‘The Earth Does Not Belong to Human Beings; Human Beings Belong to the Earth’, Permanent Forum Hears as It Takes Up Issues of Climate Change, Land Tenure
‘The Earth Does Not Belong to Human Beings; Human Beings Belong to the Earth’, Permanent Forum Hears as It Takes Up Issues of Climate Change, Land Tenure
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)
‘THE EARTH DOES NOT BELONG TO HUMAN BEINGS; HUMAN BEINGS BELONG TO THE EARTH’,
PERMANENT FORUM HEARS AS IT TAKES UP ISSUES OF CLIMATE CHANGE, LAND TENURE
Department of Economic, Social Affairs Chief Warns Financial Crisis to Pitch
Indigenous Peoples into Uphill Battle over Safeguarding Their Natural Resources
All of humanity must work together to re-establish harmony and unity with the natural environment by implementing the Kyoto Protocol and creating a global governance system that respected and supported vegetable, mineral, animal, human and cosmic life, Nicolas Lucas Ticum, a Maya priest from Guatemala and a researcher on the Calendario Maya, told the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues today, as it continued its eighth session.
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Governments must recognize the sustainable development that indigenous people have been promoting for centuries”, Mr. Lucas Ticum said, adding that “The Earth does not belong to human beings. Human beings belong to the Earth.”
The Kyoto Protocol followed the Maya tenet of balance with nature and all living beings as necessary for sustaining the well-being of the planet and current and future generations of mankind, he said. Global leaders planned to review the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, the same year as the thirteenth B’Aqtun of the Maya people -– a year which, according to Maya wisdom, would usher in a new era of respect for others, love, solidarity and brotherhood. But that transition would require a spiritual strength that humanity had so far wasted at its own peril.
He said that most Western countries had embraced dogmatic, egoistic approaches to commerce and trade that had gradually eroded the quality of life of most people, destroying the planet’s biological, linguistic and cultural diversity, its ecosystems and genetic heritage. That line of thinking, which had caused climate change and mass-scale environmental degradation, must change. He called on the Commission on Sustainable Development to review and adapt concepts about the environment, natural resources, development and economics, including those based on the age-old experience of indigenous people. And he called on all people to care for the planet by building sustainable development alliances and strategies, and on the scientific and research community to “recognize the spiritual dimensions of human beings, the connection and interconnectedness of all the elements of the universe and scientific pluralism”.
Echoing those concerns, Forum Chairperson Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, member from the Philippines, called for a human rights-based approach to development that integrated indigenous peoples’ concerns and strategies into the design of responses to climate change. “We don’t see the climate change crisis and the global economic crisis as separate things”, she said, adding that they were caused by the same economic model of extensive market liberalization that disregarded such internationally agreed social goals as full employment and human rights protection. “The market is always right” was the thinking that had prevailed in economic policies of developed and developing countries alike, while labour rights were ignored and violated, and the power of transnational corporations, particularly in the extractive sector, was emboldened.
The economic crisis had also spurred spending for infrastructure development, with the World Bank increasing loans for infrastructure projects from $15 billion to $45 billion in 2009, she said. Planned road and hydro-electric dam construction projects on traditional lands -– particularly in the Philippines and India -- would displace indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent. Canada’s plans to expand Highway 30 in Quebec would result in the appropriation of traditional lands, while the Can$ 16.2 billion Mackenzie Valley pipeline project would directly impact indigenous peoples. Those policies had deepened the poverty of indigenous communities, and subjected them to greater threats to land loss, destruction of their traditional livelihoods, economic and food insecurity, and decreased access to health care and other social services.
Jomo Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the global financial crisis had created major challenges and serious social consequences. The International Labour Organization (ILO) expected the number of working poor to increase by 200 million, and those formally unemployed to rise by more than 50 million. Government social spending was at risk and there was growing unrest, as living standards and social protections declined, and extreme poverty rose. While everyone could work together to bring about sustainable solutions, cooperation was lacking. Indigenous peoples would face an uphill battle over protection of their natural resources, particularly water. Indigenous peoples were the custodians of land, water and a variety of other resources, but water was becoming a commodity, rather than an obligation of Governments, and indigenous people would find themselves under a lot of pressure.
Also speaking today were observers for Guatemala, Indonesia, Ecuador and Suriname.
China’s delegate spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
Forum members from Morocco, Philippines, Australia, Iran, Sweden and Norway also spoke.
A representative of the Inter-American Development Bank also delivered a statement.
Representatives from the following organizations also spoke: Southeast Indigenous Peoples Centre, Comisión Jurídica para el Autodesarrollo de los Pueblos Originarios Andinos (CAPAJ), Center for Hawaiian Studies, Communidad Campesina de Tauria, Indigenous Land Corporation, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, Tribal Link Foundation, Centro de Cultura Pueblo Nación Mapuche Pelonxaru, National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Yamasi People, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (also on behalf of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network and the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact), and Land Is Life (also on behalf of El Molo Forum, MAWEED, MPIDO, Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network).
Other organizations represented were: Parlamento Indígena de América, Onondaga Nation, Seventh Generation Fund, Caribbean Indigenous Caucus for the Greater Caribbean, Pacific Caucus, National Native Title Council, Francophone Caucus, Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus, Federación de Asociaciones de Comunidades Guaranís de la Región Oriental de Paraguay, Amazigh Caucus, Commissao Nacional da Terra Guarani Yvy Rupa, Brazil, Indigenous World Association, Indigenous Network on Economics and Trade and the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, Tebtebba Foundation, Friends of the Coquihalla (also on behalf of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade), Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation, Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council, African Caucus, Pueblo Kichwa Salasaka, Unión Nacional de Traductores Indígenas, Autonomía Eraiki, Comunidad Integradora del Saber Andino Cisa, Movimiento Acción y Resistencia MAR, World Council of Churches, American Indian Law Alliance, and Land Is Life.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 28 May, to continue its session.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues continued its eighth annual session today, in which delegations were to take up agenda item 7 –- on the Forum’s future work, including issues of the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues. It had before it Special Rapporteurs’ reports on climate change and land tenure. The day would include a panel discussion with United Nations experts on the impacts of the financial and economic crisis on indigenous peoples.
Featured in this morning’s panel were Jomo Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Nicolas Lucas Ticum, Maya priest and researcher on the Calendario Maya; and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Permanent Forum Chairperson and member from the Philippines.
