Swift Foundation September 2017 Newsletter

Swift Foundation September 2017 Newsletter

Swift Foundation extends our thoughts and prayers to the people and communities in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida, and beyond that have suffered through tremendous natural disasters in the past weeks. We applaud the courageous leadership and solidarity of community members in responding to these crises and we look forward to rebuilding efforts that support resilient local economies and the biocultural diversity our planet cries out for.


On September 13-14, I participated in the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples held at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder.

The event gathered many indigenous advocates, lawyers, scholars, students, representatives from NGOs and indigenous communities from around the world. The goals of this two-day event were to look back at the advocacy that resulted in the passage of the Declaration, discuss the present-day usage of the Declaration, and look forward to implementation in the future.

On day one, we listened to accounts of indigenous leaders who were part of the negotiation process leading up to the adoption of the Declaration and stories of the past and current UN Special Rapporteurs Professor James Anaya and Vicky Tauli-Corpuz. They shared some of their best and worst stories while traveling on their missions. One of the funny stories shared by Professor James Anaya was his first official visit to Brazil, where he was constantly accompanied by bodyguards and government officials, followed by the press and taken to remote places by helicopters. Upon returning home, at the airport, after telling his story, Anaya’s teenage son told him: “Don’t worry, dad, you are nobody here”. The audience exploded in laughter.

On day two, we were divided into six groups with the goal of each of the groups to focus the discussion on a specific subsection of the Declaration. Each of the groups had rich discussions identifying good practices, gaps, and strategies moving forward. I joined a discussion on Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). FPIC is included in six provisions of UNDRIP (art 10, 11.2, 19, 28, 29 and 32.2) and being one of the main tools for Indigenous Peoples, it has always been a stumbling block in negotiations and implementation.

Today FPIC remains one of the most important tools, however it has been misused and exploited by big corporations and governments. For example, the government of Peru adopted a law of Free Prior and Informed Consultation, a half-measure, which requires a consultation process with communities but does not require a consent. Consultation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for implementation of FPIC as prescribed in the UNDRIP. Many corporations claim the use of FPIC but because of the lack of normative procedures and a relative “youth” of the field of FPIC, they neglect and often bypass some of the critical elements such as providing ample information on projects, seeking consensus among all community members, community meetings, etc.

Finally, FPIC also raised a discussion among lawyers being the procedural law and threatening the use of core substantive laws on lands, rights and territories and self-determination. In other words, indigenous communities have the right to veto projects based on their core substantive rights without having to engage in FPIC processes.

Moving forward, it’s going to take us all – scholars, lawyers, activists, donors – to make sure that the Declaration does not remain on paper, but is actively upheld and implemented on the ground.

To learn more about the Declaration, please follow these links:
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
More precious than gold: 10 years of indigenous land rights under the UN Declaration

Best Wishes,
Galina Angarova
Program Officer

Cultural Survival Keepers of the Earth Fund

Deadline October 20th

Cultural Survival is pleased to announce the Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) Call for Applications. The KOEF is a small grants fund that supports Indigenous values-based community development. These grants have supported Indigenous-led projects on the leading edge of solutions to the pressing issues for Indigenous Peoples everywhere. Click  here for more information and to apply.

International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples  Website Now Live! (hosted by Swift partner Asociation ANDES)

The online portal is designed as a Knowledge Hub to digitally connect INMIP members and experts, share your knowledge, insights and best practices, learn from members experiences, inspire innovation on mountain issues, and to provide a platform for new ways of working together across continents. Click here to go to the website.

Creating Breakout Innovation 

Nonprofits, community groups, and philanthropists are embracing co-creation as a way to engage a wider community in tackling pressing problems. But only a small percentage of these efforts are resulting in bold innovation and powerful solutions. What does it take to deliver breakout innovation? Click here to read the article co-written by Buen Vivir Director, Joanna Levitt Cea.

Victory! Protect Sacred Natural Sites & Territories

After much lobbying and advocacy by The Gaia Foundation, the African Biodiversity Network, African partner organisations and other allies, The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has just passed a new resolution that will start a new chapter in the protection of sacred natural sites and territories in Africa. Click here to read the resolution.

Power and Potential: New Report on Women’s Rights to Community Forests

Equal rights and opportunities for women are not only matters of justice and dignity. When women and girls have equal rights in law and practice, their communities and countries also benefit. Click here to read more and download the report.

The Obama Foundation Fellowship
Application Deadline October 6th

The Obama Foundation Fellowship program seeks to support outstanding civic innovators from around the world in order to amplify the impact of their work and to inspire a wave of civic innovation. Click here to learn more and apply.

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