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22 March


Interconnections between Land Insecurity, Displacement, and Forced Migration in South Asia


Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, and natural resources are inextricably linked to their cultures and identities. To be removed from their lands would be tantamount to compromising their livelihoods, personal safety, and collective security—as well as the continuity of their cultures. 


Although many Indigenous Peoples still reside in rural areas, there has been an increase in their involuntary and voluntary migration from their territories to more urbanized settings. Even so, Indigenous Peoples continue to be systematically ‘left behind’ in international migration frameworks, despite how they are especially at risk of (internal) displacement, including forced evictions from their homes, and forced migration due to land and livelihood insecurity. 


The drivers of such migration can range from poverty, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, and the lack of access to quality education, through to land dispossession, conflict, militarization, and the loss of traditional livelihoods. These drivers are often exacerbated by business-related activities, including development projects, with such situations recurring across the South Asian context.


Even though there may be instances where migration brings with it new opportunities, having to resettle into a new environment usually comes with new challenges and can also result in heightened insecurity, as Indigenous Peoples struggle to find employment, experience systemic discrimination, and face serious difficulties in maintaining ties with their identity, community, culture, and language. In South Asia—as is the case in other parts of the Asia-Pacific region—not enough attention has been directed to the experiences of Indigenous Peoples when it comes to forced migration and how this connects with broader issues to do with land insecurity, displacement, as well as business and human rights.

Session Description

In this session, speakers will discuss the interconnections between land insecurity, (internal) displacement, and forced migration within the context of business and human rights in South Asia. In so doing, the session will highlight the under-documented experiences of Indigenous Peoples who are forced to migrate and who are pushed into precarious work, especially in urban areas. It will also underscore the drivers of these dynamics, together with how protections and safeguards can be afforded to Indigenous Peoples who are especially at risk. 


The session will be organized in an interactive ‘fire-side chat’ format, where speakers will begin by providing some trigger remarks to ‘set the scene’ and after which questions and discussion points from the floor will be invited.

Session Objectives

The key objectives of this session are to:


  1. Spotlight the experiences of Indigenous Peoples impacted by business activities that result in land insecurity, (internal) displacement, and forced migration; 

  2. Share recommendations with respect to how the precarious situations faced by Indigenous Peoples can be mitigated, if not prevented outright;

  3. Consider the ways in which States, businesses, and international organizations can better protect and respect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and, specifically, migrants. 



Panelists will reflect on a set of guiding questions, as follows:


  1. How are land insecurity connected to the displacement and forced migration of Indigenous Peoples? 

  2. What are the main drivers of land insecurity, as faced by Indigenous communities, in South Asia? 

  3. What are the current trends across South Asia vis-à-vis the involuntary and voluntary migration of Indigenous Peoples?

  4. What are the key opportunities and barriers to protecting and respecting the rights of Indigenous migrants?  

  5. How can States, businesses, and international organizations work to ensure these rights at the different levels of implementation (e.g., local, sub-national, national, regional)? 


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