Taking the floor first, Mr. SUNDARAM said it was important to recognize that the global financial crisis was anticipated. It stemmed, in part, from policies in last three decades that minimized regulation, created inappropriate legislation and failed to enhance economic welfare, which eventually victimized developing countries. Responses to it had been dominated by the most powerful countries in the world and involved double standards.
He said it was also useful to recognize that the underlying phenomenon -– globalization -- was financial, rather than trade, globalization. Financial globalization had grown more rapidly than trade integration, but that had not contributed to increased growth. Rather, it had resulted in lower growth of investments across boarders, and it had created problems. By opening up, countries had lost funds, the costs of which were not lower. Plus, there had been higher volatility. In addition, research found that the crisis had spread through the financial sector, within the “real economy”, and from the financial sector to the real economy in ways involving “interactive loops”.
That, in turn, had created a deflationary spiral, whereby asset prices had collapsed and domestic demand had plummeted, he explained. Developing country stock markets had collapsed, which had created a significant reversal of capital flows that might have gone to developing countries and boosted borrowing costs.
By way of contrast, he said that following economic events at the end of the 1970s, developing countries had continued to grow rapidly, while the West had experienced speculation, characterized by low economic growth and high inflation. Today, however, the fates of both were inextricably intertwined. Developing countries were experiencing a downturn and would likely see a significant drop in growth in 2009 versus last year. This year, more than 100 countries would see their economies contract -- 60 of which were developing nations, 33 were developed and 14 were economies in transition. “This is a completely unprecedented situation since the 1930s”, he stressed.
Moreover, he said, world trade would likely collapse by 10 per cent this year, leaving developing country exports exposed to risk. A drop in those exports would result in “global imbalances”. The trade impacts for developing countries would be seen in declining exports, falling terms of trade and a sharp rundown of trade surpluses. The only silver lining would be continued decline in food prices.
The social impacts were also serious, he warned. The International Labour Organization (ILO) expected the number of working poor to increase by 200 million, and those formally unemployed to rise by more than 50 million. The situation had worsened since last November. Government social spending was at risk, and there was growing unrest. The greatest security threat to the world came from the crisis, and not terrorism. Living standards were declining, marked by decreased spending on social protections, making migrant workers especially vulnerable. Remittances would likely decline, and extreme poverty rise. While there was the possibility of working together to bring about sustainable solutions, cooperation was lacking.
As had been learned in the past, jobs did not recover as fast as nations would like, he said. In the 2001 crisis, for example, that lag had lasted almost four years. This time around, that lag could be compounded by a failure to act and a failure to coordinate. With enough political will, people could act together to solve problems, but the likelihood of that was “very slim”. Efforts surrounding the creation of the United Nations at the end of the Second World War were badly needed today to sustain growth, employment and development. Unfortunately, the focus now was only on achieving financial stability. The United Nations needed the support of the global community to ensure that solutions were sustainable and systemic.
He said the biggest challenge for indigenous peoples was that of natural resources. Indeed, indigenous peoples were the custodians of land, water and a variety of other resources. In that struggle, water would figure prominently. Water was becoming a commodity, rather than an obligation of Governments, and indigenous would find themselves under a lot of pressure.
Mr. LUCAS TICUM said 21 December 2010 marked the beginning of the thirteenth B’Aqtun Maya. The B’Aqtun was equivalent to 5,200 years, based on a 360-day year. According to Maya wisdom, the thirteenth B’Aqtun meant a change for humanity. It meant a new era in which respect for the self and for others was valued, as was love, solidarity and brotherhood. It was important to think about the future of the human race and Mother Earth. Mother Earth was alive; she was the mother of all beings that coexisted on the planet. All elements of the universe were alive and very closely connected. Human beings were integral to Mother Earth, and their mission was to ensure balance, unity, harmony and complementarity.
“Earth does not belong to human beings. Human beings belong to the Earth”, he said. In 1885, Chief Seattle said that what happened to the Earth would happen as well to its children. However, the utilitarian and economic philosophical concepts reflected in polices, programmes and plans of many Western countries had meant that human beings were losing their true sense of what it meant to be human. They were involved in a gradual process in which the quality of life of most people on Earth had declined, owing to a dogmatic, rationalist, egoistic and exclusive approach. That irrational trade system had caused the decline of biodiversity and genetic heritage. Life on Earth was threatened by environmental degradation, climate change, and the loss of biological, cultural and linguistic diversity.
He called on Governments, universities, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and large corporations that had controlled international economics and politics to chart a new course in support of vegetable, mineral, animal, human and cosmic life. “It’s urgent that universities and scientific research centres recognize the spiritual dimensions of human beings, the connection and interconnectedness of all the elements of the universe and scientific pluralism.” Large multinational corporations, Governments and United Nations organs must recognize that much of the imbalance, climate change, global warming, environmental crisis and threat to biological and cultural diversity was the result of the current financial, monetary and commercial system.
“The IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Governments must recognize the sustainable development that indigenous people have been promoting for centuries towards a good life and well-being, and respect vegetable, mineral, animal, human and cosmic life”, he said. It was urgent to recognize the “economic pluralism”, or productive models of indigenous peoples’ cultures. He called on them to embrace a system of scientific, juridical, political, economic, social, cultural, linguistic and religious pluralism so that all could enjoy a life of dignity, well-being and respect.
He also called on the Commission on Sustainable Development to review and adapt concepts about the environment, natural resources, development and economics, and to include concepts originating from the thinking and age-old experience of indigenous people. He appealed to the human race to revitalize wisdom, knowledge and efforts to take care of Mother Earth, biological and cultural diversity, genetic heritage, ecosystems and the right to self-determination. He called on them to build alliances, coalitions and strategies to promote the sustainable development at all levels of life, which would respect animal, mineral, human and cosmic life and ensure the future of mankind.
States and Governments alike must make a global effort to implement the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, he said. The Kyoto Protocol was in line with indigenous peoples’ vision of the balance necessary for life. The Protocol would be reviewed in 2012, the same year as the thirteenth B’Aqtun of the Maya people. The challenges were huge because all of humanity must act together. The transition of the thirteenth B’Aqtun would require a spiritual strength that humanity had so far wasted. Humanity would suffer consequences if everyone did not act together. “So let us all walk together towards the new B’Aqtun. On this path, we need to support life, balance and harmony for all human beings and the rest of the beings in the universe”, he urged.
Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ said the crisis had been caused by extensive market liberalization. Internationally agreed social goals -– full employment, human rights protection, among them -– had been delinked from economic policies. It was a period of growing inequality. There had been significant changes in State-market relations. “The market is always right” thinking prevailed in economic policies of developed and developing countries alike, following the advice of international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. Labour rights violations had been extensive, and there had been a rise in influence of transnational corporations, particularly in the extractive sector.
