Report on the 19th session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations
Day 1, Monday AM, July 23, 2001
Working Group, Morning Session
Summary. In the morning Mrs Daes annonuces this is the last time she will chair the WGIP. In the afternoon, a special question and answer session is held with the newly appointed Special Rapporteur.
OPENING STATEMENT TO THE NINETHEENTH SESSION OF THE WORKING GROUP ON INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS
By the Chairperson Rapporteur prof. Eric- Irene A. Daes
* Distinguished Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Stefanie Grant * Dear Colleagues-members of the working group on Indigenous Populations * Excellencies * Esteemed Elders, Grant chiefs and Chiefs and representatives of the world's Indigenous peoples * Distinguished Representatives of Observer Governments, United Nations organs and bodies, specialized agencies Intergovernmental and Non- Governmental Organizations.
At the outset, I would like to express my grateful thanks to my collegues and friends for electing me as Chairperson-Rapporteur of this of historic importance Working group. In particular, I would like to express my gratitude to Professors Alfonso Martinez, Motoc and Yokota, and Judge Guisse for their generous and kind words. It is a great honor for me to be once again charged with the responsibility of chairing the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. I am conscious of the trust that my distinguished Colleagues members of the Working Group confer upon me. I take this opportunity of assuring them as well as all participants that I undertake the duties as Chairperson- Rapporteur of this body with great seriousness and deep responsibility. It is my intention to conduct the nineteenth session of the working Group, as I have done since I was elected Chairperson in 1984, in a open, equitable and constructive manner. We have established working practices, which I believe have earned this Working Group the appreciation and deep respect of indigenous peoples, observer Governments and other participants. As I will explain, in a few minutes, we have a forum in which serious and often distressing situations can be discussed and understood better at a unique United Nations forum, where positive actions and solutions can be shared and promoted. I wish to continue to maintain this liberal and democratic spirit of freedom, openness, cooperation, frankness and constructive dialogue in the five days that follow.
I take this opportunity of welcoming all participants to the nineteenth session of the working Group on Indigenous Populations. I know that some indigenous representatives have traveled long distances at great expense and we the members of the working group greatly appreciate the efforts you have made in being with us to share your experiences and to, make your substantial contribution to our work. I offer a special welcome to the 79 indigenous representatives that have been assisted by the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, (as well as the Indigenous fellows who are participating in the United Nations Indigenous Fellowship Programme within the office of the high Commissioner for Human rights. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude to donors of both the Voluntary fund for Indigenous Populations and the Voluntary Fund for the International Decade of the world's Indigenous people. The voluntary contributions have allowed the High Commissioner on behalf of the Secretary General to approve, as I have already stated, 79 travel grants for indigenous representatives to participate in the Working Group during its current session. The voluntary contributions have also enabled the High Commissioner Office for Human Rights, and the competent Advisory Group to allocate Grants to 30 projects and programmes under the Decade to promote the Human Rights of the Indigenous peoples. I would like, once again, to appeal to both regular and potential donors to support the activities of both funds in order to enable them to continue effectively fulfill their mandates.
The Commission on Human Rights by its resolution 2001/57 established the position of a Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. A few weeks ago the Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights appointed Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen from Mexico as Special Rapporteur. He will be present with us during the Entire Working Group. I take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Stavenhagen and wishing him every success in his work within the framework of his mandate. It is my intention to invite Mr. Stavenhagen to meet with the indigenous representatives in room XVIII, today at 15.00, making use of the interpretation facilities available. The establishment of the institution of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, constitutes an additional international mechanism for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. Of course much depends on a fair, just, transparent and effective implementation of its mandate and the relevant United Nations system's resolutions.
Distinguished participants, As the Chairperson - Rapporteur for now 18 years, you will allow me to make some general comments and express some views before commencing our work. It is with a feeling of great sadness that I address you from this podium for the last time, as the chairperson-rapporteur of the Working Group, a position that I have held with a deep sense of honor and responsibility, for so many years. You have all been a large part of my life and you are all part of what I believe has been the most important, and the most rewarding task that I have ever undertaken: promoting and defending the human rights of indigenous peoples at the international level throughout the United Nations system. I will miss you all. Despite the difficult decisions we have had to make, and the many disagreements we may have had we have struggled together, in a spirit of serious commitment and open constructive dialogue, to set a good example for the international community. Together, we represent something larger and more powerful than the legal structures and studies we have debated and drafted here. We represent a new kind of dialogue between governments and indigenous peoples - a crucial step in the development of a democratic world order.
I can say, with great pride, that this Working Group led the way, in the 1980s, to the most far- reaching recent reform of the United Nations system: a quantum leap in the participation of non-governmental organizations at nearly all levels of decision making, accompanied by a significant increase in the representative diversity of NGOs. The United Nations has taken serious steps towards realizing the democratic ideal stated the Preamble of its Charter : "We the Peoples of the United Nations"...
Gradually, the United Nations is becoming a true form of nations, peoples and communities. And indigenous peoples were the first grassroots movement to gain direct access to the United Nations - and that achievement began here, in the Working Group.
That was not our only achievement. The Working Group has provided a global democratic and liberal forum and gathering place for indigenous peoples themselves for about 20 years. During the same period, indigenous peoples have formed hundreds of local, national and regional organizations to represent their interests; but in practical terms, the working group has been the international organization of indigenous peoples - and as such, it has continued its outstanding work. The Working Group has been one place in the United Nations system where Governments listen and were directly informed about the problems and needs of the indigenous world, but the indigenous peoples set the agenda. Although the Working Group is officially a body of individual experts, it is actuality a sui generis body of the United Nations system, in which indigenous peoples hold the balance of moral and intellectual authority.
