Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
17th Meeting (PM)
NEED FOR FORMAL COMPLAINT PROCEDURES, EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIES,
INCREASED FUNDING HIGHLIGHTED IN PERMANENT FORUM ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES
The need for formal complaints procedures, effective communication strategies and increased funding were among the issues discussed as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues met this afternoon to consider its future work and provisional agenda for its third session.
The representative of the Pacific Caucus highlighted the need to increase awareness of the Forum’s work. She asked that a media service be invited to provide simultaneous broadcast of the Forum meetings, in order that people all over the world could be informed about indigenous issues. It would also be helpful to have e-mail reports from the Forum’s secretariat for all those that had attended this session, she said.
The representative of the Instituto Indígena Brasileiro de Propriedade Intelectual (INBRAPI) also emphasised the importance of communication and felt that it was vital for indigenous peoples to receive reports of the Forum’s sessions. Many indigenous initiatives were taking place, and information about all those events should be circulated, he said.
The Forum should visit countries and regions outside New York where indigenous people lived and worked, said the representative of Denmark. A dialogue should be maintained between the Forum and the representatives of indigenous peoples. To that end, the Forum could organize workshops in various regions.
The representative of Sovereign Dineh Nation and Haudenosaunee Ska-Roh-Reh was convinced that the Forum could be a powerful tool in achieving justice and equality, but to do so, it must establish formal complaint procedures. Stressing that violations of indigenous peoples rights had led to the loss of land and environmental destruction, she said the Forum should ensure that indigenous claims were heard and investigated.
Several speakers remarked that the Permanent Forum could not function effectively without adequate financing. Its future success was dependent on an appropriate budget allocation from the Economic and Social Council as well as the support of Member States. Every effort should be made to ensure that this financing was secured.
Others noted that many of the aspirations of the Decade of Indigenous Peoples had not yet been met. Accordingly, they recommended the establishment of a second decade to build on the limited action that had been taken so far.
Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of Venezuela, Colombia, and Dominica.
Other speakers included representatives of the Assembly of First Nations and associated groups, Majority Caucus, Indigenous Nations Network, Tetunwa Oyate and Oglala Lakota Nation, Canadian Teacher’s Federation and Education International, Indigenous Youth Caucus, Asia Indigenous People’s Caucus, Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust, Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA), Indigenous Caucus on Sustainable Development, Indigenous Groups of Latin America, Indigenous Women’s Caucus, AYMARA Alliance, and other indigenous organizations.
The Forum will meet again on Friday morning at 11 a.m. to conclude its session.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues met this afternoon to discuss its future work. (For background information see Press Release HR/4658, issued on
MARSHA MONESTERSKY, on behalf of Sovereign Dineh Nation and Haudenosaunee Ska-Roh-Reh Ambassador to the United Nations, Douglas Anderson, said indigenous rights were systematically violated, even when they were recognized by law. Stressing that such violations had led to the loss of land, access to clean water, and environmental destruction, she said the Forum should ensure that indigenous claims were heard and investigated. She was convinced that the Forum could be a powerful tool in achieving justice and equality, but it must establish a formal complaint procedure, as well as a formal protocol for documentation and record keeping.
She recommended that the Forum establish a commission of scholars and specialists to identify and draft a complaint procedure. It should also establish a commission to organize a system of recording keeping and documentation.
NICOLE HETU, of the Assembly of First Nations and associated groups, recommended that the Forum insist that the Government of Canada accept responsibility for colonization enforced on the First Nation. To that end, an indigenous knowledge base should be created in conjunction with indigenous peoples. The history of the country was perpetuated today via instruments of mass education. That history consisted of an historically biased narrative that continued to tell a derogatory story. Until youth were given the opportunity to learn the truth, justice and democracy could not be achieved for future generations. Indigenous education must be made available for all Canadians so that they could share the true history of colonization.
RONALD BARNES, speaking on behalf of the Majority Caucus, said self-determination was the underlying principle that encompassed all aspects of decision-making for all issues that were vital for the recognition, protection and survival of indigenous peoples. Self-determination was a matter of critical urgency for those that were victims of militarization and violence. In this context, he fully believed that a full discussion of the right to self-determination would move the process in the deliberations of the Working Group on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. He therefore recommended the theme “The right to self-determination” for the third Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2004.