She said that nations most adversely affected by the crisis were those that opened up to the global economy. Impacts had reverberated through indigenous communities and were characterized by increased poverty; an increased threat of losing lands and homes; destruction of traditional livelihoods; economic insecurity; food insecurity; increases in extractive activities; and decreased access to health care and other social services.
The crisis was also characterized by an increase in infrastructure spending, she said, noting that the World Bank would increase loans for infrastructure from $15 billion to $45 billion in 2009. Projects such as roads and hydro-electric dams were being planned across traditional lands and would displace indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent. That type of planning was particularly evident in the Philippines and India.
Citing an example in the North, she said Canada would spend Can$ 33 billion for several years under the “Building Canada Fund”. Some Can$ 150 million would be used to expand Highway 97, part of the corridor that ran through Manitoba under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). That would increase mining, oil and gas activities. Work on Highway 30 in Quebec would result in the appropriation of traditional lands. The Mackenzie Valley pipeline would cost Can$ 16.2 billion, and indigenous peoples would be directly impacted.
In light of such cases, she said a human rights-based approach to development must be ensured and indigenous peoples must be integrated into the design of the responses. That should be linked with the responses to climate change. “We don’t see the climate change crisis and the global economic crisis as separate things”, she said, adding that they were caused by the same economic model. As such, they should be addressed in an integrated manner.
Statement by Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Land Tenure
MICK DODSON, Forum member from Australia and the Forum’s Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Land Tenure, presented “A draft guide on the relevant principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention No. 169 and ILO Convention No. 107, which related to indigenous land tenure and management arrangements (document E/C.19/2009/CRP.7). Mr. Dodson’s mandate was to help indigenous peoples, States and United Nations agencies in negotiating such arrangements.
He said the paper summarized the compatibility of the Declaration with the two ILO Conventions in terms of their overarching principles that States and United Nations agencies must seriously consider or adhere to when engaging with indigenous peoples about their land tenure interests and management arrangements. As that was still an emerging area of customary international law, there were some notable differences between the first and latest instruments, particularly the welfare-based approach of Convention No. 107 compared to the rights-based approach of Convention No. 169 and the Declaration.
He went on to explain that the paper examined the indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination; their full and direct consultation and participation; free, prior and informed consent; their right to traditional lands, waters, territories and resources; the principle of respect for indigenous cultural practices, traditions, laws and institutions; the right to reparation for injury to or loss of indigenous interests; the right to non-discrimination against indigenous peoples’ interests; and the principle of respect for the rule of law.
Comments and Questions
LORI JOHNSTON, Southeast Indigenous Peoples Centre, wondered if there was coordination with other United Nations agencies to create a coherent response to the global crisis.
HASSAN ID BALKASSM, Forum member from Morocco, said it was important to consider a dialogue between revealed and metaphysical religions. Second, on the impacts of the world crisis on indigenous peoples, he said free trade agreements had been reached. Governments had given traditional lands to corporations, making indigenous peoples more vulnerable to risks. The Forum’s recommendations to the June conference on the financial crisis must highlight the need for States to respect a minimum of values outlined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He suggested that the Forum make a recommendation on the issue of carbon emissions.
TOMAS ALARCON, Comisi ón Jur ídica para el Autodesarrollo de los Pueblos Originarios Andinos (CAPAJ), said indigenous peoples had not contributed to climate change. But he suggested creating a mechanism to assess their contribution to environmental stability and investigate the possibility that they be compensated.
LILIKALA KAME’ELEIHIWA, Center for Hawaiian Studies, asked the Forum to send a report to the United States Government. President Barak Obama needed to understand how climate change was impacting the world.
ELSA SON CHONAY, observer for Guatemala and Guatemalan Vice-Minister of Culture, said indigenous people of Guatemala had made progress. Despite that more than 50 per cent of the indigenous population of Guatemala lived in poverty, they contributed to forest maintenance and creation of a healthy environment.
MIGUEL IBAÑEZ, Communidad Campesina de Tauria, said there must be a focus on indigenous peoples in the discussion of climate change.
In response, Mr. LUCAS TICUM said much of the great wisdom accumulated by the Maya had been destroyed during the invasion of Maya land. It was necessary to study what had come before. The Maya wisdom on math and the movement of space was written in codices bequeathed to the current generation. Some of it was destroyed. It was necessary to complete that body of work, but it was difficult for the Maya to do so because they were poor.
SHIRLEY MCPHERSON, Chairperson, Indigenous Land Corporation, Australia, said the achievements of the indigenous land rights movement in Australia were significant. Indigenous land owners now owned or managed approximately 20 per cent of the Australian continent. Thanks to the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights ( Northern Territory) Act, about half of the land in the Northern Territory was owned by Aboriginal people. The 1993 Native Title Act set up processes through which native title could be recognized and it provided protection for native title rights and interests. Native title could not be transferred, bought or sold. The 1993 Act also contained provisions for indigenous land use agreements. Those voluntary agreements were made with native title parties about the use and management of land and water.
Where possible, land use and ownership issues should be resolved through mediation and negotiation, rather than litigation, she said. The Government remained committed to improving outcomes for indigenous peoples, not only by recognizing their rights to land, but also by ensuring that those rights provided lasting economic and social benefits. Indigenous communities must be able to better leverage their land assets and native title rights. The Government was committed to helping native title holders and indigenous land owners maximize sustainable benefits from their land. Land arrangements in townships on indigenous land must encourage investment to foster individual and community economic development. Land arrangements should create conditions for indigenous communities to prosper in terms of employment and economic opportunities, as well as in the social and cultural realms. The Indigenous Land Corporation was creating those opportunities in partnership with indigenous organizations, industry groups and other agencies.
HAFID ABBAS, observer for Indonesia, said he valued the Forum as a constructive arena for indigenous peoples. Indonesia had more than 400 ethnic groups, and it was that diversity that united the country. It enriched the culture and was a source of strength, inspiration, knowledge and moderation. Since the end of the last decade, Indonesia had transformed into a democratic nation and one which protected human rights. A new political development strategy had empowered regions and ethnic groups to address their economic needs and socio-economic challenges. Efforts did not stop there. Indonesia was strongly committed to working on climate change issues, as reflected in its contribution at the 2007 Bali climate change conference.
