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4th Annual Indigenous Peoples' Rights Course & Field Visit in Costa Rica

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HREA and the University for Peace Human Rights Centre annually organize a blended learning and field experience program about the protection and emerging rights of indigenous populations.

Indigenous Peoples' Rights: a blended learning and field-based experience in Costa Rica - 4th Annual Course & Field Visit 

  1. E-Learning Course Indigenous Peoples' Rights: 4 June - 15 July 2014
  2. Field Visit: Amburi, Talamanca, Costa Rica: 4 - 10 August 2014

Recommended for: staff of human rights NGOs and other civil society organizations, practitioners, academics, and students studying in areas of indigenous peoples' rights, human rights, environment, gender, and development. Past participants have come from a wide range of fields with diverse professional and educational experiences. We believe that for a course of this nature, the greater the diversity, the better.

Please note, it is possible to participate in only the e-learning or only the field components of this program.

IPR 2014

(1) E-Learning Course: Indigenous Peoples' Rights: 4 June - 15 July 2014

This 6-week e-learning course will address the broad spectrum of issues involved in the field of indigenous peoples' rights, beginning with who qualifies to be "indigenous peoples", the scope of their right to self-determination, the international and regional legal frameworks for the protection of their rights, the challenges associated therewith, and the debates surrounding the concept of indigenous governance. The course will also look closely into human security and human development issues relating to indigenous peoples, the role of extraction and other business corporations in indigenous reservations/areas, and the effect of intellectual property rights on the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. Strong emphasis will be placed throughout the course not only on theory and law, but also on case studies from around the world.


Week 1: Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Identity and the Right to Self-determination
Week 2: International and Regional Legal Framework for Indigenous Peoples' Rights
Week 3: Indigenous Governance
Week 4: Indigenous Peoples, Human Security and Human Development
Week 5: Indigenous Peoples Rights and Business Corporations
Week 6: Traditional Knowledge, Intellectual Property Rights and Indigenous Peoples

(2) Field Visit: Amburi, Talamanca, Costa Rica: 4 - 10 August 2014

The field visit will include an orientation at the UPEACE main campus (4 August), a five-day field trip to the Amubri region of Talamanca, Costa Rica (5-9 August) and an additional stay in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo (9-10 August).

Please plan to arrive in Costa Rica no later than Sunday, 3 August and depart from Costa Rica on Monday, 11 August. If participants wish to extend their stay, they may do so at one's own expense.

Location: UPEACE campus, Amubri and nearby places in the Talamanca region and Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. The Amubri region - close to the Caribbean coast and the border to Panama – is home to the Bribri and Cabecar, two of the largest indigenous communities of Costa Rica.

Language: English (Spanish skills are desirable, but not required.)

Format: The field visit will include a one-day introductory workshop at the UPEACE main campus followed by a field trip to the Amubri region, where participants will visit community associations and meet with community elders, school teachers, medical service providers and others. The field experience is intense and there will be a debriefing session every day. A wrap-up session will be held in Puerto Viejo on the evening of 10 August before the group returns to San José. 
Content: The field visit will build upon the 6-week e-learning course Indigenous People' Rights, and will increase participants' knowledge and understanding about international law, environmental law, human rights law, and religious and gender-specific issues as they relate to indigenous communities. During the field visit, participants will have the opportunity to further address:

• Universal and regional systems to protect indigenous peoples’ rights
• Universal and regional norms regarding indigenous peoples’ rights
• Issues of self-determination, including rights to land, identity, consultation and culture
• Multinational corporations, development and indigenous peoples' rights

Participants will also:

• Critically analyze impacts of colonization in Latin America on indigenous peoples’ rights.
• Learn about and analyze case studies from Amubri and surrounding areas in Talamanca.
• Visit community facilities and local associations and meet with indigenous people including community elders.
• Observe and analyze various on-going projects in the region.
• Analyze experiences in light of existing relevant international normative frameworks.

Please note that this is a tentative list. Given that this is a customized course, specific topics might be suggested by the participants ahead of time.

Accommodation: This is a field trip to an indigenous community. Accommodation in the Amubri region is modest compared to that in other regions of Costa Rica. Participants will be accommodated in dormitories similar to hostels throughout their stay. The lodge in Amubri is part of an effort by a group of indigenous women to develop sustainable indigenous tourism to support their livelihoods. This is, however, still in an early phase and participants will learn first-hand about such efforts by the indigenous women themselves. The facilities at the lodge include a seminar room with computers and Internet access made available through funding from foreign donor governments. Participants may bring their own laptops.

Participants are expected to arrange their own travel insurance and ensure they meet all visa requirements for the field visit (including any visas participants may need while in transit to and from Costa Rica). UPEACE will provide documentation for your visa applications upon request.

Course instructors: The field course will be led by Ms. Adilia Caravaca (Costa Rica) and Prof. Mihir Kanade (India). Prof. Mihir Kanade will also instruct the 6-week e-learning course. Ms. Caravaca works in international development as a lawyer and consults on indigenous peoples' rights, as well as on gender, human rights, and peace and security issues. She has extensive work experience in the Talamanca region and is President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Prof. Mihir Kanade is the Director of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre and is a faculty member in the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE.

Course fee: US$ 2,375 (non-credit). The fee for the blended learning and field-based experience covers: tuition for the 6-week e-learning course; accommodation for 8 nights in Costa Rica (3 nights in Ciudad Colon, of which two nights will be spent with a host family immediately after arrival and before departure from the Juan Santamaria airport, 4 nights in Amubri, and 1 night in Puerto Viejo); transportation during the field visit (participant airfare and airport transfers are not included), meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner on all 8 days of the field visit in Costa Rica); and course materials.

Unfortunately, HREA and UPEACE do not have scholarship funding/grants available to support participation in the program.

Certificate: Upon successful completion of the e-learning and field-based components of the course, participants will receive a certificate issued jointly by the Human Rights Centre at UPEACE and HREA.

Accessibility: HREA and UPEACE seek to ensure our training programs are fully accessible for persons with disabilities and that everyone is able to participate on an equal basis with others. The conditions in the indigenous communities, however, including the roads and lodging may present obstacles to participation for some individuals. We ask that you please write to us directly with any questions or concerns about this aspect of the training program, as well as the specific types of accommodation you may need in order to participate.

Please note, it is possible to participate in only the e-learning or only the field components of this program.

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The program is limited to 25 participants; participants are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Register for 4th Annual Indigenous Peoples' Rights Course & Field Visit in Costa Rica (page will open in a new window).

For enquiries, please contact Nathaniel Weisenberg (Training Coordinator): +1 617 301-4323 or e-mail

Download flyer PDF (PDF)

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