Indigenous Rights and Transitional Justice: Two Side Events to the UN Permanent Forum


The Eleventh Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues opens today at the UN headquarters in New York. This session opens dialogue on the continued impact of the Doctrine of Discovery, a 500 year old law justifying the annexing of indigenous land, and the right of indigenous peoples to redress for the injustices they have suffered.

In seeking to establish accountability for past atrocity, many transitional justice mandates have also sought to redress crimes against indigenous populations. To further explore this relationship, ICTJ and our partners in Canada and Colombia are holding two side events to the UN Permanent Forum:

Our Legacy of Hope: Youth Perspectives on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Beginning in 1874, Canada attempted to assimilate their diverse indigenous populations by forcing aboriginal children to attend church-run Indian Residential Schools (IRS). By the time the last school closed in 1998, more than 150,000 children had been taken from their families and communities, forbidden from speaking their native language or practicing their cultural traditions.

On Thursday, May 10, ICTJ and the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN are pleased to invite you to attend a film screening and panel discussion on youth involvement in indigenous truth-seeking measures.

“Our Legacy Our Hope,” a mini-documentary produced by Canadian youth, follows the proceedings of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established to address the legacies of the IRS system. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on incorporating youth perspectives in truth-seeking.

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The screening and panel discussion will also take place in the evening, from 6:00–7:30pm at New York University. RSVP

Truth Commissions and Indigenous Peoples: Lessons Learned, Future Challenges

In the continued armed conflict, Colombia’s indigenous peoples have suffered gross violations of their rights: forced displacement, persecution, killings, and disappearances.

On Tuesday, May 15 ICTJ, in collaboration with the Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia and the Asamblea de Cabildos Indígenes del Norte de Cauca, two indigenous rights groups in Colombia, are holding a panel discussion to examine the work of truth commissions to expose abuses committed against indigenous peoples.

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During this event ICTJ will also launch and distribute a new report entitled “Strengthening Indigenous Rights through Truth Commissions.” This report is based on the findings of an international conference held by ICTJ in 2011 and provides recommendations to consider when setting up truth commissions focused on redressing abuses against indigenous peoples.