At the same time, he said Indonesia was not immune to flaws, and more needed to be done. The Forum provided countries with an opportunity “to listen and to learn”. It could promote partnerships for the betterment of societies. In discussing the Forum’s future work, continued improvement of its working methods was key to its success. The concept of free, prior and informed consent must be made at each stage of the Forum’s decision-making process. He was certain the secretariat would uphold its duty to maintain countries’ trust and display accountability.
CRAIG CROMELIN, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, was concerned at the Australian Government’s proposal to link the provision of housing services with existing land tenure arrangements. The statutory recognition of land rights in New South Wales had been among the most positive developments in the colonial history of Australia. While land rights was critical to providing social and economic development for Aboriginal people in New South Wales, such goals could not arise at the expense of surrendering hard-fought rights to land. “Our rights to land are not a commodity that can be traded in return for the enjoyment of fundamental citizenship rights”, he said.
With that, he reaffirmed that housing and land tenure were separate issues. To combine them in the name of Aboriginal economic and social development was overtly aggressive and counter-productive. It would not provide Governments with assurances they sought with respect to enhancing and managing assets. As such, he called on all levels of Government to help build the capacity required within Aboriginal organizations to perform their asset and tenancy management duties. Developing strategies to support those organizations would lead to more substantial outcomes. He welcomed the Forum’s focus on land tenure, which must remain a critical aspect of its ongoing work.
SANTIAGO CHIRIBOGA, observer from Ecuador, said his country was vulnerable to climate change, as seen in phenomena like El Niño, following which Ecuador had created a research centre. Ecuador’s greenhouse gasses contributed only marginally to global warming, but, under the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities, Ecuador had underwritten instruments, including the Kyoto Protocol. Such instruments allowed the Government to create clear guidelines on changing consumption and production patterns, but that had not led to the relevant countries taking on responsibilities for their emissions.
For its part, Ecuador had promoted institutional and policy reform in various ways, he said. It had declared 700,000 hectares of a park as protected from mining and forest exploitation. An Ecuadorian institute for development of the Amazon undertook various efforts, including the transfer of technologies to Amazonian actors to promote a good standard of living. In so doing, it would consider the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He urged the Forum to endorse that initiative as a model for other countries.
The Forum then returned to its agenda item on human rights and opened the floor to comments from participants.
JETHRO TULIN, Executive Officer of Akali Tange Association, Papua New Guinea, said that in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the Ipili and Engan people had seen their traditions turned upside down by the influence of a large-scale mining project. In one generation, the mine had brought militarization, corruption, and environmental devastation to a land that had previously known only subsistence farming and alluvial mining. He urged the Forum and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights, John Ruggie, to continue their dialogue on that issue. The actions of transnational corporations must be constantly monitored. Three weeks ago, the Papua New Guinea Government unleashed a “state of emergency”, a military and police operation that saw the destruction of hundreds of indigenous landowners’ homes surrounding the open pit mine directly nearby.
He called on the Forum to write urgently to the Government of Papua New Guinea and to Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada to urgently halt the state of emergency and the destruction of peoples’ homes. And he called on the Forum to endorse the recommendations of the report of the March 2009 Expert Group Meeting on extractive industries, indigenous peoples’ rights and corporate social responsibility, and to follow up by sending the findings to corporations, including Barrick Gold.
GULNARA ABBASOVA, Tribal Link Foundation, said indigenous peoples’ rights were still ignored, making it very difficult to implement the Declaration. Many States failed to even recognize the text. She urged the Forum to recommend to the Economic and Social Council to call on Governments to implement the Declaration and to recognize the original inhabitants of their nations as indigenous peoples with full rights. She also urged the Forum to take capacity-building steps so that indigenous people could be informed about the Declaration. It should also hold a workshop on decolonization.
GUIDO CONEJEROS MELIMAN, Centro de Cultura Pueblo Naci ón Mapuche Pelonxaru, said the Mapuche people of Chile were committed to preserving Mother Earth, nature and their traditional way of life. Multinational corporations and the Chilean Government were not respecting their rights. Ratification of ILO Convention No. 169 was really just an illustration of a paternalistic spirit and a return to colonization. The Mapuche were not Chilean; they had their own passport. Nor did they want the intervention of the Chilean Government. Rather, they wanted to live in peace and in accordance with their traditional way of life and the Declaration.
JANINE GERTZ, National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia, commending Australia’s endorsement of the Declaration, said the Government’s duties were mirrored in its principles. She was concerned at the ambiguous nature of that support, especially in Australia’s understanding of the right to free, prior and informed consent, which was inconsistent with existing international law. Australian’s rights should be established in line with all human rights instruments that it signed.
She said a critical challenge was in setting benchmarks, which required commitment and collaboration by all actors under the Forum’s leadership. Benchmarks should not be seen as way to criticize the Government. They could add value to public policy. Indigenous peoples claimed to have a collective right to self-determination, based on the understanding that they were best placed to make the decisions that most impacted their lives. The Forum should undertake a consultative process to consider ways that the Declaration could be used to develop more effective models of engagement. It should also engage with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to guide indigenous peoples on their rights under article 23.
CELESTE MCKAY, Native Women’s Association of Canada, said she was concerned at the Canadian Government’s gap in protecting human rights of indigenous peoples. Economic and well-being indicators were consistently lower among Aboriginal people than other sectors of society. On recommendations made at the end of Canada’s periodic review, Canada had failed to engage in meaningful dialogue on how to follow up on those recommendations; the Government had simply restated how it was fulfilling its obligations. She sought Canada’s commitment to work collaboratively with indigenous peoples to narrow the gap. Part of Canada’s commitment included a culturally relevant gender-based analysis of laws that might affect women’s rights. She encouraged all States to endorse and implement the Declaration and urged the Forum to collaborate with States and women’s organizations in the creation of gender-based analysis tools.
LORI JOHNSTON, Yamasi People, asked that the United States stop attacking Yamasi women, children and elders. Her people used violence to protect themselves from colonial violence. They tried to engage the United States in peace talks. Yamasi from aged 8 days to 88 years had been spied on. They had suffered imprisonment, brainwashing and rape, among other things. The United States had terrorized them into silence. She urged that country to stop recording Yamasi as federalized indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent and called on the Forum to denounce rape and other colonial war crimes against indigenous peoples.
