June 3, 2011
In the shadow of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, UNPO’s newest generation of advocates came together to learn new techniques and share experiences in their work on behalf of their communities in Vietnam.
In conjunction with the 10th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held this May (2011) in New York, UNPO organized a training for youth representatives from three UNPO Member organizations. The youth, representing the Khmer Krom, the Degar Montagnards and the Hmong, were present in New York to engage in advocacy at the UNPFII, and joined the training during the first week of the Forum.
The training was designed to support UNPO’s mandate to promote the engagement of its Members with influential international bodies, including the United Nations. As part of this work, UNPO coordinates delegations to the United Nations while building the capacity of Members to effectively engage with the mechanisms of the UN. However, UNPO is not the only entity with valuable information to offer Members; a number of Member groups already have significant experience with such engagement, and have built strong global networks of activists through peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.
UNPO also sees great value in the engagement of its Members with one another in side-by-side advocacy. The sharing of knowledge and experience between Members lends strength to UNPO as an organization, as well as to individual Member groups. Joint delegations to UN mechanisms provide the opportunity for Members to publicly support other Member groups, lending greater weight to their respective positions.
Joshua Cooper, long-time advisor to UNPO and the Khmer Krom, began the training session with an introduction to effective advocacy at the UNPFII before delving into opportunities for advocacy at the United Nations in general.
Mr. Chau Serey, Chairman of the Khmer Kampuchea-Krom Federation Youth Committee (KKFYC) led the second portion of the training, providing a detailed introduction to the structure and operation of the KKFYC. This presentation, which included information about how the KKF motivates their youth to participate, was aimed particularly at the youth of the Hmong and Degar Montagnard, who are in the process of building up the involvement and activities of youth from their communities.
Following the presentations the youth were given time in small groups to discuss their motivations for being involved in advocacy and their experiences working with their organizations. Participants were encouraged to explore possibilities for future joint action, given their shared focus on working for change in Vietnam.
Attendees found the training session to be very productive, and have already begun discussions about the coordination of future joint activities for the youth advocates working to promote the human rights of indigenous communities in Vietnam.