WILLIAM UNDERBAGGAGE, speaking on behalf of the Indigenous Nations Network, Tetunwa Oyate and Oglala Lakota Nation, recommended the holding of an Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Peace Summit. He recommended that a task force be created to assist indigenous peoples to find their work to protect their legacy for future generations.
JANET BEAVER, of the Canadian Teacher’s Federation and Education International, recommended that indigenous children be funded to make presentations at the next meeting of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. She also recommended that the Forum hold regional meetings with indigenous people to prioritize issues identified by indigenous people, and to develop an action plan to guide the future work of the Forum. She also stressed that the Forum’s future success was dependent on an appropriate budget allocation from the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as well as the support of Member States. She called on all Forum participants to urgently adopt the draft on the rights of indigenous peoples.
A representative of the Indigenous Youth Caucus said the Caucus of Indigenous People 2003 had agreed to continue its work on indigenous issues within the framework of the United Nations. The United Nations could draft norms to protect indigenous people, and could mobilize international organizations. It was important for indigenous people to travel throughout the world, and the Forum should maintain the Working Group on the Rights of Indigenous Populations.
REBECCA SUMMER, speaking on behalf of several indigenous organizations, said that all United Nations agencies should act now to adopt policies on indigenous peoples. They should also include indigenous focal points within each United Nations specialized agency. She recommended using monitoring mechanisms on the implementation of the Forum’s recommendations from its first and second sessions. The Forum should focus on dialogue rather than on testimony statements, she said.
The representative of the Pacific Caucus said that she hoped all delegations would seek to bring youth to the Forum every year. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should continue to be supported, and she called for immediate adoption of the Declaration by all governments as a sign of their support for human rights. She also asked that a media service be invited to provide simultaneous broadcast of the Forum meetings, so people around the world could know what work was being done in this sphere. It would also be helpful to have e-mail reports from the Forum’s secretariat for all those that had attended the Forum. The Pacific Caucus would also like regional interventions to be posted on Web sites for all to read.
The representative of Venezuela said issues relating to indigenous people were a priority for his Government, which fully supported all initiatives aimed at promoting the rights of indigenous peoples. The county’s constitution recognized the identity of indigenous people and their right to traditional lands. Venezuela allowed indigenous people to be represented in government, and they had a true political platform as well as a functioning legal framework. Indigenous people must determine their own fate and produce and implement programmes allowing them to develop. Policies had been established to strengthen the health of indigenous people, and a medical guide had been published on indigenous medicine.
A representative of the Asia Indigenous People’s Caucus said indigenous women were carriers of indigenous culture and identity. It was timely that the current focus was on indigenous women and the problems that they faced. She recommended that the Forum make indigenous women and their place in development a theme for the next session. She also recommended that the Forum carry out a study to examine the intensity and variety of problems faced by indigenous women. It should also engage in an interactive dialogue with the United Nations system on how to address the concerns of indigenous women.
TRACY WHARE, representative of the Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust, asked that the Forum monitor the work of the United Nations Charter and Treaty bodies to ensure that the jurisprudence was consistent with indigenous peoples’ human rights. The forum should recommend that States consult with indigenous peoples prior to presenting their reports to the Charter and Treaty bodies. For example, the Government of New Zealand failed to consult sufficiently with the Maori people before presenting its periodic report to the Human Rights Charter body last year.
The representative of Colombia said the indigenous peoples of Columbia numbered 780,000 inhabitants, and 82 groups, speaking 64 different languages. Only 13 per cent lived in territories without any property. The largest numbers of indigenous peoples lived in the important environmental areas. His country had a law protecting the equality of all cultures existing on Columbia’s territory. Many indigenous peoples were members of their own health regimes set up by their own communities. The Government was working to improve the human rights situation in Colombia and offered protection for indigenous peoples who were victims of discrimination and violence.
