Ambassador Jorge Reynaldo Cuadros, Chairman of the Working Group for the elaboration of an American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Respected Representatives of the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS)
Brothers and Sisters, Representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of Abyayala
My name is Manuela Cotiy. I am from the Kiché People of Guatemala. Indigenous women symbolize the fertility of our mother earth, the custodians of our cultural patrimony, and the transmitters of our ancestral knowledge that bears the principles and values of our world view which promotes the principle of complementarity and equilibrium that characterizes Indigenous Peoples and is framed by a harmonic and respectful coexistence with Our Mother Earth.
In the closing ceremony of the working group reflection meeting, the caucus that gathers the Indigenous Peoples of the Continent salutes and thanks the will manifested by the governmental representatives to continue supporting the drafting process of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a joint effort that has taken us eleven years during which we firmly believe we have advanced in developing a declaration that recognizes the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We feel that the session began a little pessimistically, but we thank each of the State Representatives for their positive reaction to the work presented by the Indigenous Caucus concerning the progress achieved in the process up until this point and as such hope for positive results from future negotiation sessions.
The Indigenous Peoples of the hemisphere have assembled here, each one speaking his/her own language, having his/her distinct social organization, world view, and ethical, legal, economic and productive principles among other aspects. We are convinced that for this draft declaration to be useful for Indigenous Peoples, the principle of Self-determination must be clearly established in the document, a right from which is derived the rest of the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples like the rights to land, territory and resources, tangible and intangible patrimony, and participation, among others. This is in agreement with the new generation of standards of international law like those instruments concerning the rights of Indigenous Peoples as reflected in the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which contains a compilation of rights that have been sufficiently clarified by international law. In this sense, we salute the advances achieved up until now by the indigenous government of Bolivia, which has adopted in its legislation the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Indigenous Caucus urges the OAS State Representatives to maintain a flexible and open position in order to approve an American Declaration as soon as possible that contemplates all of the Collective Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We believe it is of great relevance that this draft be completed soon and establish standards that are consistent with and complementary to other legal instruments of the international order that are relative to the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In the name of the Indigenous Caucus, we insist that each one of the State Representatives demonstrate the political will to advance the adoption of the American Declaration that reflects the Rights and fundamental demands of Indigenous Peoples.
MALTIOX, which in the Kiché language signifies: Thank you.
Washington DC, December 12, 2008