reliant and sustainable management systems and mindful of the needs of the whole of humanity while maintaining a deep respect, responsibility and recognition of the natural laws of Mother Earth and all creatures within. We must regain sovereignty over our lands and resources from multinational corporations and capitalist countries. We focus on building sustainable communities based on indigenous knowledge and peoples’ development, not on capitalist development. We must strive to promote and assert our sustainable ways of life, social and cultural values for the common good and the whole of society, collective interest over individual, service over profit, respect and care for nature and Mother Earth, including our viable solutions as opposed to false solutions to climate change.
While we continue to unite as Indigenous Peoples worldwide, we also uphold the spirit of international solidarity with other sectors, organizations, activists and genuine advocates of our issues. This solidarity advances our global campaign for Indigenous Peoples’ rights to self-determination and liberation. Junk WTO! No New Deals!
Our Immediate Demands
As we conclude our workshop and events parallel to the WTO MC9, we state the following demands to the World Trade Organisation, the States and Corporations:
We demand for focus on new economies based on the principles of living in harmony with nature and governed by the absolute limits and boundaries of ecological sustainability, the carrying capacities of Mother Earth, and in recognition of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
We demand for a stop to the capitalism of nature. All economic frameworks and trade regimes that privatise and financialise the functions of nature through green economy initiatives must be halted. Mother Earth is the source of life which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a natural capital. We call for the halt of all policies controlling the reproductive capacity of Mother Earth through market-based mechanisms that allow for the quantification and commodification of the natural processes of Mother Earth being branded as ecosystem services.
We demand for the respect of Indigenous Peoples’ collective rights, such as but not limited to their traditional lands, territories, resources, free prior informed consent (FPIC), selfdetermination, culture and identity, and traditional management systems as enshrined in the UNDRIP and other international standards in negotiations and agreements. All trade agreements on investments, programs and projects affecting our lands, territories, communities, culture and identity without our FPIC must be immediately revoked and cancelled.
We demand for the repeal of all trade agreements affecting us without our meaningful, full and effective participation and FPIC. Likewise, we demand for Indigenous Peoples’ full and active participation in decision-making processes and discourses on trade and other matters affecting us at all levels. Our right to FPIC is fundamental, and thus we continue to assert that this must be respected. Nothing About Us, Without Us!
We demand for the full recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ inherent and inalienable right to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over our lands, territories, resources, air, ice, oceans, waters, mountains and forests.
We demand an end to the militarization of our communities, for States and corporations to be held accountable on human rights violations, and ensured justice to the victims and their families and communities who have experienced such atrocities.
Likewise, States should provide concrete support, such as appropriate technologies and funds, to help us develop for ourselves our own self-determined and sustainable development models ad methods.
Stop the theft and patenting of our traditional seeds, medicines, traditional knowledge, and our identity. Stop the commodification of our sacred culture for megatourism projects and other big businesses.
Stop the criminalization of community resistance and end the culture of impunity. Pull out State armed forces in Indigenous territories, and uphold the responsibility to provide basic social services to Indigenous communities.
Affirmed this 3rd day of December 2013, in Bali, Indonesia.
Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)

Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN)

Alyansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN)

Barisan Pemuda Adat Nusantara (BPAN)

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)

Land is Life Committee for the Protection of Natural Resources-Manipur

Center for Research and Advocacy-Manipur

Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)

International Organisation for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE)

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)

BAI National Network of Indigenous Women in the Philippines

Innabuyog-Gabriela KALUMARAN Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center

20 years of the WTO is enough! Junk WTO!

We call on our members and partners to endorse the statement below beforeDecember 15, 2015 (Tuesday). Kindly send your endorsement to mpascual@iboninternational.orgIPMSDL is an initiator of this statement.

20 years of the WTO is enough! Junk WTO!

Over the years, people’s organizations have seen the WTO as an instrument that exploits developing nations. Twenty years of its existence has already forced radical changes in the laws of sovereign states and threatened the lives and livelihood of peoples around the world. Any expansion of its power will lead to more losses of our democratic rights. We urge the public to be vigilant and not be misled by rhetoric on the benefits of neoliberal trade and the WTO.

Please read and sign-on to the full statement before the 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO on Dec. 15, 2015:


SIGN ON STATEMENT: 20 years of the WTO is enough! Junk WTO!

December 5, 2015

1121269 Hong Kong, China.

It has been two decades since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which created a multilateral trading system encompassing trade in goods, services, agriculture, and intellectual property.

