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FAQs

You can find information about Survival’s history, our staff, governance, and the many public figures who support our work on our main “About us” page.

How do you describe yourselves?

Brave: We take on the big guys and win against the odds.
Realistic: We understand the huge challenges facing tribal people.
Credible: We are reliable, evidence-based, and worthy of confidence.
Effective: We are productive, responsive, and get results.

Why are you leaders in your field?

We are experts in tribal peoples’ rights. Since 1969, our specialists have fought with optimism to ensure that tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. They count many hundreds of years’ experience among them.

We are radical, visionary and uncompromising.

Our campaigns are ground-breaking and innovative.

We are trustworthy. We reject national government money because governments are the main violators of tribal peoples’ rights. We will not accept funds from corporations which might also violate tribal peoples’ rights. We value our integrity too much to be influenced by their priorities.

What do you think is the best way to ensure tribal peoples’ survival into the next century?

We believe public opinion is the only effective force which can bring permanent change, and so we want as many people as possible to know about tribal peoples and the problems they face. That’s why we need people like you to help grow the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights.

Isn’t your cause doomed?

Not at all: Many people believe that tribal peoples are doomed to disappear under the inexorable march of ‘progress’. But tribes are not destroyed as an inevitable result of history: they are victims of the criminal theft of their land and resources. If their lands are not stolen from under their feet, most are not fragile: they are just as capable of surviving and adapting to new circumstances as any of us.

Survival International has been at the forefront of hundreds of successful campaigns, and you can see just some of these concrete achievements in our news archive

Please take a look at our impact to see how our work is, more generally, making the world a better place for tribal peoples.

The anti-slavery movement fought against apparently insuperable odds and eventually permanently changed the ancient idea that slavery was both normal and good for all (including slaves). We aim to do the same for tribal peoples.

Do you represent tribal peoples?

Not unless they ask us to. More generally, we publicize their voices and consider them our partners. We provide a platform for their representatives to talk directly to an international audience, and help them interact face-to-face with companies and organizations violating their rights.

Our "Tribal Voice" project gives tribes communications technology so they can speak out to the world and break the silence that governments, multinationals and big conservation organizations try to impose on them.

Our loyalty is always primarily towards tribal peoples; we pass on any helpful information we have, and only accept information on that basis.

What do you think about FGM and other harmful practices?

We recognize that many societies, including some tribal ones, incorporate cruel practices which are not based on consent. We never condone them. Although some of these (such as female genital mutilation and infanticide) are used to attack tribal rights, this is wrong as they are also found in industrialized societies.

Who are your main opponents?

Governments and companies wanting to dispossess tribal peoples to take their land or resources.

Military forces wanting to control tribal areas.

Extremist religious organizations wanting to coerce tribal people into conversion, irrespective of the harm done.

Extremist conservationist organizations wanting to evict tribal peoples from ‘conservation zones’, or end their way of life.

Many of those who wrongly believe that only western civilization has brought improvements in wellbeing.

Those on the extreme left who believe everyone should be the same; those on the extreme right who think there is a single ‘correct’ way to live.

Are you against progress?

Not at all: we believe that all peoples change all the time, but that tribal peoples’ futures should be decided primarily by themselves. ‘Development’ which destroys people is not real progress. This position is now endorsed by the United Nations and international law, and we believe all countries must uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as ratify and apply the Indigenous & Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO 169). Both assert tribal peoples’ right to own their lands. Without this, all other human rights are denied them, because they will not survive.

What does the law say about your work?

International law and, in many cases, national law, is on our side. Companies and NGOs (including those involved in ‘conservation’) operating in tribal areas must adopt a binding commitment to take no action without the free, prior and informed consent of the tribal people concerned. Importantly, such consent can obviously never be free and informed unless the people are advised that they have the right to withhold their agreement without facing repercussions.

I’m convinced! How can I help you grow the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights?

Public opinion is the most powerful force for change – the only thing that will ensure tribal peoples’ survival into the next century. We need your money, energy and enthusiasm to help us grow our movement. We depend on you.

Setting up a monthly donation to Survival is the most fundamental way you can support our work. Regular donations allow us to plan our campaigns well in advance, confident in the knowledge of your regular support. We are able to spend less time on administration and fundraising, and more time researching, educating and protesting for the rights of tribal peoples around the world.

There are many other exciting ways to support us from fundraising through to becoming an e-campaigner. Find out more →

Please also sign up to our monthly email updates, which include the latest campaign developments, articles, films and breaking news, together with requests for your action when it's most needed.