I wish to thank most warmly and to pay tribute to, my fellow members of the working Group - those who are with us today, and those who preceded us, including in particular Mr Eide, Ms. Ahta, Prof. Hatano and the first Secretary of the Working Group Prof. Alfredsson, for their courage, their spirit of independence, and their open-mindedness. If we had not possessed these qualities , the Working Group could never have empowered indigenous peoples to such a great extent. Thank you very much all for what you have contributed to our substantive and significant work, and to the unique spirit of this body, which today, constitutes a community of the indigenous peoples of the world.
With active participation of the indigenous peoples, we have achieved so much, but we have so much work left to do. Our main project, the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, has languished in the ad hoc Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights for seven years now. Its, bold vision, which once clearly expressed the values and aspirations of indigenous peoples, has disappeared beneath an ocean of square brackets. It is my sincere belief, that those representatives indigenous or governments, who delay the progress of the consideration of the relevant provisions of the original draft, offer a disservice to the United nations, indigenous peoples and governments. Also, I would like to mention, that our technical studies on rights, treaties and transnational corporations, have not been finally approved or implemented. The International Year and the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, Have received appallingly meager financial support; and while United Nations operational bodies and specialized agencies have taken greater heed of the concerns of indigenous peoples, they still devote less than one-tenth of one percent of their program budgets to activities that benefit indigenous peoples directly. I must say that I was extremely disappointed that the United Nations Millenium Declaration ( 55/2 resolution adopted by the General Assembly) did not include any specific commitment or reference to indigenous peoples.
We must face the fact that, unfortunately, the indigenous peoples should continue their struggle in order to achieve some of the basic goals related to their human rights and freedoms. As I already mentioned, the Commission on Human Rights is even unable to adopt at least some provisions of the draft United nations Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples that re- state principles already adopted by the United Nations Conference on environment and Development nearly a decade ago. Is this a sign of greater fear on the part of some Member States, or simply a return to indifference?
The world has changed tremendously since I first sat here at this podium as Chair-person Rapporteur in 1984. In some ways the world has become safer than it was then. The cold War is behind us now, and with it, the terrifying nuclear arms race that held the entire planet for ransom. However, conventional wars, terrorism, organized crime and civil strife continue in many parts of the world, and the loss of human life has been terrible. Some major powers may be safer and more secure today, but most of the world’s peoples still live in fear, misery, poverty. WE moreover seem to be heading into a new kind of East-West "cold war" that does not even prevent to be about different social ideologies, but merely about power, mistrust and insecurity. Distinguished participants,
Today, new forms of aggression threaten the freedom and survival of indigenous peoples throughout the world. A growing number of countries have thrown open their doors to greater foreign investment and trade. At the same time, while we have recognized the growing threat to human beings-and indeed, to life on earth,- from ecological waste, we have done little to reverse the process of environmental destruction. Deforestation continues in both tropical and northern regions. The Kyoto Protocol on climate change appears to have almost collapsed. In the wake of the Cold War, the world is not striving to be freer and healthier, but to posses and consume more things.
Global levels of consumption are not only unsustainable, but on the whole, they are increasing. This feeds the demand for new supplies of raw materials in hitherto isolated or unexploited parts of the world. As a result, indigenous peoples and other traditional communities are losing their lands, territories and ways of life faster than ever. I wish that I could state that the United Nations system is making every effort to protect the world's remaining indigenous and traditional peoples from dispossession and exploitation, and to help them adapt new modern political and economical realities.
The High Commissioner of Human Rights, her Colleagues and some United Nations specialized agencies are, in fact, taking steps to help indigenous communities organize, document their territories and defend their human rights including their cultural rights. I am thinking of some successful initiatives taken in particular in a small number of countries by the Global Environment Facility; by the international Labour Organization (ILO); and by UNSO, the United Nations agency established to combat desertification, as well as by WHO, FAO, UNESCO, WIPO, and in certain projects World bank. These are important and sincere steps but they are not enough. They reach fewer than one percent of the world’s indigenous peoples.
Some Years ago, there was still a debate over whether indigenous peoples possessed any distinct collective rights. One of our primary tasks in the Working Group was to develop a consensus that indigenous peoples do, indeed, exist as distinct peoples with specific rights to their collective existence and identity. We have achieved this, on the whole. The Convention on Biological Diversity, the convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples 1989 ( No 169) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (as interpreted by the relevant treaty body), recognize the collective rights of indigenous peoples to govern themselves and their ancestral lands and resources. The remaining legal argument concern the nature and scope- but not, I would venture to state, the existence- of indigenous people’s right to self- determination.
Our primary challenge today is implementation. And that is not within the power or resources of the WG – nor indeed, is it within the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights , or of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The task of implementation will require all of the technical and financial resources of the UN system, in particular the large operational programs, such as the UNDP, UNICEF, and all the competent specialized agencies. This, in turn, will require high-level policy and coordination.
Some years ago, I had great hopes that the WG would evolve into some kind of peace building and mediation program, bringing Governments and indigenous peoples together to build trust and devise institutional solutions for Actual situations in particular countries. This has not transpired; although I am pleased to say that we did have occasion to use our good offices in a number of urgent situations around the world, with at least some positive influence. On the whole, however, we lacked the resources, other means and national level facilities to tackle specific situations where the UN might actually save land and lives.
