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Peace and Development: A Challenge for Humanity and for World Leaders

In commemoration of this year’s International Day of Peace, our partner Otilia Lux de Coti, Executive Director of the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF-FIMI), delivered a statement on the inextricable link between the rights of Indigenous Peoples, peace and sustainable development. 

Otilia Lux de Coti presenting at the International Day of Peace Symposium.
Otilia Lux de Coti presenting at the International Day of Peace Symposium.

Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the world are united by ancient history and spirituality, cultures and ways of life, knowledge and wisdom. We are daughters and sons of Mother Earth and we are people with rights, with a vision of the world that is different from that of the cultures that have subordinated us. History, as a mother and as teacher, has taught generations of how all republics were formed in Latin America.

These republics were established as a State born of elites, rooted in racist, patriarchal, discriminatory, exclusionary and feudal pillars, accompanied by an ideological militarism that created violence, which continues in today’s societies. They are mono-cultural, corporate states founded on the exploitation and mutilation of Indigenous Peoples.

The Guatemalan Maya and Mesoamerican People have started a new B’aqtun, at the end and the beginning of time since the conception and thought of the Mayas. This new period means changes or transformations of human behavior towards a decent life and with high respect for Mother Earth. But the changes will not be possible if the conditions to create new states and new economic models that can sustain transformations that societies require do not exist.

The new states must break with these ignominious paradigms of exclusion and discrimination, inequality and poverty, which are an affront to the high values ​​of democracy, freedom, peace, order, justice, law, equity, development and progress.

From the perspective of women and Indigenous Peoples, to implement governance and peaceful democratic coexistence, you must have deep awareness and commitment to solve the big problems that the societies of our countries face.  This can only be possible with a vision of a plural state and rule of law on the part of governments, political parties and leaders, and societies. Additionally, governance and peaceful democratic coexistence are possible if they are based on cooperative processes and workable solutions.

When Indigenous People, including women and youth, address peace and development, we do it from our own perspective, approaching it from the reinvention of a new economic model, based on respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We also analyze it from the perspective of a good life for all mankind. Moreover, our vision includes the respect for Mother Earth and natural resources or natural methods, which are the substantive axles of life of the people.

If these principles are the foundation of a good and harmonious life among human beings, nature, and the cosmos, this is enough to understand compliance with the norms of coexistence, and to understand and respect each other as human beings, respect Mother Earth and manifest respect for a right to life.

What do we mean, then, by harmonization of peace and development? Our response is guided toward the elimination of injustice, economic and political impunity, and the eradication of poverty and violence.  It is ensuring food sovereignty and security.  It is also ensuring life, the rule of law and governance with new models of human development and identity. It also focuses on inclusive, high-quality and long-lasting education models.

To achieve a viable link between peace and development, we need to face major challenges, prioritizing the following because they ensure justice, peace and development:

  • Respect for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including among the priorities the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. The collective rights to land, territory and natural resources are clear examples of complementarity between individual and collective rights. As is well known, Indigenous Peoples are an intrinsic part of the land, where its history and their identity as people are inscribed. It is the basis of life and is why the right to land, territories and natural resources are key demands of the international movement of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous women. 

  • Open and transparent dialogue among civil society, Indigenous Peoples and Governments with the private sector. The rule of law for all. 

  • Design, develop and implement public policies oriented in comprehensive security, intercultural health, inclusive quality education, basic shelter and capacity building. 

  • Strengthen justice, democracy and the rule of law.  Promote Human Rights, Women’s Rights, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The new development model should be based on the values ​​of human relations in their healthiest forms: trust, cooperation, appreciation, solidarity and willingness to share. This will allow the promotion, growth and development of rural economies and of Indigenous Peoples including women and youth.

  • Ancestral knowledge of women and Indigenous Peoples should be a basis for sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

  • Multiculturalism and gender as critical approaches to implementing public policy and of the State. 

Coexistence, harmony and respect for all and a full understanding of different cultures within the framework of respect for human rights is the fundamental and universal principle that should prevail to achieve true peace and development for all people on the planet.

The UN must direct real commitments to address these challenges to maintain peace in the world.