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Department of International Law > OAS

Indigenous Peoples - July 2013

Workshop on the political participation of indigenous leaders comes to an end

The Organization of American States (Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs) held a workshop on good governance and political participation for indigenous leaders, members of nongovernmental organizations, and government officials working on indigenous issues.

It was held at the Spanish Cooperation Training Center of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) in La Antigua, Guatemala, on June 17-21, 2013.

Workshop on the political participation of indigenous leaders

The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Jesús Oyamburu, Director of the Spanish Cooperation Training Center in La Antigua, Guatemala and by Mr. Luis Toro Utillano, Senior Legal Officer at the OAS Department of International Law.

There were 27 participants: from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Suriname, as well as Guatemala. Speakers included professors, national indigenous leaders involved in political and community affairs, and staff of the OAS Secretariat for Political Affairs and the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs.

This activity combining training and empowerment in indigenous issues was possible thanks to the logistical support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and to the financial support of the German Government (BMZ) and the German Development Agency (GIZ).

The Workshop forms part of the "Department of International Law's Program of Action to Strengthen the Participation of Indigenous Peoples in the inter-American System," which seeks to enhance the political impact of the indigenous peoples through proposals combining concepts relating to the inter-American system, democratic values, and communication strategies, in addition to identifying the players and institutions involved, while emphasizing actions that further gender equity.

Workshop on the political participation of indigenous leaders

Special emphasis is also placed on activities in which training is imparted by the participants themselves, so that they can replicate what they learn and organize training courses in their communities or workplaces, using their own resources. In the last year alone, such replication in participants' communities and workplaces has led to the training of more than 400 people by persons who were awarded grants to attend our workshops.

Thanks to the funds provided by the German Government (BMZ) and the German Development Agency (GIZ), the Department of International Law has engaged in the following training activities in the past five years:

• Workshops on the political participation of indigenous women aimed at strengthening leadership by promoting greater participation of indigenous women in efforts to forge a society of empowered citizens (la construcción ciudadana) (Ecuador in December 2010; Guatemala in June 2011; Chile in December 2012, and now in La Antigua, Guatemala.

• Workshops on the planning, design, execution, and evaluation of projects aimed at generating aptitudes and skills for self-management (Panama in November 2009; Peru in May 2010, Ecuador in November 2010, and Guatemala in June 2011).

• Courses on good governance, covering various decision-making processes, methods for formulating public policies, and institution-building (Panama in November 2009 and Peru in May 2010).

• Training in comprehensive use of the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights, aimed at familiarizing indigenous leaders with that system and showing them how to make effective use of it (Colombia in December 2009; Costa Rica in September 2010; Peru in November 2011,and Mexico in July 2012).

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