This WG, and everything we have achieved together, was only a first small step. This is not to say that the WG has exhausted its original mandate. No doubt, there is more standard setting and monitoring that can be done in the field of indigenous peoples’ rights. But the next step must also be taken, with all possible urgency and energy. I am speaking of course about the Permanent Forum, which will convene its first session during May of 2002. The voting members of the Forum must be really independent, capable, and energetic, and this will not be possible unless Governments as well as indigenous peoples nominate persons of great character, integrity and experience. However, as I can attest from my very long experience within the UN system, in this WG and in other capacities, it is also supremely important to have an independent, highly qualified, totally dedicated secretariat that devotes itself year-round to indigenous peoples. The members of the new forum will formally meet for a week or two weeks each year, but for the rest of the year everything will depend on the quality and resources of the secretariat. I appeal to Governments to make every effort to see that the Forum receives adequate new financial resources for this purpose. I appeal to indigenous organisations to identify qualified indigenous people to serve with the other members of the Secretariat as staff of the Forum. And I appeal to Governments and indigenous peoples to work together with responsibility and method to ensure that the secretariat of the Forum under the able guidance of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, acting in her capacity as Coordinator of the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, is a distinct unit reporting directly to ECOSOC in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and decisions.
I have a few final remarks, which I would like to share with you. First, I would like to address myself to the Governments. Many of you have been with us since the beginning, and many of you have strengthened your commitments to the rights of indigenous peoples and I take this opportunity to pay tribute to you. A few of you have become more defensive, I am sad to say. But I am most concerned about very few Governments, who perhaps are not here today because they feel that what we are doing has no relevance to them. Or else they are unwilling to engage in a dialogue directly with indigenous peoples who live within their national borders. In this respect I would like to reiterate, that this Working Group has never beer interested in dismembering states, or promoting conflict and divisions within states. Our objective has always been to build better, more inclusive and democratic states in situations where one part of the national population has been persistently excluded and marginalized. Our aim has been to prevent conflict by promoting the recognition of human rights of indigenous peoples in an environment of justice under law. I think this has also been one of the basic goals of the great majority of indigenous people. Otherwise, they would not be here at the UN seeking peaceful resolution of their concerns.
With the establishment of the Permanent Forum, and the development of a new operational aspect to the UN’s commitment to indigenous peoples, we have a great opportunity to build peace and justice and to promote human development in very practical, concrete terms at the national, regional and international level. I appeal to you, distinguished representatives of observer Governments, to continue your support, and your active participation, to the UN for a considering indigenous issues, more than ever. And above all, I appeal to you to trust indigenous peoples to work with you constructively in a spirit of freedom and justice. As far as I know, indigenous peoples want your countries to prosper and grow strong, too – only not at their particular expense. And I would like to address to you the following additional appeal: do not limit the usefulness of this exercise by struggling to define who is an indigenous person. This exercise has much broader legal relevance; it is about finding ways of reconciling state sovereignty with the interests of diverse communities of peoples within the state. It is about the nearly universal challenge of cultural pluralism in modern, centrally administered societies that subscribe to constitutionalism, democracy, justice and the rule of law. Most states internally are heterogeneous in some way, and can learn from the process we have launched in this Working Group.
In conclusion, I wish to address some remarks to the distinguished representatives of indigenous peoples, who are here today. Do not lose hope; your momentum within the UN may appear to have slowed in some cases, but you stand at the threshold of significant new opportunities, presented in particular by the Permanent Forum. Your esteemed Elders in many countries have told me that everything in the world is always changing, and we should also change but without losing our spirit of friendship, solidarity, cooperation, Justice and Peace. It is in this spirit that I sincerely promise to you today, to continue to work with you, in other capacities, as long as I am alive, until my vision for a better, human and just indigenous world will be created. Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Special Activities at the 2001 WGIP session, Update on the World Conference Against Racism
The unedited draft declaration and the program of action for the World Conference on Racism can be found at the following website under the following subtitles http://www.racism.gov.za/ The meeting suggested indigenous peoples explore the document locating where indigenous peoples mentioned in the draft text. Interested individuals and communities can pursue two strategies. One is to draft language of one - two paragraphs. Another strategy is to edit the current draft and seek support of nations and NGOs participating in the WCAR in September.
