Prasit Leepreecha is a faculty member in the Department of Social Science and Development, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University. He earned a doctoral degree in social anthropology from the University Washington, in Seattle, in 2001. His research interests include ethnicity in mainland Southeast Asia, indigenous people’s movements, ethnic tourism, multicultural education, monument building and social memory. He is the co-author of books entitled “Challenging the Limits: Indigenous Peoples of the Mekong Region” and “Living in a Globalized World: Ethnic Minorities in the Greater Mekong Subregion”.
Indigenous Peoples’ Movements in ASEAN
Indigenous peoples’ movements first began in the new world countries dominated by European settlers. Although indigenous peoples in North and South Americas had launched petitions to the League of Nations as early as the 1920s there was not much attention paid to them in that prewar international organization. In the early 1970s, the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities set up a Working Group on Indigenous Populations. In 1993, United Nation declared the first International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and launched the First Decade of the World’s Indigenous People in 1995. August 9 is declared to be International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) was adopted in September 13, 2007. Annually, there is a Permanent Forum on indigenous issues organized at the main office of United Nation in New York. Since the 1990s - and within the context of globalization - both the concepts and, also, the organizational methods of indigenous peoples movements in Western countries have been adopted by native and disadvantaged peoples in a number of Southeast Asian countries. The regional office of indigenous peoples, Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), is based in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. During the past few decades, the AIPP has played an essential role in assisting and coordinating the indigenous peoples’ movements in many countries in Southeast Asia. This research project seeks to examine how the concept of “indigenous peoples”, has been adopted, redefined and localized by ethnic groups, despite a very different different historical context. This project aims to investigate the historical development of the AIPP and its roles in cooperating with the international movements of indigenous peoples in ASEAN countries. This concentration on civil society contrasts with mainstream studies of the ASEAN community, which focus on cooperation between governments and the business sector.