|Photo courtesy of firstpeoples.org|
The situation in Cambodia exemplifies this issue. It deserves public attention and urgent government action. The current state of affairs needs to be addressed with a sense of urgency as indigenous peoples are being coerced to acquire private titles and sell them to make way for economic land concessions. Private titles are not consistent with the customary land tenure arrangements of indigenous peoples. They do not recognize the collective nature of indigenous communities, are limited to an area that is insufficient for traditional agricultural practices, and include other conditions that make them inappropriate.
At the global level, indigenous peoples’ customary right to traditional land ownership has been formalized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the Cambodian government in 2007, which sets out the minimum standards for the recognition of the collective rights of indigenous peoples as the basis for social justice and achieving equality. This international human rights instrument affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories, and resources, as well as to their self-determined development. The legal and full recognition of these rights at the local and national levels remains imperative for indigenous peoples’ survival and dignity.”