Day 1, Monday PM, July 23, 2001
Working Group, Afternoon Session
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR (SR)
Mr Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur:
Good afternoon distinguished representatives of indigenous peoples (IPs), representatives of NGOs, dear friends. It is an honour for me to be present this week at the WGIP and I thank for the invitation extended to me. I would like to recall the first time I attended 18 years ago in 1983, I have not been able to attend all the meetings since, but I have been lucky to be present at some. Of course I have closely followed the work that the WGIP has carried out over the years. On this occasion I am here as Special Rapporteur appointed by the Commissioner of HR. It is a great honour to be appointed to this post by the chair of the CHR. I would publicly like to express gratitude to governments that nominated me as well as indigenous organisations and NGOs that supported my candidature to this post. I am aware that together you and I will have to open up new roads in the struggle for respect of HR of IPs. This is the first time the Commission of HR has set up the post of SR on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. I am aware that this appointment is the culmination of the lengthy work that organisations have carried out within the WGIP and other fora. The post of SR was created on the basis of proposals made by Indigenous Organisations
and was taken up by the Sub Commission and were ultimately approved by the Commission
of Human Rights. My presence here at the invitation of the WG is my first activity in my capacity of SR. I come with firm desire to serve and collaborate and learn with you and contribute positively and construct with the work the Working Group has carried out over the last years. I know some of you hope that the SR would present an agenda or program of work. This is not yet possible. My presence expresses the concern to consult with you to arrive at refining the fundamental goals and principal objectives that the SR must have. I recall the points established by the CHR when it set up the post is that it stated the SR should ask for and receive and exchange information and communication from all sources, government and indigenous peoples, on fundamental violations of HR. The SR should form and make recommendations to prevent and make reparations for violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of IPs. You can understand this is a wide mandate which can take us far. We must be clear and aware of priorities and the technical material and institutional means which the SR has at his disposal to achieve his objectives. In agreement with his mandate he must submit an annual report to CHR during the time of mandate. The first should be submitted March next year, but must now be end of this year. We have less than 6 months. This could be the first limitation at same time the recognition of this limitation is a challenge, for we need to work very closely together. I know that the work of the SR should not start from zero but must base on the tremendous work of the WG over the years. What can the SR do which has not yet been done? I am here to invite friends and colleagues of indigenous organizations to together to carry out an effort to define the priorities. What should be the objectives and the real possibilities to make sure the work of the SR is useful to indigenous peoples? I totally offer all my energy and time to work with indigenous organisations and take the opportunity of the annual meeting to make a preliminary contact with indigenous organizations from all the world meeting this week. This is the first contact. In months ahead I wish to have closer contacts and receive from you and other organizations not here, governments and other institutions, information, proposals, ideas which may be necessary for the work of the SR to be fruitful. This is what I would like to share with you and I am at you disposal to define the terms of collaboration. Thanks the chair for giving opportunities for speaking to the Indigenous Caucus. I invite the caucus to transmit ideas suggestions, and points of view.
Mr. Tony Gonzales, International Indian Treaty Council:
Thanks SR and appreciates the time he has taken to be present. Raises the issue of indigenous prisoners such as Leonard Peltier. We would like you to consider indigenous prisoners as an element to include in your study. With a six month period to report, an investigation of the situation of the indigenous peoples’ situation in Mexico, with particular reference to Chiapas would be an appropriate request.
Mr. Marcial Arias, Fundacion para la Promocion del Conocimiento
In the case of Mexican indigenous peoples, what will you do in relation to the massacre of 45 indigenous peoples who lost their lives at the hand of the PRI government and paramilitaries. Also mentions Mistikos massacred and the crimes committed, which were raised at the sub commission with regard to forced sterilization of indigenous women in Mexico, and of men who, under pretext of receiving money and food, were sterilized - against the agreements of UN. What will be your commitment regarding 100s of IPs held in Mexican prisons who do not know why they are held as they have no interpreters? Since this year, ILO convention 169 has to be ratified. I recall that Mexico and Norway were the first to sign it. After approval it was decided it was against the interests of IPs. The new law approved, which will be published in the official journal violates all provisions. Convention 169 has been violated. I would like to hear a commitment to Mexico.
Mrs. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Foundation:
Welcomes appointment of SR. Its about time one was appointed. Your task is not one to be envied. There are numerous violations of human rights of IPs all over. These are really very serious cases. First I would like to know more about the process to be used to be able to integrate input of IP victims and through what mechanism we are able to bring this to you? We just had a conference on conflict prevention, held in Manila. Participants raised issues relating to conflict and violations of rights. One suggestion was for IPs to hold tribunals themselves. It would create a space for IPs to present their own problems and views. Is this a mechanism you can participate in? We can invite you and you could include it in your report.
Mr. Willie Littlechild, International Organisation of Indian
Thank you on behalf of our organisation and in particular the Cree Nation. Our NGO has a number of tribes in North America and has ECOSOC status. For over 2 decades have been seeking full rights to self determination. Expresses concern that the SR’s appointment may present a threat to the continuation of the WGIP. Should the states opposed to the WGIP succeed in terminating the WGIP, we do not want to lose all the work that has been done. We need fair, transparent and effective implementation. Expresses urgent concern about the situation of the Samson Cree Nation. Canada violates the right to self-determination and the rights to govern ourselves. There is no need for violent confrontation in this matter. We have benefited when SRs came to our territories. We have high expectations for your appointment and invite you to visit Treaty 6 territory.
Mr Hassan Id Balkassem, Tamaynut:
First I would like to affirm or confirm what was said by the previous speaker. I would like to propose to you as SR on the situation of HR that you study the universal declaration on IPs and the ILO convention 169 concerning Ips. These declarations represent the minimum respect for IPs. Requests he study the right to self-determination and the constitutional situation in countries where IPs live, because most of the states blackmail the populations and deprive them of self-determination. Propose you dedicate several paragraphs to this, but would like to add that it should also contain a special part on the right to property while studying laws passed by past colonial masters that have been adhered to, which deprive indigenous peoples of land and right to water. It should contain a section on cultural life, cultural identity and practices of IPs in day to day life. They are deprived of these rights. Most of the IPs suffer from racial discrimination with regard to identity, culture, history, information and education. Notes that media and television never disseminates in native languages, although there are many languages of Ips. Invites SR to visit North Africa for to be aware of the suffering and deprivation. Mentions they are deprived of right to hold meetings and the recent massacres in Algeria
Mr. Lazaro Pary, Indian Movement Tupay Amaru:
Congratulates SR. When two countries presented on the draft of this post, Mexico and Guatemala, we were the only organisation which opposed. Why? First, there had been no consultations with IPs on the creation of the post. We worked for 29 years and we know what the functions of the SR should be. They have to resolve urgent problems, issues raised by communities and states. The SR would be an additional mechanism for IPs, but we did not think he would deal with urgent matters. We listened to why existing mechanism do not work for IPs. We only adopted two articles of the declaration. Why set up another mechanism to distract us from these issues? When I travel through Andean communities I witness grave violations of HR and expropriation of land through violence. How do you intend to carry out your task, and how will you decide to what are the needs? You will get info from 3rd sources. We suggested SR be an indigenous person, but the UN rejected this. We proposed Madam Daes but because of black mail real issues were side tracked.
