As part of our legal training program, ERI organizes and facilitates a recurring seminar in Latin America for earth rights defenders from indigenous communities, focused on their legal and campaigning challenges. These seminars aim to create a space for collaboration and co-powered learning. with the goal of supporting a deep network of legal advocates from indigenous communities. ERI works with these advocates to build their capacity and to connect them with earth rights experts and allies.
These seminars bring together indigenous lawyers and legal advocates from places and contexts across Latin America: Embera, U’wa, and Kankuamo from Colombia, Quechuas, Aymaras, Wampis from Peru, Siona from Ecuador, Mapuche from Chile, and more. Together, they learn and gain skills from each other and other experts in the field. These seminars put legal power back in the hands of those who need it most, as participants exchange knowledge with international and regional experts, connecting the local to the global. Topics include: international law; strategic human rights litigation; mechanisms and tools for the defense of environmental and land rights; and free, prior, and informed consent. The participants thrive off of learning from one another as they share in each individual’s struggles and successes.
One of the participants, Quechua lawyer Katherine Luz Quispe, of Human Rights Without Borders (Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras), said it best:
“All the cases [the participants] shared not only show violation of rights by the government and/or companies, but also shows us that courage and strength our indigenous cultures have in defense of what can essentially be summed up as “life.” At the same time, it shows the great struggles and challenges for those of us who have decided to be human rights defenders.”