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Declaration establishes Working Group on People’s Living in Isolation and Initial Contact

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

following convening in Lima

Following two days of meetings in Lima, Peru, 21 organizations from across the Amazon and El Chaco have formed The Working Group on People’s Living in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact. This announcement follows the release of:Indigenous People’s Living in Voluntary Isolation: Territories and development in the Amazon and El Chaco Regions — Regional Report“, which will be formally presented today at the IUCN III meeting on Latin American and Caribbean Congress of Protected Areas.

Land is Life was appointed to be the Secretariat of the Working Group and is pleased to share the Lima Declaration, signed by 21 participating organizations:


This is the declaration of Indigenous organizations, NGOs, indigenous leaders, researchers, scholars, and advocates of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and Suriname who met in Lima, Peru between October 10-11, 2019. We met to analyze and discuss the situation of indigenous peoples living in isolation and initial contact (PIACI) and learn about the results of the Report: “Indigenous Peoples in Isolation: Territories and development in the Amazon and the Gran Chaco – Regional Report”.

The report included the efforts of more than 11 organizations in 8 countries in the region where PIACI exist, resulting in the recording of 185 identified settlements or groups of indigenous people living in isolation. The report signals the pressures and threats that PIACI are under, and established pioneering regional vision of the situation of the PIACI in the Amazon and the Gran Chaco.

After our meeting, the organizations, leaders, and researchers issued this declaration to capture their reflections and conclusions:

  1. Observing and fully respecting the principle of self-determination of indigenous peoples, we ratify ourselves on the principle of no-contact as the principal guideline and fundamental right of indigenous peoples living in isolation, consecrated in the international standards of the rights of indigenous peoples. We reject the actions and initiatives that promote the forced contact made with these peoples.

  2. We are extremely concerned about the setbacks experienced in the region in relation to the protection of indigenous peoples living in isolation and in general with respect to the land rights of indigenous peoples. In this sense, we think that the case of Brazil is paradigmatic and represents the most radical turning in relation to the reorientation of policies that tend to generate setbacks with respect to international landmarks and standards of protection of the indigenous peoples.

  3. Nevertheless, the setbacks to PIACI protection policies are not an isolated trend in the region. In Bolivia, there have also been setbacks in policies that affect indigenous peoples and populations in isolation. These setbacks have reversed the legal advances of the previous years, applying extractive plans, mega-enterprise projects and expansion of the agricultural frontiers. In Peru and Ecuador, there had been a number of laws, regulations and guidelines for the protection of PIACI. However, there are policy measures that circumvent responsibility for the protection and intangibility of the indigenous peoples territories. Among other things, we can mention the recategorization of the territories to weaken their protection. Exceptions to the protection of PIACI are made where there are extractive interests, increase of granted areas for exploitation and institutional dismantling and reduction of fiscal resources intended for the protection of the PIACI. There has also been an exclusion of the indigenous peoples who share territory with the PIACI in the process of decision making, monitoring and social control.

  4. In Venezuela, there are no specific protection rules for PIACI. Therefore we consider it important to urge the Asamblea Nacional Constituyente to adopt the recommendations that have been made by indigenous organizations, their allies and the Ombudsperson for stipulating a constitutional article for PIACI protection.

  5. The implementation of megaprojects, infrastructure work, hydroelectric, roads, forestry concessions, hydrocarbons, and mining in indigenous peoples’ territories – granted with the endorsement of the governments – create an increase in social conflicts, degradation of ecosystems, and violations of fundamental human resources for PIACI. Also, there is a serious absence of state protection in PIACI territories that have been occupied by illicit and illegal activities, weakening the PIACI’s ability to control and protect their states. The current situation entails a real risk of genocide. The conclusions of the Regional Report illustrate how these policies are not the result of dynamics isolated in the national space, but a reflection of a regional scheme that constitutes a “development model” in the Amazon and the Chaco that contradicts the main normative and standards of protection of the PIACI rights.

  6. Additionally, the impacts of this development model and its policies create consequences like threats and the criminalization of people and institutions related to indigenous rights, the weakening of Territorial Protection Statutes, as well as the refusal of states and companies to adopt the precautionary principles and other safeguards aimed at ensuring the intangibility of the territories of the PIACI.

  7. This landscape demonstrates the lack of political will of governments to implement and observe the protection guidelines while the model of extractive development is consolidated in the region. States have been freezing their decisions on new demarcation for groups in isolation, which undermines the full recognition of their rights, as found in Peru and other countries in the region. While the number of PIACI records has increased between 2005 and 2019, as progress in research processes, official recognition of people in isolation and their territories continues to be a challenge in countries such as Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela. In this Regional Report, we have information about 185 peoples living in isolation. From these, only 66 are confirmed by their governments.

  8. We consider it indispensable to point out that indigenous peoples in isolation are found in a situation of vulnerability due to non-compliance and invisibility of their rights by the surrounding society. In conditions without these pressures and threats in their territories, these people could develop their social and cultural life fully.

  9. We have set the goal of creating a permanent regional working group that can boost the protection of these people at the international, regional, national and local levels. This working group proposes to improve the protection processes of indigenous peoples living in isolation and increase their capacity to have a national, regional and international impact on policies for the protection of their rights. In this context of serious setbacks, we reaffirm our collective commitment to defend the rights and protection of the territories and life of the PIACI. We call on all sectors of national and international civil society to join this objective and urge states to effectively enforce protections needed to ensure these ends.

Lima, October 11, 2019


Central Indígena de Comunidades Tacana II del Río Madre de Dios – CITRMD

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