GUYANA TAKES RETRORADE STEP ON UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
As Guyana and the rest of the world commemorate another International Day of Indigenous Peoples on August 9, 2007, the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) and the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) are calling on the Government of Guyana to vote for the approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration) when it again comes before the UN General Assembly next month.
We are extremely disappointed to learn that Guyana has joined with six other states namely Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Russia and Surinam in asking for the Declaration which represents over two decades of expert and rigorous effort involving states and indigenous peoples to be redrafted. This represents a most retrograde step on the part of Guyana and those states which have taken this position. We are dismayed that Guyana has aligned itself with this small group of states which are proposing that one-sided changes are made to a vital document that constitutes the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples.
We gravely concerned about this development taking into consideration that GOIP had written to His Excellency President Jagdeo on February 7, 2007, requesting that Guyana endorse the Declaration. In a response dated June 14, 2007, the Honourable Minister of Amerindian Affairs stated that the Government of Guyana “is fully supportive of a process that would result in a Declaration that is unambiguous, preserves national unity and ultimately improve the lot of the world’s indigenous peoples.”
GOIP and APA are convinced that the Declaration which was adopted by the Human Rights Council of the UN in June 2006 represents the most important international instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights for indigenous peoples which fits the criteria that the Government says it is supportive of. We are therefore dismayed that the Government has suddenly taken this extreme position.
The GOIP and APA hereby urge the Government to reconsider its position and support the adoption of the Declaration in its present form.
GOIP Executive Committee,
APA Executive Committee,
7th August, 2007