Regional Network for the Defense of Cross-Border Peoples’ Territorial Rights Plans for 2009

December 01, 2008 | By The Pachamama Alliance

On November 21 and 22, in Quito, Ecuador, the Organizing Committee for the Regional Network for the Defense of Cross-Border Peoples’ Territorial Rights met to establish a work plan for 2009. Convened and coordinated by Fundacion Pachamama in Ecuador, representatives of indigenous organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) from Colombia, Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia participated. In addition to Pachamama, the organizations that form part of the Organizing Committee include GAIA (Colombia), Racimos de Ungurahui (Perú), Shinai (Perú), CEJIS (Bolivia), the Federation Awá (Ecuador), the Coordinating Body of the Achuar Nationality from Ecuador and Perú (COBNAEP), and the Shuar Pueblo Arutam (Ecuador).

As a product of this meeting, the Committee established a clear work plan for 2009 that is aimed at gaining recognition and respect for the territorial rights of indigenous peoples whose ancestral territory are divided by national borders. In addition to the perils of limited recognition experienced by most indigenous peoples, these communities suffer unique impacts related to their “cross-border” character: they live in areas that are historically and/or continue to be in conflict; they are more marginalized from the centers of power due to their “peripheral” location; and their ancestral territories are not recognized in their entirety (such recognition is often perceived as a threat to national sovereignty). The Achuar Nationality – divided by the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border – is a clear example of this reality. There are, however, important bi-national efforts to gain recognition for these communities and strengthen their cross-border relationships. Again, the Achuar Nationality – through COBNAEP – is an important role model in this respect. At the regional level, Ecuador’s indigenous peoples are leading the way in reuniting its communities divided by the national borders.

In this context, the Organizing Committee developed a work plan that is focused in three areas: (1) strengthening bi-national efforts among indigenous peoples from Ecuador and Perú, and Ecuador and Colombia, to gain recognition of their ancestral territories and organizing structures; (2) advancing legislation in Colombia, Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia to recognize territorial rights currently recognized in international agreements and national constitutions; and (3) strengthening the Regional Network so that it can become an important source of information and action in favor of cross-border communities’ rights.

Its worth noting that Ecuador’s new Constitution recognizes, for the first time in the country’s history, the right of communities divided by national borders to establish, maintain and cultivate contact with members of its communities in the neighboring country. This constitutes an important opportunity for these communities, which the Network will leverage to create real changes.

For more information about the Regional Network for the Defense of Cross-Border Peoples’ Territorial Rights, please click here...