ENHABATU TOGOCHOG, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre, in a statement delivered by Ms. Abbasova, said the Chinese Government had carried out State-sponsored massacres. Mongolian Nomadic peoples had been impacted by the unsustainable farming practices of 12 million Chinese immigrants, while China stated that environmental degradation was caused by the “backward” Mongolian way of life. Also, the Chinese Government had set up a “Livestock Prohibition Team” to confiscate the livestock of Mongolian herders, who were being detained and beaten daily. China declared that Inner Mongolia had become an energy base, and Mongolians had been displaced without their free, prior and informed consent. China had signed the Declaration without considering its 55 indigenous peoples’ groups as “indigenous”. As such, she asked the Forum what mechanism it had in place to ensure that China respected and protected indigenous peoples within its borders.
JOJI CARIÑO, Cordillera Peoples Alliance, also speaking on behalf of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network and the Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact, said that 100 years ago, the lands of the Ibaloy had been confiscated to create Baguio City, in the Philippines, a hill station for the colonial United States Government and a rest and recreation site for colonial soldiers. Vast tracts of lands were declared as Government reservations. Rapid urbanization displaced the Ibaloy from their ancestral lands and opened the gates for migrant settlers. The Ibaloy were now a marginalized minority in Baguio City. Her great grandfather, Mateo Cariño, an Ibaloy, had filed a case that reached the United States Supreme Court, which had ruled against his right to his ancestral lands. The Cariño decision on native title had established a legal doctrine, which had been the foundation of the 1997 Philippine Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA). That law recognized “ancestral domain”, or ownership of land established through collective memories and custom law, and the fact that for indigenous peoples, land ownership was not given by formal titles, but was claimed by use and inheritance since time immemorial.
But in Baguio City itself, the Cariño doctrine had never been implemented, she said. Camp John Hay Recreation Base, which was established on the Ibaloy’s ancestral homeland, was still in the hands of private developers, and many Ibaloy lands remained classified as Government reservations. There were conspicuous irregularities and anomalies in the processing of ancestral land and domain claims by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). She appealed to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples to investigate those serious violations of human rights and recommend corrective measures to uphold the rights of the indigenous Ibaloy people. She made the same appeal to the Forum’s Philippine members.
EUGENIO A. INSIGNE, Forum member from the Philippines, commented on a case brought before the Forum that involved two clans fighting over land. That was a private case. Both parties had claimed land on the basis of native title -– but mere invocation of native title did not give one party the right to land over the other. A decision on the case had been made by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, based on the law and evidence submitted by both parties. Though not present for that decision, he had been a lawyer for 30 years, and after reviewing the decision, he supported it.
Right of Reply
Exercising his right of reply, ZHOU LING YU, observer for China, said a so-called representative from an organization in Southern Mongolia had attacked China’s policies in Inner Mongolia. That statement was “totally far” from reality and fact, and in total ignorance of the Government’s achievements in ethnic minority areas. There was no foundation for such attacks on China’s policies towards ethnic minority groups. That was a challenge to China’s sovereignty.
As such, he strongly demanded that the Forum be more careful in screening organizations that participated in its discussions, so that State sovereignty and territorial integrity were not encroached upon. China was a multi-ethnic country with some 50 ethnic minority groups. All were equal and their legitimate rights were guaranteed equally by the country. China protected their identity, including in social and religious terms, and guaranteed their participation in health, the social sphere, education and employment. China was committed to protecting them, in line with its laws, and had adopted special preferential measures to foster poverty alleviation in regions with ethnic minorities. China was committed to working together to build a prosperous, strong, civilized and harmonious nation.
JUSTA CABRERA FLORES, Land Is Life, El Molo Forum, MAWEED, MPIDO, Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network, said she also represented the Guaraní people from Bolivia. The most persistent violations were those affecting economic, social and cultural rights, in connection with the use of land and natural resources. Globally, indigenous peoples were unable to exercise their rights; many had been displaced from their lands and forced to concede to multinational corporations.
She recommended that mechanisms be found between the Indonesian Government and peoples of Papua, and that the Government repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958. She urged Ecuador to declare a moratorium on new oil activities and to respect the rights of those living in voluntary isolation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Peru must withdraw its military presence in Amazon, engage in dialogue with indigenous communities, and cancel the bidding for lots 39, 67 and 107 to protect people living in voluntary isolation in those areas. Finally, she called on Bolivia to develop a settlement plan for those who had achieved legal recognition of their territories. The Forum must coordinate its efforts with indigenous peoples, within existing mechanisms.
Mr. BALKASSM, Forum member from Morocco, discussed a paper on climate change as it affected indigenous peoples, noting that he and Ms. Tauli-Corpuz had been elected as rapporteurs to study policies on climate change.
PAIMANACH HASTEH, Forum member from Iran, said the impact of climate change mitigation measures highlighted the extent to which climate change threatened indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples’ participation in creating policies was “deficient”. In discussions on climate change, it was important that they be considered equal in relation to other peoples. In that context, she also stressed the importance of freedom from discrimination; respect for and promotion of indigenous peoples’ rights; respect for free, prior and informed consent; and their participation in all stages of decision-making.
She said that standards and adherence of climate change policies to standards set forth in the Declaration would be elaborated in the report to be presented at the next session. Also to be considered was the binding or optional nature of the Declaration; the importance of respecting indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination in the context of climate change policies; the right to maintain and develop legal, political and social institutions; the right to participate in political life; and the right to recognize treaties and agreements in the context of the Declaration’s article 27.
Chairperson TAULI-CORPUZ added that she and Lars Anders Baer, Forum member from Sweden, were working on another report on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, entitled “The Road towards Copenhagen and Beyond”. It was not yet complete, as they wanted to include the results from various events held since last year, notably in Africa, Latin America and the United States.
Picking up from there, Mr. BAER described some of the recommendations from the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group. Among the recommendations were recognition of the importance of knowledge-sharing, traditional knowledge for adaptation efforts and capacity-building to support young scientists from reindeer-herding communities.
Ms. TAULI-CORPUZ added that the “Road Towards Copenhagen and Beyond” report would stress the merit of raising awareness of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It would also emphasize the need to document the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples, and the importance of indigenous people’s ability to implement their own vision of development.
She said the report would also incorporate points outlined at the global summit on climate change and indigenous peoples -– held in Anchorage, Alaska, in April -- on how indigenous peoples wished to be engaged in climate change. It would suggest the following: the convening of regular technical briefings during climate change negotiations; improved engagement of the Forum and its regional focal points in an advisory role; establishment of indigenous focal points in the context of the Climate Change Convention; appointment of indigenous peoples to funding mechanisms for the Convention; and the launch of necessary measures to ensure that local communities helped monitor mitigation and adaptation activities.