Delegate from the World Adivasi Council:
Considering HR situation of indigenous peoples are deteriorating in last 50 years, proposes local suggestions. Even in the name of development and protection of Adivasis, many international projects have harmed them and brought them into extinction. An investigation should be made and international monitoring should be assured. There can be no peace, no hope no progress for IPs without understanding between communities and cultures. Without the protection of forest there can be no hope of survival of large number of IPs. This applies to the World Bank and funding agencies, including church agencies. A programme for worldwide promotion of understanding of peace and understanding should be implemented, including in text books and the media .
Congratulates SR. Agrees with Willie Littlechild. We know violations of indigenous peoples’ rights are frequently against collectives as well as individuals. How will you interpret your mandate in this context. Second question: In Asia and Africa there are a vast number of indigenous peoples who have encountered problems of human rights. They have an additional problem of governments not recognising them as indigenous peoples. Please pay attention to this region of the world.
Mr Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur:
First thanks speakers for comments made. I will repeat some ideas from this discussion. Indigenous prisoners is something which should be considered. The indigenous courts could help systematize the information and analysis on various human rights violations in different parts of the world. These and other ideas will be taken up by SR. Several people expressed concern as to what the SR can do about the enormous number of human right violations of indigenous peoples, these are individual violations of people in different situations as well as violations of collective rights of indigenous nations. How to process this information? I am also asking this question and am asking you for help with suggestions. First, through the Secretariat of the HCHR, we can set up a mechanism for receiving reports of all sorts of HR violations which your organisations would like to transmit. Asks Secretariat to help open up the mechanism to classify information so the SR will have reliable and objective and transparent information on human rights violations. I believe that has begun to function that there is now a database that will help us. I will ask the secretariat to open up a mailing list in which I will be able to receive all communications that you will transmit and that I will respond to as far as possible. These are the first steps. There can be other mechanisms, which in time we will elaborate. Thanks for the invitations to visit their countries to observe first hand. In terms of rules of UN all invitations must come from governments for the SR to make visit as SR. This is independent of personal interest I may have. Some raised wider issues I share with you. We have to deal with this. What is the purpose of the SR? What effect do they have? What difference can one more annual report make? All long journeys begin with one step. You have constructed a system in the UN by participating. I hope this will work in the same way. Have no illusions that the work of the SR will magically resolve all problems but every block has an important function and role. I am convinced of that, otherwise I would not be here. I am also concerned about mechanism of selection of SRs and officials as a whole. In time, these mechanisms which have a long history and tradition will be democratized as society needs to be democratized. Finally, in reply to number of personal questions posed about autonomy of indigenous peoples in my own country, Mexico. I expressed my concerns in the press regarding the situation before receiving this post. This applies to the massacre of the indigenous peoples mentioned. I have made these comments publicly and as SR my work is not just related to my country but to those in many parts of the world. I accept invitations to familiarize myself with situations in other continents, while I am aware of the enormous problems during my remit. I express gratitude for the opportunity to speak. I am at your disposal to meet with the regions tomorrow morning with representatives of regional organisations. The secretariat is organising this.
Day 2, Tuesday AM, July 24, 2001
Working Group, Morning Session
Review of developments pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. (DHRFF)
1. Mr Lazaro Pary (Indian Movement Tupay Amaru):
This morning I would like to express my feelings of gratitude to Mrs. Daes for her valuable contribution to cause of Indigenous Peoples. During the last 20 years Mrs Daes has gained respect, moral authority and skills. Our Movement Tupay Amaru has a special status and presented its candidate to post of Special Rapporteur. Unfortunately states have decided differently. Our organisation which has worked with her for many years hopes to continue to work with her.
Right to development.
We should talk about underdevelopment rather than the right to development. As Indigenous People see it, it is a long development. Every development model is conditioned by methods of production and distribution of all societies. Development does not depend on will or everyone. People must know social laws and apply them. The aboriginal civilizations of America based on collective land had already achieved high levels of development. This form of social organization demonstrates that in the societies there were no poor because each gained according to his work. Five centuries later, we discuss the re establishment of balance between man and nature. States have renounced the role of organizing production and distribution to the transnational enterprises. Investors of capital have set up a model with colonial connotations. Carrying out unlimited speculation on stock markets is a threat to welfare. Extracted wealth from developing countries and mutilated our nature, leaving only poor people behind. Globalisation on global level is the biggest impediment to Indigenous Peoples development. Our order was destroyed in 1492 with colonial arrival.
