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Taking action with the EU The European Union offers several possibilities of action for indigenous representatives willing to make their voice heard in the European institutions. You will find hereafter information about the European system, and some advices on how to deal with the European Union.

Taking action with the EU 

The European Union offers several possibilities of action for indigenous representatives willing to make their voice heard in the European institutions. You will find hereafter information about the European system, and some advices on how to deal with the European Union.

To be a Docip volunteer involves putting one’s skills at the service of indigenous delegates during their participation in the UN arena.

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The European Union

The European Union (EU) is a key player on the international scene, active in various fields, including human rights, development assistance and environmental protection. No other institution within Europe has comparable means of actions regarding human rights protection (e.g. corporate social responsibility, human rights clauses in bilateral agreements, monitoring of trade agreements, etc.).

Furthermore, its influence largely exceeds the diplomatic framework because the EU requires its partners - public or private - to act with respect for human rights. Indeed, all bilateral agreements between the EU and third countries include a human rights' clause that emphasises that these rights are an essential component in the relations with the EU and that there are sanctions or other penalties should that clause be breached.

The EU is a large and extremely complex institution; it has an enormous legislative output that may affect directly or indirectly indigenous peoples.

It is important to be heard in the EU since it applies the UN rules. Within the EU, it should be possible to enforce what indigenous peoples have obtained in the UN. UN principles can in different ways be transposed into European (directives?) compulsory rules so that these principles apply not only to the 28 Member States of the EU, but also to all its partner States and to all the multinational companies with headquarters in the Union.

The first stage of any action in the EU: the information of the various actors

The European institutions have limited staff compared to the mass of files to be processed. Besides, they operate on the basis of contradictory debate, and allow everybody to come to defend their position. Each member of the civil society, each interest grouping can take part in the debate on issues that concern him and speak out. That in itself is very positive but, in practice, the scale of the task makes it difficult to consult all the actors. As a consequence, if you do not effectively take part in this debate, it is very likely that, due to a lack of information, you are "forgotten" in the process.

In other words, to ensure that your views are taken into consideration in the EU, you have to be as striking as possible and establish for each case a clear, complete and operational file. It is important to develop a proactive and coordinated advocacy strategy, suited to the European environment and taking into account the EU agenda. Our office in Brussels is at your disposal to help you in these tasks.

Before engaging in any procedure, we can identify together the relevant actors to work on your situation. Prior to reaching each actor, it is important to enquire in advance about its expertise and means of action in order to adapt your arguments and your requests.

When dealing with the various actors of the EU, remember that you do not always communicate with experts on the issues discussed as the EU officials process dozens of files at the same time, on highly diverse problems. Do not make the assumption that your contact knows the Aboriginal concerns or is informed of the situation in your area.

It is important to favour a clear and succinct writing. Your contact in the EU must be able to understand the problem, learn about the facts and know your claims in a short time. Moreover, the officials aware of your problem will in turn be able to inform you of the work in progress that may help you.

Try to make your requests operational: do not just denounce situations, but suggest to your contact avenues to solve the situation as much as possible.



The work of doCip in the European Union

The European Union (EU) works on a large number of specific issues at local levels. It has an influence on its Member States as well as on the rest of the world via its partnerships. So you should know that even if your community is not located on the territory of the European Union (EU), the EU can, potentially, take action to address your concerns.

Docip Office in Brussels was created to allow indigenous delegates to lobby within the EU and to make their voices heard.

What do we do?

  1.  We work in Brussels to inform you on the key elements of the European agenda (through Docip's different communication channels) that concern indigenous peoples and on the range of possible action arising in this context.
  2.  We will try to act as a connecting link, relaying information between indigenous peoples' delegates and EU decision-makers when a region or an indigenous community faces serious difficulties, whether in regard to human rights abuses or issues related to development, environment, economic or social situations, etc.
  3.  We aim to assist indigenous delegates who wish :
    1. to get EU decision-makers involved in and raise their awareness of indigenous issues in order to make them, in the long term, an EU priority.
    2. to encourage the European Union to eliminate or alleviate the abuses suffered by their community.
    3. to create precedents that could be used by other indigenous delegates to promote their communities' concerns.

What can the EU do?

  • The European Union demands that all its state and private partners respect human rights.
  • The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) can modify EU legislation to take your issues into account. They can also use their moral authority and influence with the media to call attention to the abuses you are suffering, whether it is from Brussels or during a mission in your region.
  • The European Commission can put pressure on states or on European companies involved in such abuses in order to stop them.
  • The EU maintains diplomatic relations with almost every country around the world through the European External Action Service (EEAS). Once aware of your concerns, the EU can try to put pressure on the state concerned in order to improve your situation.
  • The Court of Justice of the European Union may impose penalties on Member States of the European Union if they do not (correctly) apply a European rule.

What can't the EU do?

  • The European Union cannot force a state to act in a certain way, because the application of the European position depends on the goodwill of the state's government.

How to take action?

  • The first thing to do is to set up a clear case file about your concerns. We recommend you to be as specific and detailed as possible and to present as many facts as possible.
  • Keep in mind that the members of the European Union will form their initial opinion on the basis of this case file. Get right to the point in your requests; do not just stop at condemning the abuses you are facing, but propose actions to confront them. Avoid wording that could be considered improper, too strong or too political.
  • We are at your disposal at the following e-mail address: eu(at) If you wish, we will suggest you some directions for taking action, during a Skype meeting, and cooperate with you to draw up a strategy to lobby the EU institutions.
  • We will suggest some ways that you can inform the EU institutions about your concerns and, at your request, we will ensure coordination among the various stakeholders (NGOs, institutions, MEPs, etc.)
  • In cases where it is necessary, we can organise your venue to Brussels in order for you to directly advocate for your cause at the EU and to meet the various stakeholders and decision-makers in person. To this end, we have a budget to cover the travel costs of approximately 30 delegates per year.

Emergencies: for human rights and activists in danger

The EU has formal and informal ways to take action to help human rights defenders who are in danger:

  • The EU Parliament can make emergency resolutions denouncing an imminent threat.
  • The EU Commission has contingency funds to provide immediate financial support to the activists in danger, so that they can pay for bodyguards, buy a plane ticket, etc.
  • EU staff abroad (head of the EU delegation to the country, MEP on mission abroad, etc.) may decide to act via diplomatic channels or attract media attention to help the person in danger.

If you are facing imminent danger, contact the EU delegation in your region and the ProtectDefenders Mechanism.