MIRIAM ANGELA MAC INTOSH, observer for Suriname, said more than enough evidence was available about the devastating effects of climate change. No country or people would be spared. There was a global duty to find solutions. Suriname, a low-lying State, was feeling the impact of global climate change, prompting the Government to take adaptation measures. Ninety per cent of Suriname was covered by forests, and it had great potential to contribute to the process of mitigating climate change. Suriname must be included in international forest and carbon trading regimes. She was extremely disappointed that the recently concluded eighth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests had not concluded with a decision to create a global fund to finance sustainable forest management.
CARLOS PERAFAN, Inter-American Development Bank, said that for some years there had been paradigm that called for privatizing the collective land of indigenous peoples based on the notion that embracing a market economy would lift indigenous peoples out of poverty. A few years ago, a study was done to see if that market economy model had been successful, in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru and Honduras. The thinking was that land privatization would bring greater investment, access to credit, and result in greater revenue and markets. In all four countries, no representative evidence was found to support those assumptions. It was important to point that out, since many Governments and markets had embraced those assumptions as a matter of policy. Climate change was a cross-cutting issue, but, regrettably, land management models had failed to take into account indigenous peoples’ respect for land.
WENCESLAO HERRERA, Parlamento Ind ígena de Am érica, said indigenous peoples must have a greater say in decision-making. He called for programmes and partnerships that prioritized culturally-relevant education and utilized the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, as well as for respect and adherence to the principle of free, prior and informed consent. He also called for the creation of mechanisms to monitor compliance with that consent and with prohibitions against the presence of transnational mining corporations in indigenous peoples’ territories. Such corporations never made reparations for the damage they caused to Mother Earth and to indigenous people. Instead, they repeatedly violated fundamental freedoms.
OREN LYONS, speaking on behalf of the Onondaga Nation and the Seventh Generation Fund, said that during the Forum’s eight sessions, questions around a doctrine of discovery had been raised. He recommended that the Forum carry out a study on that doctrine. It should also ask the North American Caucus to submit a report on that doctrine in 2010.
MILDRED KARAIRA, Caribbean Indigenous Caucus for the Greater Caribbean, expressed concern at the lack of support for her people in the Forum’s sessions. Her delegation had sent recommendations to the Forum that had been largely ignored. She recommended that the Forum advocate for their inclusion in the inter-agency support group at all future sessions and support work. She urged the Economic and Social Council to expand the Forum’s representation to include Caribbean indigenous representatives. As noted, many States failed to recognize indigenous peoples within their borders. She recommended that the Forum’s ninth session sponsor an expert seminar to examine the impact of the United Nations decolonization process in Non-Self-Governing Territories.
NGIARE BROWN, Pacific Caucus, said it was important to promote discussion and research on the cultural determinants of health, namely: access to and use of traditional land; preservation of language; and cultural integrity. She recommended that the World Health Organization (WHO) be among those to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with the Forum in 2010, and that the Forum, the Economic and Social Council and States engage with the World Health Assembly to develop an integrated global agenda on indigenous peoples’ health; and that the WHO and United Nations agencies develop themed reports specific to indigenous health.
BRIAN WYATT, National Native Title Council and other regional organizations in Australia, said the Forum should recommend the creation of a United Nations rapporteur on climate change and human rights. It should also urge the Human Rights Council to call for a special session on climate change. And it should encourage the creation of an official United Nations Day on “climate justice” on 1 October and consider the possibility of devoting a Decade to that topic. Additionally, it should sponsor a series of expert workshops on climate change and human rights and, finally, recommend immediate action to provide infrastructure for low-lying islands in the Pacific.
SAUDATA ABOUBACRINE, Francophone Caucus, said the countries she represented would welcome the arrival of a special rapporteur in conflict areas and the translation of the Declaration into various languages. She called on Governments to include, in their primary and secondary education, climate change information.
SYLVIA ESCARCEGA, Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus, recommended that the Forum urge States, transnational corporations and others to ensure free, prior and informed consent, particularly among indigenous women. She also urged the Forum to set traditional knowledge as a future main theme of its work and to study the Declaration’s implementation in the context of traditional indigenous knowledge. She also recommended initiating a gender-based analysis of the Declaration’s implementation. Moreover, the Forum should study human rights and fundamental freedoms of unrepresented peoples, as they had no access to collective or tribal rights. Commending the Forum for studying indigenous women migrants, she requested that disaggregated data be sought for indigenous migration.
ANGEL VERA SALES, Federaci ón de Asociaciones de Comunidades Guaran ís de la Regi ón Oriental de Paraguay, said it was important that all indigenous peoples show their interest in achieving social development based on cultural plurality. All must demand public policies based on indigenous peoples’ vision of the world. He congratulated the peoples of Bolivia and Ecuador on what they had achieved, and requested recommendations for Paraguay.
LATIFA DOUCH, Amazigh Caucus, said Governments did not have an interest in their duties to her people. The Caucus called on the Forum to encourage regional States to start implementing the Declaration; ensure that States cooperated with the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples; encourage States to create national legislation that was in line with international law; and to intercede as a mediator between Governments and indigenous peoples in cases of emergency.
MARIO VALDEZ, Commissao Nacional da Terra Guarani Yvy Rupa, Brazil, speaking on behalf of organizations in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, said States recognized indigenous peoples’ rights in their constitutions and laws, but did not respect obligations assumed at international forums. There was a lack of political will and that affected indigenous peoples’ access to land. Industries moving forward did so without regard to indigenous peoples. For centuries, his region had suffered the pillage of its resources. Indigenous peoples, particularly in Argentina, resented the violent activities of the Government. He asked the Forum to urge States to comply with article 26 of the Declaration and to see to it that those commitments were carried out. Indigenous peoples needed land for their economic, social, political and spiritual development. There should be guidelines for both States and companies for repairing damage done to traditional lands.
KENNETH DEER, speaking on behalf of the Indigenous World Association, Indigenous Network on Economics and Trade and the Native Women’s Association of Canada, said the Durban Review Conference had ended with significant references to indigenous peoples in its outcome document. Four paragraphs mentioned indigenous peoples -– they dealt with the elimination of barriers to political, economic, social and cultural spheres. Paragraph 73 welcomed the adoption of the indigenous peoples’ Declaration. That was critical because the Durban Declaration of 2001 stated that the term “indigenous peoples” could not be construed as having implications under international law, which was discriminatory. That redundancy should not go unrecognized. The Durban outcome could help in the fight against racism. He asked the Forum to consider holding a half-day session on “Addressing racism against indigenous peoples and the Durban Plan of Action”, in 2011.