Debt is a universal scourge. According to the World Bank the foreign debt of the 3rd world at the end of 91 was 1.351 thousand million dollars. Dr. Cheru, the independent expert of the CH estimated at the start of 1996 the third world had a debt of 1,8 billion dollars with banks, Western governments and multilateral institutions. These astronomical figures meant that the weight of the debt for sub-saharan Africa represented 123% of its GNP, 41% in the case of Latin America and 28% in the case of Asia. The paradox is that fabulous wealth is being transferred from poor to rich countries. Mentions figures paid in debt servicing. These loans were given to autocratic and corrupt governments and dictatorships. Now we must recover the money stolen by these governments. The collapse of capitalism in Asia and Russia have highlighted failure of IMF and other agencies. The Working Group Indigenous Peoples should recommend code of conduct which is binding for transnational corporations and governments
2. Mrs. Sarah Sepoe (Deboin Peoples Foundation Papua New Guinea)
This years' theme is very challenging and sensitive in the globe today as the indigenous peoples of this planet are mobilising and speaking out loudly against the injustices that had lived with us for centuries. As we gather here today our indigenous peoples of the globe are ripped off, murdered, patented, etc let us behind our minds remember them too. Let us, indigenous peoples and colleagues present here take stock of our past history, our present and replenish our weakness and strategize our direction for the future to continue our struggle to protect our indigenous peoples and their right to development.
Today, Indigenous Peoples have no right to development, or choice to development. The choice of the development now is vested on the hands of the Trans-National Corporations (TNC) and the financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank with their collaborators like the World Trade Organizations.
These organizations had imposed trade agreements, policies onto respective governments and the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules limit the capacity of the governments to regulate international trade, or otherwise "interfere" with the activities of large corporations. In fact, WTO agreements are little more than extensive lists of policies, laws and regulations that government can no longer establish or maintain. The essential goal of the WTO is to deregulate international trade.
Some of these agreements prohibit trade measures such as controls on endangered species trade or bans on tropical timbers imports. Others prohibit regulations that might only indirectly influence trade, such as recycling requirements, magazine contents rules, energy-efficiency standards, and food-safety regulations. Still other rules proscribe government measures that have nothing at all to do with trade, such prohibitions against government regulation of the activities of foreign investors.
Because the primary goal of the free trade is to limit government law-making and regulatory authority, serious problems arise for the host of other policy initiatives that depend on such public controls. The establishment of free trade agreements has already created substantial new obstacles to environment protection, food safety regulations, cultural support programs, and resource conservation initiatives. If we are to achieve critical better environmental and social goals, the WTO must be transformed into an institution that will foster, rather than undermining the governments of the world.
The vulnerable small Pacific islands countries provide a unique opportunity to examine the role of indigenous peoples in biological diversity and their choice to development. For most Pacific island countries the majority of peoples are indigenous, and because of the retention of substantial elements of their traditional cultures, retain close ties to their land and its biological diversity. The indigenous peoples of the Pacific are custodians of outstanding global significance of the biological diversity, unfortunately indigenous peoples, their knowledge and their biological diversity have and are exploited in the name of development. This presentation would provide some cases that had been done in the Pacific.
Many of us here today would not have some idea of what Pacific; specifically Papua New Guinea has in its uniqueness and richness in the biological resources. We are rich but very poor; we have become victims of racism, globalization and exploitation structured to rip us, both biological resources including the Human Genes in the name of development.
Because of our location on the planet, Pacific Islands Countries (PIC) have lots of biodiversity; we are rich in plants. Because of our position on the planet, we receive a lot of sunlight, a lot of energy and a lot of rain. The islands are rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity. All indigenous peoples of the Pacific have inherited this richness, especially in diversity. Corresponding with richness in biodiversity is our poverty in terms of wealth. In contrast, the countries of the North are biodiversity-poor but wealthy countries and technology-rich.
Because of recent advances in science, biodiversity we've taken for granted, which had fed, nurtured, and healed us, is becoming more and more interest to the technologically rich but biodiversity-poor countries. The arrival of researchers and scientists in our countries, taking samples and plants for analysis overseas, is not a new event. The early explorers and missionaries did this activity and it continues to be unregulated. The resources were once considered as the "common heritage of humanity". In this I mean, there was a free-for-all. You couldn't say it was yours – if some one found something, took it away, did research on it and produced something useful that was the persons' reward.
This has all changed since the Convention on Biological Diversity, because we've come to realize that there is value in our plants, especially the knowledge and traditional ingenuity, but was never rewarded or compensated. How different is this traditional science for the science we have in laboratories conducted by men in white coats? Why is one compensated and protected by the law, while others are ignored and called "the common heritage of humanity", open for all to exploit. The world's genetic diversity exists within aboriginal territories. The world's human genetic diversity exists among indigenous peoples. So today, we are high priority research subject by scientist of the North today. Whose choice of development is to exploit indigenous peoples genes? How does the indigenous peoples benefit from stealing and patenting their DNA? Is this violation of fundamental rights and freedoms?
Pacific is rich in resources biodiversity not only natural but human gene. Scientists want to collect genetic material from indigenous peoples. We are at the situation where our bodies are facing the brand of colonization. Our bodies are considered a commodity protected by all of the laws that protect the rights of commercializers on the global scale.
Pacific has some very fine examples, which I wish to make some mention of as the events of pasts and present that I would highlight to this Working Group;
--- In 1997/8 in Samoa, the Mamala plant found throughout the Pacific. An American ethnobotanist working in a village in Samoa discovered a compound in the plant. He took it back for testing and they found it as promising anti-virus properties. That was the last time the local communities heard about this plant until February 1999, when it was found that patent had been taken out over the compound that had been found in the plant. The patent was in the name of the National Health Unit of the US Army and Bringham Young University.
