17th session of the UNPFII: UNPFII Observes Land Issues in Bangladesh

Sunday, 15th July 2018

The 17th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) urged the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to declare roadmap for implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord, to execute powers and functions of the CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils and to approve Rules of Business of the CHT Land Commission.

The 17th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) urged the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to declare roadmap for implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord, to execute powers and functions of the CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils and to approve Rules of Business of the CHT Land Commission.

In the recommendations, the UNPFII says, "10. Recalling the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur appointed to undertake a study on the status of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997 (E/C.19/2011/6, sect. VIII), the Forum encourages the Government of Bangladesh: (i) to set a time frame for the full implementation of the Accord including devolution of authority to the CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils; and (ii) to adopt the Rules of Procedure for the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Commission, and allocate sufficient human and financial resources for the Commission."

Pallab Chakma of Kapaeeng Foundation, in his statement on "Agenda Item 10: Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples", said that Extraction, agribusiness and hydropower are considered to be the topmost projects opposed by indigenous peoples resulting to their criminalization. Similarly, ‘urbanisation’ through infrastructure projects, e.g. road expansion, tourism and conservation through declaration of areas as national park have caused conflicts, attacks and displacement to indigenous peoples.  Oftenly, these so-called development or conservation initiatives are being implemented in violation to the collective rights of indigenous peoples. Some States, criminalization is institutionalised by declaring indigenous peoples who are politically organising in the name of maintaining territorial integrity as committing acts of treason. States should engage indigenous peoples, in cooperation with other relevant human rights bodies and actors, in a meaningful dialogue towards addressing the militarization affecting them, including implementation of treaties, agreements (e.g. CHT Accord) and other constructive arrangement, particularly for countries in transition and regions under peace negotiation.

The 17th session of the UNPFII was held on 16-27 April 2018 at the UN Headquarters in New York. The main theme of the session was “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and natural resources”. In the opening ceremony held on 16 April 2018 at 11:00 am, Ms Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, a representative of the Tuareg people from Mali, was re-elected as Chair of the UNPFII. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly; H.E. Evo Morales, President of Bolivia; Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, among others, spoke in the opening ceremony.

Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly, stressed that – while the UN had taken important steps to enable access to international fora for indigenous peoples – the organization has not “opened its doors wide enough” and that more ambitious steps need to be taken.

Around 1200 representatives of indigenous peoples, member-state, UN specialized agencies, academics, human rights organizations around the globe attended the meeting.


Original news is written by Kapaeeng Foundation

Pictures by Kapaeeng Foundation