MRINAL KANTI TRIPURA, Asia Indigenous Peoples Caucus, said the agenda items on implementation of the Declaration, the dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, and the dialogue with six United Nations agencies were effective innovations, and they should be placed on the Forum’s permanent agenda. The time allotted for the dialogue with each United Nations agency and fund, however, was too short, and he requested that it be increased from two to three hours. The focus this year on article 42 of the Declaration was important to move towards the Declaration’s universal acceptance and implementation. Every article of the Declaration should be given similar attention. Next year’s Forum session should focus on articles 26 to 30. He commended States that had endorsed the Declaration and urged others to do the same.
JOJI CARIÑO, Tebtebba Foundation, asked that the Forum, at its ninth session, organize a learning centre on sustainable development.
DELORIS CHARTERS, Friends of the Coquihalla, also speaking on behalf of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, pointed to how the Canadian Government was violating the rights of the indigenous people in British Columbia’s interior. The Coquihalla Mountains, in which the Coquihalla people had lived for centuries, were being considered by corporate interests for a multi-million dollar ski resort. The First Nations in British Columbia were merely “consulted” about what the corporate investors wanted. The First Nations had been impoverished by federal and provincial laws for 150 years. Most of the Nlaka’pamux Nation opposed the resort. Indigenous peoples had a right to own, use, develop and control their ancestral land, territories and resources. She urged the Forum to call on the Canadian Government to change its laws concerning the rights and titles of the British Columbia Interior’s First Nations. A respectful process that established the legal obligations of all parties were the parameters for constructive dialogue.
SOMALIN THACH, Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation, suggested that the Forum set up a half-day discussion for the recognition of people unrecognized by their Governments and, notably, to help set up a series of meetings between her organization and the Vietnamese Government. The Forum should urge Viet Nam to work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to distribute translated documents on the Declaration to her people. “We are the indigenous peoples of the Mekong Delta”, she said, adding her hope to live in her homeland and to practise her unique cultural heritage. It was time for Viet Nam to move beyond preventing her people from speaking at this Forum. She asked Viet Nam to “open their minds and their hearts and embrace the spirit of working in partnership”.
CHARMAINE WHITE FACE, Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council, recommended the creation of an international body to mediate situations between indigenous peoples and colonizing States. She urged United Nations agencies and those associated with biological diversity to conduct studies on impacts of uranium mining in all parts of the world. The 1868 Fort Laramie territory –- very high in agricultural production -- must be included in such a study. There were more than 10,000 exploratory wells that had contaminated aquifers. Her people who lived in that area, and American citizens, had cancer caused by radioactive poisoning, and the United States, though aware, had done nothing about it. She also asked the WHO to study the health impacts of uranium mining on indigenous peoples.
ALICIA MATU, African Caucus, said indigenous peoples’ situation in Africa continued to worsen. Their situation was critical, due to the unwillingness to recognize their identity. Educational systems marginalized indigenous cultural and language systems. Most indigenous peoples lived in forests, lakes and mountain districts that were economically marginalized. Governments were selling traditional lands to mining and other companies without indigenous peoples’ consent. As such, she reiterated the need for prior and informed consent with regard to extractive industries. She reminded delegates that the Forum was designed to achieve a three-way dialogue and African Governments needed to be present for that. African States should be reminded to implement the Declaration. She urged the Forum to give special attention to Burundi and the Congo, which had made some progress. What would encourage other Governments to become more involved?
OSCAR PILLA MASAQUIZA, Pueblo Kichwa Salasaka, said he was from Ecuador. While information on the Declaration had been disseminated to indigenous leaders, that was not enough. It was essential that it be printed for mass distribution in indigenous languages, and not just a few hundred copies. Indigenous peoples needed support from the Forum so that information could reach those at the grass-roots level. He urged setting up mechanisms for regular review of the plans and programmes of the United Nations in various countries to ensure that States were implementing the Declaration. There should also be scholarships for indigenous peoples to attend regional universities.
MIGUEL NICASIO MARTINEZ, Uni ón Nacional de Traductores Ind ígenas, said his organization had promoted the use of indigenous languages in Mexico, against the backdrop of the swift disappearance of indigenous languages and cultures. Today, indigenous peoples had settled in the major cities of the world, and education must reflect their presence. As for rural areas, there had been an increase in the pride of indigenous peoples. Institutions had promoted indigenous languages and cultures, but there was still a huge vacuum.
He urged the Forum to recommend that Mexico make the effort to ensure that indigenous children received an education within their cultural context. Indigenous people needed greater opportunity to speak, and workshops should be organized for them to express their concerns. He criticized those who denied the importance of indigenous cultures and languages. He urged opening a space -– first in the heart -– and next in other areas, from which support could be provided.
MICHELENA THERESA, Autonom ía Eraiki, asked the Forum to include language and education as an annual agenda item. The Basque indigenous language was perishing. Each new generation had fewer speakers of the language than the last. France refused to ratify the 1992 European Charter for regional or minority languages, under the pretext that it was unconstitutional. Children needed to be taught the language for use in daily life. Indigenous peoples in her region suffered from discrimination. She asked the Forum to provide the means necessary for France to respect regional and indigenous languages spoken in her territory. It was high time for France to respond affirmatively to the request for an autonomous status for the Basque country, which would allow it to protect its language. She also asked the Forum to nominate an indigenous expert for Western Europe and proposed the candidacy of a Basque expert.
MYRIAN SANCHEZ, Comunidad Integradora del Saber Andino Cisa, urged adherence to the principle of free, prior and informed consent, referred to in article 6 of ILO Convention No. 169. The cultural, spiritual, environmental, social and economic security of indigenous peoples in border areas, referred to in article 32 of that Convention, must also be guaranteed. The impact of mega-projects in indigenous peoples’ land and territories must be monitored. She called on States to recognize and guarantee the right of indigenous people to conserve their territories and land, as well as their historical traditions.
SATURNINO DIONISIO SIC SAPON, Movimiento Acci ón y Resistencia MAR, said it was important to remember that indigenous peoples had the ancestral knowledge and methods to protect and maintain the Earth’s natural resources. That knowledge should be strengthened through technical and financial resources, and monitoring work in that area should be left to the people in the rural communities that understood the area’s ecological make-up. Financial assistance should be given to established community organizations. The rights of indigenous people to preserve and protect the environment, as contained in article 29 of the Declaration, must be respected.