MARCOS TERENA, of the Instituto Indigna Brasileiro de Propriedade Intelectual (INBRAPI), said indigenous people should come to the Forum session to discuss their particular problems, and the Voluntary Fund should assist them with that. In communicating indigenous issues, indigenous people should make use of indigenous newspapers as well as the Forum to spread the word. He stressed that communication was of fundamental importance, and that it was vital to receive the reports of the Forum’s sessions. Many indigenous initiatives were taking place, and information about all those events should be circulated. He hoped that spiritual groups would be able to pray for the struggles against discrimination at the next session.
The representative of Denmark said the Forum should visit countries and regions outside New York where indigenous people lived and worked. A dialogue should be maintained between the Forum and the representatives of indigenous peoples. To that end, the Forum could organize workshops in various regions, with the assistance of the Voluntary Fund.
LES MALEZER, speaking on behalf of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA), suggested that the Web site of the Forum continue to be developed along with the associated but independent Web site of the Indigenous Media Network. He also sought more interaction through the Permanent Forum with the human rights treaty bodies. These organizations played two vital roles, the first being the complaints and monitoring mechanisms of the respective treaties, and the second being the developing international jurisprudence regarding the legal rights of indigenous peoples. He also suggested that the Forum should provide some focus on the Durban Declaration arising from the World Conference against Racism.
The representative of Dominica said his Government fully supported all the efforts of the Forum. Clearly, indigenous peoples were anxious to provide the international community with their unique perspective. The full participation of indigenous peoples at all levels in the United Nations was essential.
He noted that many of the aspirations of the decade of indigenous peoples had not been met. Accordingly, he recommended the establishment of a second decade. He asked that the Forum be supplied with sufficient funding so that it could carry out its mandate. Every effort should be undertaken to make sure than the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted, he said.
A representative of the Indigenous Caucus on Sustainable Development recommended that the Forum always use a human rights framework in promoting the civil, economic and cultural rights of indigenous people. She stressed that it was vital to adopt the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous people. The Forum should prioritize 10 key recommendations in striving for more realistic implementation of its objectives, and to ensure that monitoring would be more effective. A matrix could be made up of three columns, with key thematic areas and activities, as well as cross-cutting issues.
The Forum should also closely monitor how United Nations bodies at regional and country levels were opening up to indigenous peoples. The World Bank and other financial institutions were highly resistant to indigenous people because they catered to elite sectors of society.
A representative of several indigenous groups of Latin America said children and youth in her region were being forcibly recruited by paramilitary groups, which was threatening their mental and social integrity. In Panama and Colombia, children had been marginalized and discriminated against. Cultural programmes adapted to indigenous children and youth did not exist, and no relations existed between generations. The way of life and spirituality of indigenous people were in serious question. For example, the use of genetically modified seeds that were being introduced into indigenous territories would affect development.
The representative of the Regional Action Group for the Environment said that the loss of rare and precious plant species was occurring every day. They were being genetically poisoned so that the birds and animals that fed of them were dying. The true weapons of mass destruction were being forced upon indigenous peoples by the United States and other colonizing nations. The world was being forced to participate in the largest experiment ever conducted without its knowledge or consent. She called for the establishment of an indigenous peoples seed bank.
MARCEL ARIAS, on behalf of several indigenous organizations, questioned what had been achieved during the decade for Indigenous people. Many governments and agencies had made plans for activities that were not carried out. The Forum should recommend to States and the General Assembly that the decade be extended. He stressed that the self-determination of indigenous people meant the
re-appropriation of lands and territories. The Forum should consider that issue because it was a major part of the plans of action for the decade for Indigenous people.
The representative of the Indigenous Women’s Caucus said that indigenous women were the traditional caretakers of mother earth and were central to the health and well-being of nations. However, indigenous women continued to suffer abuse and discrimination. She called for immediate measures to be taken to end all forms of gender inequality. She also requested that the Forum support recommendations to make “indigenous” women the theme of the Forum’s next session in 2004.
A representative of the Aymara Alliance said information should be provided on how the Forum related to other international and regional meetings. He
suggested that non-governmental organizations limit their interventions to the stipulated three to five minutes, and that participants read the book “How to write for the United Nations”.
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