Back to All Events

Indigenous Rights Defenders Under Attack: Challenges and Responses

  • The Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue (map)

Human Rights Defenders and Indigenous Peoples are increasingly under attack worldwide. This convergence of threats was recognized by a report last year from the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples. That report highlighted how intensified competition over natural resources -- led by private companies and at times with government complicity -- has placed indigenous communities seeking to protect their traditional lands at the forefront as targets of persecution.

This panel features perspectives from the Americas, Asia, and Africa on the nature of these threats against indigenous rights defenders and the responses these organizations and their allies are taking to ensure the security of indigenous rights defenders and advancing efforts to defend the lands, resources, and rights of indigenous communities.

A reception will follow the panel discussion.


Antenor Vaz, a former senior official at FUNAI, the federal agency responsible for Brazil's indigenous peoples, and an author of a recent report on the situation of voluntary isolated tribes in the Amazon.

Nidia Becerra, has been elected leader of the Inga three times. Nidia works with the Yunguillo, a reserve in the department of Putumayo, in the Colombian Amazon, to achieve the protection of its territory. Under her leadership, she has quintupled the amount of formally protected traditional Inga land. She also coordinates Land is Life’s Indigenous-Led Grantmaking initiative throughout the Amazon.

Daniel Kobei, Founder and Executive Director of Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program, a Kenyan-based NGO working to secure human and land rights of the indigenous Ogiek community and other Indigenous Peoples across Kenya and Africa.

Aisah Czarriane Mariano is Deputy Secretary General of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance, a federation of peoples organizations in the Cordillera region of the Philippines.

Relmu Ñanku is a Mapuche leader from Argentina.

Moderator: John Gershman, Clinical Professor of Public Service, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

For more information, click here

Hosted by: 


  • Wagner's Office of International Programs

  • Land is Life