While a trade organization like the WTO supposedly provides members access to each other’s markets on equal terms, developed countries’ interests have dominated the GATT and the WTO from the start. The WTO’s trade policy framework has thusled to more inequality and long-term problems for developing states.

junkWTOThrough the relaxation of restriction on foreign investments under the WTO’s trade liberalization scheme, developed countries and their big companies continue to exploit land, workers and other resources from developing countries for their own gain. This has intensified inequality between and within countries. In 2014, the UN Development Programmereported that 85 of the richest people in the world have wealth equivalent to the wealth of 3.5 billion of the poorest people in the world. In 2010, 25 major American corporations surpassed the 2010 gross domestic product (GDP) of entire countries. An example is Wal-Mart whose 2010 revenue amounted to $421.89 billion,which is larger than Norway’s GDP ($414.46 billion) and 157 smaller countries.This clearly shows that half of the world’s wealth is owned by the richest one percent.

The dismantling of trade barriers that cover basic services in health care, education, environment, sanitation, water and other social services allowed transnational corporations (TNCs) of rich countries to acquire companies and privatize public services within developing nations. Unbridled competition has also resulted to loweringof labor standards and easingof environmental regulations to attract investments,leading to more human rights violations in the workplace, massive land grabbing and environmental degradation.

Since colonization, neoliberal policies intensified the sufferings of indigenous peoples. This shall worsen as the WTO imposes more agreements and policies that shall further encroach, destroy and plunder indigenous lands and territories through unsustainable projects such as mono-cultural chemically intensive plantations, extractive industries like mining and oil drilling, and dams and other environmentally destructive “renewable” energy projects. Those who resist suffer from militarization and State terrorism, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, assassination, arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, criminalization of community resistance, harassment and vilification as “terrorists.”

The WTO’s enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) hindered developing countries’ access to medicines and medical technology because of the high cost of paying for patent licenses. In the Sub-Saharan African region, an estimated 24.7 million HIV patients cannot access patented anti-retroviral medicines because of prohibitive costs.The WTO also allowed American transnational agribusiness corporation Monsanto to draft a policy under its IPR agreement to place patents on all life forms, from microorganisms to plants. This provided Monsanto an advantage over developing country members of the WTO to control their seeds. TNCs are also attacking indigenous knowledge by patenting plant varieties discovered and cultivated by indigenous peoples for food, medicine and rituals.

In the agriculture sector, the failure of the WTO to reduce the subsidies of developed countries to their farmers has affected the livelihood of cotton farmers in Africa because of the overproduction of cotton in the world market. The cheap price of cotton exported by African farmers led to a decline in production by almost 50% in 12 main African cotton producers between 2005 and 2009.

The expansion of poultry imports from developed countries led to massive rural job loss in Africa. From 1994 to 2003, 110, 000 rural jobs were lost each year in Cameroon. In Ivory Coast, an estimated 1,500 poultry producers ceased production between 2001 and 2003, leaving 15,000 people jobless. In Senegal, 70% of the poultry industry was wiped out because of the poultry expansion of the European Union (EU).

The removal of trade barriers also paved the way for massive importation of food and agricultural products that destroyed the Philippine’s path to self-sufficiency and food security. According to the peasant movement Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, an estimated 2.85 million metric tons of rice was imported by the Philippine government in 2014, leaving a huge drop in farmgate prices of locally produced rice.

The WTO’s policies continue to support corporate control in food systems and trade by altering food safety and price regulations, intellectual property protection and agriculture subsidies. It has also trapped developing countries into exporting cheap raw materials and allowing imported food and agricultural products to their local markets leaving domestic production to decline. Almost 800 million people worldwide continue to suffer from hunger because of corporate control on food.

As if 20 years of the WTO’s stranglehold is not bad enough, the US, EU, Japan and other developed countries want the upcoming 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10) this 15-18 December 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya to commence negotiations on “new issues” – which are really old proposals that these countries have long been seeking to impose as new rules on trade and investments binding on all countries. These would further strengthen the ability of TNCs to operate within and across borders and dictate the prices of goods and services making them unaffordable to the common people. They would also rob developing countries of their remaining policy tools that are necessary for promoting sustainable development and realizing people’s rights.

Over the years, people’s organizations have seen the WTO as an instrument that exploits developing nations. Twenty years of its existence has already forced radical changes in the laws of sovereign states and threatened the lives and livelihood of peoples around the world. Any expansion of its power will lead to more losses of our democratic rights. We urge the public to be vigilant and not be misled by rhetoric on the benefits of neoliberal trade and the WTO.

We call on the public to support people’s organizations and pro-poor advocates pushing fora pro-people trade system that promotes environmental sustainability, genuine economic cooperation, and the right to development. We urge each nation to adopt economic policies and programs that assert their sovereignty over their agriculture and food systems. National and international trade systems should promote policies that will be able to dismantle international cartels and capitalist monopolies that manipulate the prices of commodities in the international market.

As long as the WTO runs world trade, corporate elites and their governments will continue to abuse the people and resources of developing countries. We should not allow this to persist.

20 years of corporate plunder is enough! 20 years of manipulation is enough! 20 years of inequality is enough! 20 years of the WTO is enough!

Now is the time for genuine system change and fair economic cooperation that promotes development for all! Join the fight against WTO! Junk the WTO!