Indigenous Peoples in Africa
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on indigenous peoples in Africa. According to the World Bank, indigenous peoples are among the world’s poorest. Within their countries, they show disproportionately high levels of poverty, with even less access to education, health care and employment than other segments of the population. Their plight is especially dire in Africa, where an estimated 17 million, out of a total of 22 million indigenous peoples, are considered poor. Discrimination, the lack of political participation, denial of justice and forced displacement further perpetuates their marginalization.
In this context it is important that indigenous communities and their representatives become active players in the debates that concern them. The lack of adequate legal protections makes them more vulnerable to continuing abuses. While the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was an important step forward in recognizing the existence of their human rights, the impetus ultimately rests with the state to extend the protections enshrined in the declaration. The adoption of a new constitution in 2010 in Kenya was unprecedented because it explicitly recognizes the country’s indigenous groups and anchors their rights.
This hearing will address the human rights situation of indigenous peoples on the African continent, with a particular focus on Kenya and Ethiopia. It will explore ways to engage indigenous peoples more directly and identify what particular roles, given their specific cultures, traditions and expertise they can play with respect to economic development.
If you have any questions, please contact Lars de Gier (Rep. McGovern) or Gary Oba (Rep. Wolf) at 202-225-3599.
Sharon Cromer, senior deputy assistant administrator for sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development