--- In 1993, the Hagahai people in the remote areas of the Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. The Hagahai tribal people had very little exposure with the outside world. Their DNA cell was taken out of PNG for testing. Without the consent of the person, tribal peoples and government of PNG, the Hagahai DNA was patented in the United States. Hagahai DNA cell line is now available for sale on internet – you can order up a copy of their human DNA, viable living cells – full of life essence of the Hagahai people – for US$218 from the American Culture Collections in Maryland in the USA.
--- In 1992, The US Department of Commerce filed a patent claim on the human T-cell lines of a 40 years old woman from the Western Province and a 58-year-old man from Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands. The cell lines could be useful in producing vaccines and/or diagnosing human T- lyphotropic virus type 1. Because of the protests by the governments of Solomon Islands, these biopiracy claims were withdrawn. This is a last word we heard since then we don't know the latest.
--- Norfolk Islands has signed a DNA research agreement in early 2000 with researchers from the Griffith University in Australia.
--- The Australian company Autogen Limited plans to collect DNA samples in Tonga, to analyze them and identify genes predisposed to medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Under the agreement, the Tongan government had given Autogen the exclusive rights to commercialize and sell genetic information to medical researchers.
--- Cross species – genetic manipulation – some of our indigenous peoples of Aotearoa (New Zealand) have some part of their DNA in animals like sheeps. They have the ability to cross species barriers with genetic manipulation into plants, animals and humans.
The Theme for Working Group on Indigenous Populations this year is "Indigenous Peoples and their right to development" is appropriate that gives us the Indigenous Peoples around the world the opportunity to raise concerns about the right to development and its impact on Indigenous Peoples.
The Indigenous Peoples and their right to development in the Papua New Guinea country situation is very different, this is because our choice of development are imposed on to the government by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank with their partner organisations such as WTO, APEC through their policies, laws which undermines the peoples choice or right to development as second priority to the imposed right to development.
Last month, Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea came to stand still for a week, all government offices and private sector not operating after the peaceful public protest staged outside the National Parliament. This public protest was against the World Banks' Structural Adjustment Program which one policy forced by the national government implement the "compulsory registration of customary land (in PNG, people own 97% of the land while the state owns only 3%). Another policy that the general public opposed was the sale of public service entities to private corporations. This successful peaceful public protest turned into nightmare when the government used the police to dispatch the crowd. Two university students and a non-student were shot dead by the police.
On the 19th July 2001, our Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta had said we have no choice but to implement the conditions of the World Bank and IMF. The vulnerable small island states like PNG have very little choice to development since many choices to development are imposed on the government.
The Declaration on the Right to Development adopted by the General Assembly in 1986, this Declaration states that development is "a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals on the basis of their active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom.
This Declaration does not make any mention of the external forces like the Trans-National Corporations as well as the financial institutions such as World Bank, IMF and ADB whose policies affect state responsibility of creating favourable national and international conditions for the achievement of the human right to development.
What right to development do the indigenous peoples have when these organizations had imposed trade agreements, policies onto respective governments and their rules limit the capacity of the governments to regulate international trade, or otherwise "interfere" with the activities of large corporations? I think this is any regime of colonization on the Indigenous Peoples.
3. Mrs. Ambreen Hisbani (World Sindhi Congress)
Sindh is an area covering about. 58.000 miles extending northwards from the Indian Ocean and straddling in to Indo-Pak border. 30million inhabitants. The "Indus Civilization" is considered to about ten thousand years old, and still surviving in the villages and towns of Sindh. Sindhis are not an ethnic minority or sub-nationality, but a historical nation.
In 1947 Sindh were asked to either join India or Pakistan when the British rulers left India. The original independent status of Sindh was not restored. Sindh joined Pakistan for the Pakistan Resolution of 1940 promised autonomy and sovereignty for the constituent units. The result of this was a state of economical, political and social hegemony and a terrible Human Rights situation.
Pakistan is now under de-facto martial law. A military general is a president. We believe that crisis and instability in Pakistan, derive from the country`s composition in the present form, in which one province (Punjab) has an overwhelming domination in all spheres of power. Indigenous Peoples of smaller provinces, especially Sindh and Baluchistan, are being denied their due political, economical, social and cultural rights.
Issues threatening to indigenous population of Sindh
Exploitation of Sindh resources and economy. 70% of the Pakistan budget is spent on defense. To justify this the Pakistan government engages in regional war. We Sindhis find this engagement neither morally justifiable or economically viable. On one hand Pakistan is spending millions on Nuclear arms while Indigenous Peoples are suffering from drought and famine. The Sindh remains the largest contributor to the Pakistan Government (70% federal taxes; 50% overall income) the province is now bankrupt and not able to develop meaningfully.
People of Indus without the Water from River Indus
Experts say that through the unfair policies of federal government and because of the construction of dams and barrages on the flow of the Indus, the flow of river water of the Indus has reduced resulting into serious ecological imbalance, reducing agricultural production and recurrent famines in Sindh. Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators protesting the government policy of unfair distribution have been put in jails. Two people have been killed by government agencies.
Economic Deprivation and its effect on Society
Unemployment rate is at its peak in Sindh. People are resorting to suicides and crime and drug addiction is at its rise.
Systematic Suppression of Indigenous Culture and Language
The Sindhi language has been marginalized by the government to such an extent that its survival is under threat. There are only 30 minutes Sindhi broadcasting allowed on TV. Sindhi schools are shut down. The State engages itself in Pan-Islamic propaganda which threatens the Sindh people. The suppression of Sindhi culture and the dominance of state-imposed social life creates hopelessness among the indigenous people of Sindh.
