Spokespeople Biographies

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Languages: English



Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a position she has held since 2014. An indigenous leader hailing from the Kankanaey Igorot people in the Philippines’ Cordillera region, she has been fighting for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and rural women since the 1970s, when she helped build an indigenous movement that successfully stopped major dam and logging projects in the Cordillera region. 

Since then, Tauli-Corpuz has founded and managed several civil society organizations dedicated to the advancement of indigenous and women’s rights, including the Tebtebba Foundation, of which she serves as founder and executive director. She was engaged in the drafting and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, and served as the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2005 to 2010. In 2009, she received the Gabriela Silang Award from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in recognition of the work she has done at the forefront of the struggle for Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

In March 2018, Tauli-Corpuz was placed on a list of “terrorists” by the Philippine government, alongside hundreds of other indigenous and human rights defenders, as retaliation for speaking up against the Duterte administration’s human rights violations. She continues to fight for Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and women around the world.


Rukka Sombolinggi

Secretary General, Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)

Languages: English, Bahasa Indonesia



Rukka Sombolinggi is the first woman Secretary General of Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (or AMAN), an organization of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia which has over 1,000 indigenous communities and more than 30 indigenous organizations as members. She belongs to the Toraya People in central part of Sulawesi Island.


Before joining AMAN in 1999, she worked for JAPHAMA (Jaringan Pembelaan Hak-hak Masyarakat Adat), a network of Indigenous Peoples’ defenders—one of the main groups that convened the first congress of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia in March 1999 during which AMAN was established.

Alfred Brownell

Lead Campaigner, Green Advocates and Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Northeastern University School of Law

Languages: English



Alfred Brownell is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading defenders of human rights and the environment in Africa. He is the Founder and Lead Campaigner of Green Advocates International and currently served as Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Northeastern University School of Law Program on Human rights and the Global Economy. He is a litigator and served as lead counsel to Green Advocates and its community partners and networks which include hundreds of local community organizations, labor unions and informal sector business enterprises, and tens of thousands of Indigenous Peoples and local community inhabitants.  


He has campaigned ferociously for the recognition of the customary land and property rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples throughout Liberia and West Africa. Through Green Advocates Public Interest Law Program, Alfred has filed several international complaints against major agro-companies on behalf of local communities and Indigenous Peoples. 


He along with several local communities and Indigenous Peoples won a massive victory against Golden Agric Resources (Golden Veroleum), the world’s second largest oil palm conglomerate, after the Appeal Panel of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) denied Golden Agric Resources’ appeal against complaints Brownell and his colleagues filed against this company in 2012 on behalf of communities and Indigeonus Peoples in Liberia.


Brownell has personally experienced criminalization for his advocacy efforts, and eventually fled Liberia in response to threats of violence and arrest.

Joan Carling

Co-Convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group

Languages: English



Joan Carling is the former Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and current Co-Convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group. She is an indigenous activist from the Cordillera, Philippines. She has been working on indigenous issues at the grassroots and international levels for more than 20 years. Her areas of expertise include human rights, sustainable development, environment and climate change, as well as the principles and application of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).


She has also been actively engaged in international bodies, processes, and mechanisms, such as the International Financial Institutions, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), REDD+ related mechanisms, UN agencies, and mechanisms relating to human rights and sustainable development in advancing the issues and concerns of Indigenous Peoples in Asia. She has been elected twice as the Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), starting in 2008, and has been representing AIPP’s 47 member-organizations in 14 countries. Carling also wrote and edited several AIPP publications and materials relating to human rights, climate change and REDD+, sustainable development, and indigenous women, among others. Ms. Carling was appointed by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as an indigenous expert member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) for 2014-16.


In spite of being placed on a list of “terrorists” by the Philippines government in March, as retaliation for speaking up against the Duterte administration’s human rights violations, she continues to fight for Indigenous Peoples, local communities, and women around the world.


Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic

Council of K'iche' People for the Defense of Life, Mother Nature, Land and Territory

Languages: Spanish


Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, a Mayan leader and community feminist, is a defender of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala and has been a representative of the Council of K'iche’ Peoples.

She is a direct petitioner in complaints against the Guatemalan State filed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and as well as against transnational corporations, and participates in hearings accompanying women affected by mining companies. Chávez Ixcaquic has been subject to threats, intimidation, attacks and attempts of murder, criminalization and judicialization. The government of Guatemala has tried to lift the precautionary measures (specific protection measures) granted her by the IACHR, currently in force.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Council is a movement of organized indigenous communities with a common agenda around: the right to territory; the right to free and informed prior consent (FPIC); resisting the persecution and criminalization of human rights defenders; defending the human rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples, and cultural reclamation of its members.

In 2017, Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic received the Ignacio Ellacuría prize for her defense of human rights, and was nominated for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought given by the European Parliament.

© 2018 by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a global coalition of 15 Partners, 7 Affiliated Networks, 14 International Fellows, and more than 150 collaborating international, regional, and community organizations dedicated to advancing the forestland and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. The views presented on this site are not necessarily shared by the agencies that have generously supported this work, nor by all the Partners and Affiliated Networks of the Coalition. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0. View our privacy policy,


© 2018 por la Iniciativa para los derechos y recursos (Rights and Resources Initiative, o RRI por sus siglas en inglés). RRI es una coalición mundial de 15 socios principales, 7 redes afiliadas, 14 miembros internacionales y más de 150 organizaciones colaboradoras a nivel internacional, regional y comunitario, que se dedica a
fomentar los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y las comunidades locales sobre la tierra y los recursos forestales. Los puntos de vista presentados aquí no necesariamente los comparten los organismos que generosamente patrocinaron el presente trabajo o todos los socios y redes afiliadas de la coalición RRI. Este trabajo es bajo Creative Commons License Atribución Creativa CC BY 4.0.