Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples

Athili Sapriina during the annual Rotary Peace Fellow seminar at the University of Queensland.

Athili Sapriina during the annual Rotary Peace Fellow seminar at the University of Queensland, Australia.

By Athili Sapriina, 2013-2014 Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia

I first became aware of Rotary Peace Fellowships during a trip to the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US, in 2008. I had previously attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City and over the years witnessed an increased involvement of Rotary with indigenous peoples issues. I am honored to be the first Naga to be awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship.

The three million Nagas are indigenous peoples of the mountainous frontier between India and Burma. Since the end of British colonialism, Nagas have fiercely defended their independence resulting in the death of thousands — Indians, Burmese and Nagas

The peace fellowship gives me a chance to build on current peace initiatives to resolve one of the longest running disputes in the world. Nagas seek the reunification of their homeland, which is divided between India and Burma. Within India, Nagas are further segregated into four states reducing them to minorities in their own land.

In 1994, I participated in the first World’s Indigenous Peoples Day held at the YMCA in New Delhi, India. Since then, globally there has been major advancements through the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, an Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Working toward peace necessitates continuous dialogue. I find it fascinating that indigenous leaders, support groups, and national governments continue to engage on these issues even where agreement is lacking on how the UN declarations apply. For example, some states do not acknowledge they have indigenous peoples within their territories, and therefore do not recognize a responsibility under the declaration. Achieving peace, understanding, and justice is a work in progress.

Still, in September, the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is expected to reiterate the important and continuing role of the UN in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

As a print journalist, I plan to use my skills to work for peace, justice, and greater tolerance, while branching out into radio and current media platforms. My peace fellowship has increased my capacity to contribute meaningfully to this important issue.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is 9 August. Watch a live webcast of the commemoration at the UN on 8 August and learn more about how you can support the Rotary Peace Centers program.

8 thoughts on “Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples

  1. Pingback: President’s Comment – 26 Nov 17 – Rotary E-Club of D9700 – Serving Humanity

  2. Have Peace scholars especially those on Rotary backing note if peace or conflict factors the same in all countries.What are their findings in this regard? Shouldnt there be reference archive or clearinghouse for peace works? A data bank of peace projects should have been done or undertaken since!See the 21st C – has there been real peace or rare conflict since the end of the world wars?Kudos however -what if RI remained aloof since!! Gbemisoye TijaniD9125


  3. … I see! -the media background and skills-No wonder Athili was able to resiliently contribute to peace interventions .Again being a Rotrian and a journalist you can hardly be indifferent to unjust issues.Gbemisoye Tijani


  4. Peace has been defined as the science of survival by UNESCO years back .Rotray should expand causes and more dimensions of peace especially in developing countries and within indigenous peoples of the world.Watching peace productively but this must be done endogenously too. Gbemisoye Tijani D9125 RC Oluyole Estate,Ibadan


  5. To >>1. DG  Art Peoples >> >>2. DRFC Ted Silver >> >>3. Scholarship Committee Chair PDG Paul ‘Budd’ O’Malia >> >>4. Dr. Murphy >> >> >Hi all, >Just sharing a news feature that appeared on the Rotary Blog commemorating the indigenous peoples day August 9.  >Thank you for supporting me all along. > > >Regards, > > >Athili Sapriina >Rotary Peace Fellow >University of Queensland >+61-415 449 816 > 


  6. Pingback: Rotary Peace Fellowship | The Lookout

  7. Pingback: Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

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