Religious Intolerance as a threat to Indigenous People
The current setup in Pakistan thrives on religious dogmatism and intolerance. There exist numerous laws and policies that diminish socio-political status of religious minorities and sects. There exists separate electorate for Non-Muslims. Blasphemy is still intact and practised. Government provides its patronage to Madarasaa Schools a hub for pan-Islamist militancy. Sindhi people are both Muslim and Hindus and this religious intolerance is a threat to our culture and population.
Violation of Civil Rights and District Election Policies
Current dictatorial government of Pakistan has come up with a so-called district election plan which blatantly violates civil and political rights of all nations and religious minorities in Pakistan. This plan in is its inherent nature violates article 1 of the international covenant on civil and political rights, which proclaims inalienable right of self-determination. This plan will not only isolate the religious minorities more as it is based on discriminatory separate electorate and will also strengthen the direct rule of Federal Government over Indigenous people of smaller provinces of Pakistan.
The situation in Sindh and for the Indigenous population of Sindh is worsening day by day. We Sindhis have come to the conclusion that the current strong federal structure leaves no room for negotiating a fair sharing of power and recourses and are demanding the right of self-determination. I would like to reiterate that the right of self-determination was promised to all provinces in the Pakistan Resolution of 1940, under whose condition the Sindh accepted to join the Federation of Pakistan. As per the U.N. Charter and International Convent, we also believe that the right of Self-Determination is Sindhi`s inherent inalienable right. By virtue of this right, Sindhis should be allowed to determine their own political status to pursue economic, social and cultural developments. 54 years of atrocities and discrimination by the Pakistani State poses a severe threat of extinction to Indigenous People and culture of Sindh and Sindhis. Therefore we request this body and other Human Rights as well as environmental activists to influence Pakistan to stop this violation of Human Rights and grant us the right to Self-Determination.
4. Mr. Adam Kuleit Ole Mwarabu (The Parakuiyo Community, Tanzania)
I would like to take your floor by paying homage to all people who have sponsored our participation in the 19th session of United Nations Working Group on Indigenous populations.
As a representative of the Ilparakuiyo in Tanzania I would like to thank our fellow Indigenous peoples from Africa and other continents for their struggle for the recognition of Pastoralist and Hunter and gatherer Communities in Africa as indigenous people.
It is a decade now or so since the start of struggle among African indigenous communities and organisations for their development. African indigenous communities and their organizations are less capacitated in solving the chronic problems in their homelands. Poverty, illiteracy and domination of non- indigenous communities in politics just to mention a few have been an obstacle to the struggle for their development. Denial of one group identifying itself as native or indigenous more than the dominant group has always been unaccepted by many African Governments. It is high time for the improvement of indigenous peoples right to development and culture. This would create good cooperation between Indigenous and Non-indigenous people in development activities.
The Parakuiyo pastoralists are now putting much emphasis on education. Since 1995, they have been in a plan to build three secondary schools for the first time in their history. The three schools are going to be built in Coast, Morogoro and Tanga Regions. The Chief Traditional Leader among the Parakuiyo, with a help of his assistants (traditional leaders) and other influential people in the community are working together to mobilising the Parakuiyo, to see the importance of education and sending more children to school. Some indicators of this have been observed as the collection of contributions to build a secondary school in Bagamoyo District in Coast Region is going on. And also more than 30 children are already in secondary schools. The Parakuiyo pastoralists are now prioritising education as a tool that would help them to create strategies, which will protect their lands and preserve their culture. On the other hand the Parakuiyo would be happy if the education system is improved in the country to fit to their traditions and cultures.
Encroachment of other economic activities into Parakuiyo areas, and neglect of pastoralism mode of production have been the source of the decline of livestock economy among the Parakuiyo. The eviction of the Parakuiyo pastoralists from "Oloililai le Mwasuni" in 1988 is a top down development approach that caused them economic hardship, lack of enough grazing land, lack of traditional medicines and more frequent conflict with cultivators in areas where they have been squeezed to live. This area that is now called "Mkomazi Game Reserve" was gazette as a reserve in 1951 without the consent of the first inhabitants. Mkomazi Game Reserve was a good grazing land and its management drawn from customary law, now has its boundaries and management regulations stipulated in the wildlife conservation Act of 1974. Mkomazi Game Reserve that extended into Kilimanjaro and Tanga Regions is a suitable area for livestock keeping. And was also a home for Parakuiyo "Iloibonok" (Religious Leaders) of Tilian family.
Parakuiyo pastoralists in Kilosa District in Morogoro Region have similar problems like that of Mkomazi. The Parakuiyo pastoralists of Kiduhi village have their piece of land estimated to be 30,000 acres grabbed by Mikumi National Park Authorities, for park purposes without their consent after its is gazette as a national park in 1953. Following shortage of grazing some pastoralists have migrated into other adjacent areas in Morogoro,Iringa and Mbeya regions. The Parakuiyo are becoming land less people and minorities, due to an increased number of people coming into their areas and now have full domination in decision- making process. For many years now the Parakuiyo are in conflict with Agriculturists over land use. This situation is fueled by the competition of people who practice different types of production living in the same area. Recalling conflicts erupted into fighting in Kilosa between September and December in 2000 many things need to be done to solve land problems not only in this area but also all over the cou