Mr. IBAÑEZ, Comunidad Campesina de Tauria, said Governments were doing little to comply with international norms regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. There was complicity between Governments and multinational corporations. The Government of Peru had signed energy conventions, which would lead to the construction of dams that would change the entire topography of indigenous peoples’ lands in Peru. Most people in the Peruvian Amazon lived in poverty. They were not consulted on so-called “projects for development” on their lands. He called for halting mega-projects on indigenous peoples’ lands in Peru. He called on the Forum to demand that the Peruvian Government give priority to the indigenous peoples, rather than to the multinational companies, whose mining activities had caused serious damage to indigenous peoples’ health and land.
CARSTEN SMITH, Forum member from Norway, said the in-depth dialogue, a new element, should continue. Dialogue was “speaking with good friends”, but human rights violations and breaches of the Declaration always took place in State jurisdiction. Thus far, States had not commented on such actions -– they lined up to pay respect to the Declaration, while violations continued. The Forum should seek to have States discuss their non-implementation of the Declaration. “We are in the post-Declaration era”, he said, but the Forum’s powers had not been debated during the session. A general comment on article 42 was adopted without reservations from participants. That was a good sign for the Declaration’s future application, but a few lines deserved emphasis. He then quoted from the text of the comment, which noted that the Declaration should be looked upon as a set of superior norms.
CHRISTINA HERENCIA, spoke on behalf of GLADYS SILVA of Alcides Chiquilin Comunidad de Jancos, Cajamarca, Peru, explaining that she represented peoples whose lands were being damaged by mining. The reproductive systems of fish, which provided food for indigenous peoples, had been damaged. One mining company in particular had expanded its operations, launched an intimidation campaign and undertaken selective murders of indigenous peoples. She charged Peru with not living up to its obligations under ILO Convention No. 169. She urged the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples to visit her region.
Mr. ALARCON, Comisi ón Jur ídica para el Autodesarrollo de los Pueblos Originarios Andinos (CAPAJ), said that after almost a decade of Forum sessions, it was important that no one be left out. States’ indifference showed that there was no determination to comply with the Forum’s recommendations. The activities of States must comply with all United Nations declarations. There should be a secretariat to compile resolutions on indigenous peoples and evaluate best practices. He had already called on the Forum to devote a half-day debate to the situation of indigenous migrant workers.
SHIRLEY CHESNEY, Peace Action International, recommended that a future theme concern indigenous peoples as political prisoners deprived of the due process of justice. There were a disproportionate number of indigenous prisoners deprived of their social, cultural and economic rights in dominant judicial systems. She highlighted the case of one man in prison since 1977, the longest-held political prisoner in the United States. The Forum should call on the Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples visit the United States prison system and this man. It should also consider an annual report on political prisoners.
Ms. JOHNSTON, Yamasi People, said indigenous people must be allowed to have environmental sovereignty and there must be a body of indigenous environmental law to that effect. Their Declaration, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and ILO Convention No. 169, clearly recognized that indigenous peoples had the right to their resources. The Economic and Social Council should fund an indigenous task force to support international law focused on indigenous communities and help States meet their obligations by supporting the development of international indigenous lawyers. The Forum should promote the field of international indigenous law.
Mr. CROMELIN, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, said extractive industries pressured indigenous peoples. The Forum should encourage States to implement the Declaration. In addition, climate change directly impacted cultural and traditional lands. As such, indigenous peoples were deeply concerned about the degradation of the natural environment. Like peoples living in small island States, indigenous peoples of Australia could expect increased trauma, including post-traumatic stress syndrome, as a result of natural disasters. The irony was that they had contributed the least to instigating climate change. Indigenous peoples must be part of the debate and take part in designing solutions. It was critical that Australia develop strategies to adapt to climate change and that indigenous peoples be centrally involved in the decision-making. For its part, the Forum should add its support to the “Anchorage Declaration”, he concluded.
PETER SMITH, Australia representative of the World Council of Churches, recommended that the Forum and the Economic and Social Council consider what appropriate action could be taken to encourage those States that were not living up to their promises under the Kyoto Protocol and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The Millennium Development Goals should be aligned with poverty reduction strategies that addressed the particular needs of indigenous peoples. Without their meaningful participation, their marginalization and exclusion would continue. He called for strengthening the investigation and condemnation of trafficking of women and for the Forum, through relevant agencies, to promote laws against all forms of violence against women. It should encourage States to enact laws and protect the human rights of indigenous peoples.
ROBBY ROMERO, American Indian Law Alliance, recommended that the Forum restrain non-governmental organizations that were using their Economic and Social Council status with the Forum to give corporations access to indigenous peoples, nations and organizations in order to financially exploit indigenous culture, resources and intellectual property for their own profit. The Forum, in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, should develop guidelines regarding the activities of corporations and NGOs in line with indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior and informed consent, intellectual property rights, traditional knowledge, collective land rights, and access to benefit sharing and impact assessment measures.
He expressed concern over the “best practices” presented by international agencies and transnational corporations, which were not transparent and not adequately monitored for their cultural, spiritual and environmental impact on indigenous peoples. The Forum should seriously consider Bolivian President Evo Morales’ initiative to fully recognize and implement the rights of nature and all of our relations.
LEITANTHEM UMAKANTA MEITEI, Land Is Life, endorsed the process used in the indigenous peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, held in Alaska, which used regional preparatory summits to allow for widespread input from indigenous peoples worldwide. He endorsed the Alaska Declaration on Climate Change, that Summit’s outcome document. And he recommended that all United Nations bodies formally include indigenous peoples when discussing, designing and implementing climate change policies and programmes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the fifteenth Conference of Parties.
Climate change should not be used as an excuse to violate indigenous peoples’ lives, rights, land, natural resources, health or cultural identity, he said. Before expecting indigenous people to endorse or participate in any carbon-related United Nations programme aimed at them, the United Nations should produce evidence that such programmes would result in an absolute reduction of carbon emissions.
Mr. DODSON, Forum member from Australia, returning to agenda item 4, informed the Forum of his visit to Hawaii last October, in his capacity as a Forum member. During his visit, he had held discussions with elders and spoken with local high school students. The Hawaiian Institute of Human Rights had hosted him as a speaker on aboriginal rights in Australia and had arranged a visit to a sacred mountain, on which a telescope was proposed to be built. There was potential for violation of human and Earth rights with that proposal. The Institute had also hosted a community dialogue in Maui, where he had spoken about the Permanent Forum’s work. At the University of Hawaii, he had spoken with students on implementation of the Declaration.
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