Forum invitation 2009


“Violent conflicts, cease fires and peace accords through the lens of Indigenous Peoples”

We hereby invite you or your organization to this year’s conference hosted by the Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples. The conference takes place at the University of Tromsø on October 22nd – 23rd 2009. The title of the Forum conference 2009 is “Violent conflicts, cease fires and peace accords through the lens of Indigenous Peoples”.

The 2009 Forum Conference addresses situations of violent conflicts, unstable ceasefires, and both fragile and successful peace accords affecting indigenous peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The carefully selected cases highlight conflicts, transition stages of “no-peace no-war,” or post-conflict situations. Often, assertion of indigenous rights through organised resistance and struggle against state institutions fuelled the conflicts, and recognition of rights-based demands tends to be crucial for ending conflicts and ensuring sustained peace. The reasons why some of the conflicts have escalated into fractious conflicts between ethnic groups or clans will also be addressed. All the highlighted situations address serious rights violations that have occurred during the protracted conflicts and ceasefires – many of which are ongoing. We seek to answer the question of why these grave discriminations and other violations often remain largely invisible in the national and international media and under-reported by responsible human rights organizations.

The three sub-themes described below will be addressed mainly through the lens of indigenous perceptions of justice and rights. Invited speakers include prominent indigenous leaders representing indigenous and ethnic or inter-ethnic umbrella organisations (both intermediary and national) that play crucial roles in the process of negotiating to end the conflict and building peace.

1. Unknown sufferings: perpetrators and victims of violence and its invisibility

This session addresses the on-the-ground realities of violence affecting indigenous women, children and men during conflicts and after the guns have been silenced. During so-called “ethnic conflicts,” the roles of perpetrator or victim are often manipulated by interested actors. This is currently the case in a number of conflict-ridden areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America where indigenous peoples live.

This session highlights perpetrator-victim dynamics, the nature of violence (including murder, torture, sexualised violence and eviction) and both its obvious and less-visible consequences. It will also examine institutional and political reasons behind media bias, including the lack of attention violence against indigenous peoples, and will address the inconsistent human rights reporting of such crimes to the relevant international bodies (including the International Criminal Court and the UN bodies).

2. Examining the preconditions for building sustainable peace

In a number of cases, protracted violent conflict between militant indigenous movements struggling for greater autonomy and state security forces have eventually led to peace accords. These accords often remain contested by splinter militia, guerrilla groups and certain state actors; this session addresses major stumbling blocs confronting some of such peace-building processes. The preconditions for successful disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, or DDR, will be an important point of discussion. This session invites political-economic analysis, and asks why state security forces, their political allies and some break-off guerrilla groups are sometimes ambivalent to or actively oppose implementation of the peace accords.

3. Norway’s bilateral and multilateral challenges in contributing in peace building and monitoring of peace accords

Norway has an international reputation as peace facilitator and mediator. Yet Norway has not often taken a leading role in negotiating ceasefires and peace accords between state parties and militant indigenous organizations, or in implementing effective monitoring mechanisms for signed ceasefires and treaties Given: Norway’s duties as a state party to the International Rights regime; its policy on Human Rights and Indigenous Rights; and its credibility as a bilateral and multilateral development partner, how can Norway play a more effective role in conflict hotspots?

The last part of this session will, after short introductions, be organised as a Roundtable Discussion on the effectiveness of Norway’s policies with representation from IWGIA, Galdu, The Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) at the University of Tromsø and from the present representatives of national indigenous organizations.

The Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples is a meeting place for researchers, development workers and Sámi organisations engaged in cooperation with indigenous peoples in the South. By initiating important debates concerning policies and practice, the Forum seeks to improve the quality of Norway’s development co-operation with indigenous peoples elsewhere. The Forum has a Board located with the Centre for Sámi Studies at the University of Tromsø, with external representation from other research institutions, Indigenous advocacy NGOs and the Sámi Council.

The conference languages will be English, Spanish and Sami. The conference program and information will be published on this homepage:

The number of participants is limited to 200. The registration deadline is set to 28 September 2009 if you need accommodation. The registration deadline without accommodation is set to 12 October 2009. Please register for this year’s Forum conference by using the registration form on our web pages:


Tone Bleie
Leader of the advisory board
Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples

Terje G. Lilleeng