ISIS Amazon Project

Indigenous Rights

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ISIS's work for indigenous people's rights is a natural outgrowth of our collaborations with communities facing oil development and comes from the belief that it is through greater autonomy that traditional communities can ensure survival on their own terms in a changing world. Based on our experiences in indigenous struggles, ISIS has been invited to collaborate in a number of new initiatives outlined below. As with the other initiatives of the Amazon Project, our work on indigenous rights starts with direct partnerships with indigenous organizations and builds on the knowledge and experience gained in these partnerships to address the same issues regionally and nationally. This work also shares with the rest of the Amazon project the goal of rethinking preconceptions, whether legal or scientific, in the light of project experiences and with insights from the knowledge and perspectives of traditional cultures.

Currently ISIS involved itself in the following activities:

  • Zapara partnership: ISIS partnered with ANZAPPA, at that time the political organization of Ecuador's Zapara people, to strengthen the Zapara organizationally, politically, and culturally. The collaboration was particularly timely given the recent selection of Zapara culture and oral tradition as one of nineteen "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" recognized by UNESCO. Goals for the partnership, funded in part by the Fundación Pachamama, included reform and legalization of ANZAPPA's bylaws to bring them more in line with traditional practices; winning legal recognition of traditional Zapara names for those who chose to use them; and preparation of a project for the legalization of Zapara territory.
  • Indigenous judicial systems-legislative proposal: ISIS has been contracted by the Commission for Indigenous and Ethnic Affairs of the National Congress; the Instituto Científico de Culturas Indígenas (Scientific Institute of Indigenous Cultures, ICCI); and ECUARUNARI, the Confederación de Pueblos de la Nacionalidad Kichwa del Ecuador (Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador) to prepare a legislative proposal for law for indigenous justice. The purpose of the initiative is to "begin a process by which the State, the national government, and the Ecuadorian society recognize the existence and importance of Indigenous law and administration of justice; construct a space for the analysis and ordering of Indigenous law and administration of justice..." and "harmonize the principle characteristics of administration of indigenous justice with the national system of justice to create a consensus proposal in line with the Ecuadorian constitution, Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, and other relevant international agreements."
  • Manual of indigenous peoples rights: ISIS has been selected by Fundación Kawsay to prepare a manual laying out the significant rights granted to Indigenous peoples by the Ecuadorian Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. The purpose of the manual is to analyze both these legal documents and a number of case studies to provide indigenous communities and nationalities with a guide for the practical application of these rights. Areas to be covered include the right to information and consultation regarding activities that affect indigenous culture, land, or well-being; territorial rights, including the right to collective ownership; natural resource rights; and the rights of native languages.