Thursday, September 13, 2007

Historic Milestone for Indigenous Peoples Worldwide as UN Adopts Rights Declaration

New York, 13 September - Marking an historic achievement for the more than 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide, the General Assembly today adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the result of more than two decades of consultation and dialogue among governments and indigenous peoples from all regions.

"Today, by adopting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples we are making further progress to improve the situation of indigenous peoples around the world," stated General Assembly President Haya Al Khalifa.

"We are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warmly welcomed the adoption, calling it "a triumph for indigenous peoples around the world."

He further noted that "this marks a historic moment when UN Member States and indigenous peoples reconciled with their painful histories and resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all."

Adopted by the Human Rights Council in June 2006, the Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It establishes an important standard for eliminating human rights violations against indigenous peoples worldwide and for combating discrimination and marginalization.

"The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the Indigenous Peoples of the world, a day that the United Nations and its Member States, together with Indigenous Peoples, reconciled with past painful histories and decided to march into the future on the path of human rights," said Ms. Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Declaration addresses both individual and collective rights, cultural rights and identity, rights to education, health, employment, language and others. The Declaration explicitly encourages harmonious and cooperative relations between States and Indigenous Peoples. It prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.

Calling the Declaration "tangible proof of the increasing cooperation of States, Indigenous Peoples and the international community as a whole for the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples", Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang said that the UN "has fulfilled its role as the world's parliament and has responded to the trust that Indigenous Peoples around the world placed in it, that it will stand for dignity and justice, development and peace for all, without discrimination."

The Declaration was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the General Assembly, with 143 countries voting in support, 4 voting against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstaining (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa, Ukraine).

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For more information on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, please see:

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A Caribbean Indigenous Position on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


8:00 a.m. (est)

Ta’kahi Guaitiao (Greetings Relatives), on behalf of the Taíno People - the elders, children, women and men - represented by the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), and in solidarity with other Caribbean Indigenous Nations and organizations including The Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos (Puerto Rico); Caney Quinto Mundo (Puerto Rico); Kalinago Carib Nation (Dominica); Santa Rosa Carib Community (Trinidad); Joboshirima Lokono Arawak Community (Venezuela); Sanomaro Esa (Suriname); Eagle Clan Arawaks (Guyana/Barbados); Caney Indian Spiritual Circle (Cuba/U.S.); Presencia Taina (Puerto Rico/U.S.); Bohio Attabey Taino Women’s Circle (Puerto Rico/U.S.); Tainos Roca de Amor del Turey (Puerto Rico) and the Fundacion Luz Cosmica Taina (Dominican Republic), it is our hope that this message finds you well and in good Spirit.

On this historic day, the UCTP respectfully shares the following statement with regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It is the view of the UCTP that Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will act upon today, Thursday September 13, 2007, contains many provisions that are acceptable to our diverse communities as well as several provisions that we cannot support.

While the UCTP recognizes and appreciates that the Declaration text contains provisions that uphold and affirm for example our right to self-determination, land and natural resources, free prior informed consent, Treaties, and other inherent rights, we also recognize and are greatly concerned that final changes to the text were completed without the direct participation of Indigenous Peoples.

With this in mind and recalling the great sacrifices of Indigenous Peoples who have worked tirelessly toward the adoption of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples over the past 25 years, Caribbean Indigenous Peoples join in solidarity with our Indigenous relatives from around the world by not opposing the presentation of the modified text of the Declaration by the co-sponsoring states for adoption by the UNGA. This position is also based on the expressed commitment from the co-sponsors and African states to block any additional amendments which weaken or undermine the Declaration during the General Assembly vote or afterwards.

In addition, we express our profound appreciation to the many states, especially the Caribbean states, who will vote in support of the Declaration today. The UCTP will also note and call attention to those who will oppose it and we urge these states to re-consider their position in the spirit of partnership expressed in the theme of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

In closing, the UCTP, in solidarity with the leaders of Caribbean Indigenous Nations and organizations throughtout the region, looks forward to immediately undertaking the implementation of the Declaration, working in positive, harmonious collaboration with states and UN Bodies.

In the Spirit of Our Ancestors,
Roberto Múcaro Borrero,
President and Chairman,
UCTP Office of International Relations
and Regional Coordination

Friday, September 7, 2007

APA, GOIP expect gov't to back UN Indigenous Peoples rights declaration

APA, GOIP expect gov't to back UN Indigenous Peoples rights declaration

The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) said yesterday that they expect the Guyana Government to vote for the immediate adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13.

According to a joint APA/GOIP press release, the government has had a further opportunity to make its input to the Declaration and it was also on record as stating that "the Government of Guyana unequivocally supports the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the belief that such a document would strengthen global efforts to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples."

"We strongly believe that the Declaration which was already adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2006 represents the most important international instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights for indigenous peoples," the release stated.

And it noted also that indigenous peoples around the world have been lobbying their governments to support the adoption of the Declaration as this would be a major step towards eliminating the widespread human rights violations suffered by over 370 million indigenous peoples worldwide.

The APA and GOIP said further that they were aware that the Declaration which previously came up for consideration before the UN General Assembly in November 2006 was deferred to allow member states the opportunity to have further consultations. Since then a number of proposed amendments to the Declaration have been made, they said, and Guyana was among a group of seven states which had called for amendments to the Declaration.

The release also recalled statements from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an August 16 press release which said, among other things, that the deferral of the adoption of the Declaration provided "small states like Guyana with a significant Amerindian population to share views and make timely inputs on the text since Guyana which does not have a mission in Geneva was constrained in participating in the lengthy preparation of the Draft Declaration."

Source: Stabroek News, 7 Sept. 2007

PRESS CONFERENCE on Indigenous Rights Declaration

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

PRESS CONFERENCE on indigenous rights declaration

Indigenous peoples’ representatives, at a Headquarters press conference this morning, endorsed the amended text of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and called for its adoption by consensus by the General Assembly next week.

Speaking to the press about the latest developments regarding the negotiations on the draft were: Les Malezer, Chair of the Global Indigenous Caucus; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Joseph Ole Simel, Coordinator of the African Regional Indigenous Caucus.

The draft was forwarded to the Assembly following its approval by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 29 June 2006, and action on the text is expected on 13 September. Initially scheduled for November 2006, the adoption of the text was deferred, on a motion by African States, until the end of the Assembly’s current session in September 2007, so that further consultations could take place.

Mr. Malezer said that, presented with an agreement between the African Group and co-sponsors of the draft, the Steering Committee -- a body made up of representatives from seven regional groups -- had asked for indigenous peoples’ opinions on the Declaration and formed its response on the basis of those communications. While many of the indigenous peoples supported the amended Declaration, many others took the position not to oppose its adoption. Some felt strongly that they should not be bound by the process and emphasized the right of indigenous peoples to decide their own arrangements in their own time frame.

See full story at:

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Press Conference on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Joseph Ole Simel, Coordinator of the African Regional Indigenous Caucus, responds to the amendments proposed by Member States to the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during a press conference, at UN Headquarters in New York.

Location: United Nations, New York Date: 06 September 2007