Jul 31, 1998

Report on the 16th session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations

Monday, July 27, 1998
Day 1, Morning Session

1. Mr. Ter Horst: On behalf of the High Commissioner for Human Rights opens the sixteenth session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Takes this opportunity to welcome government representatives, indigenous organizations, NGOs and representatives of the UN organizations and specialized agencies. The Working Group stands out as a high point on the human rights calendar not only because of the high number of participants but also because of the diversity of regions represented. Addresses a special welcome to the new indigenous peoples present. Recalls that the first session of the Working Group was in 1982. The establishing resolution called on the Working Group to consider the elaboration of standards and review the rights pertaining to the promotion and protection of indigenous people. Notes the provisional agenda includes two Sub-Commission studies, that on treaties formerly concluded with indigenous peoples prepared by Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez and that on indigenous peoples and their relationship to land prepared by Ms. Erica Daes. Says the Working Group will also consider the establishment of a Permanent Forum, the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Populations and other matters relevant to the realization of its mandate. Refers to the decision of the Commission on Human Rights to organize a seminar on indigenous heritage to be held in November of this year. Says the agenda is full and wishes all members well in their deliberation. Invites members of the Working Group to nominate the Chairperson.

2. Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez: Thanks Chairperson for the honor of nominating Dr. Erica Daes. Praises the human and technical qualities of newly elected Chairperson.

3. Judge Guisse: Says he supports the proposal of Mr. Alfonso Martinez and requests Ms. Daes to accept the Chair of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. Promises to effectively support her work and says the indigenous peoples are waiting impatiently for her to take the Chair.

4. Chairperson/Rapporteur: Considers Ms. Erica Daes elected by acclamation to the chair for the sixteenth session of the Working Group. It is so decided.

5. Mrs. Erica–Irene Daes, Chairperson: Greets delegates and Deputy High Commissioner and wishes him well and every success. Wishes to express thanks to Working Group for election of Chairperson of WG. Particular honor of chairing Working Group and is conscious of great responsibility associated in chairing Working Group, undertaken with thoughtfulness and seriousness. First elected as Chairperson in 1984 in a fair and democratic manner. Highlights need to conduct deliberations of Working Group in the most equitable and productive manner. Over time, the Working Group has established a forum in which serious situations can be discussed in an open manner, and substantive solutions can be shared between all concerned. The recommendations are action oriented and thanks to the Sub-Commission on prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the Commission on Human Rights, most of them have been already implemented. Implores the delegates to maintain a spirit of frankness and openness during the conference. Wishes to welcome delegates to the sixteenth session of the Working Group and appreciates the efforts made to get here. Offers a special welcome to the 48 indigenous representatives that have been supported by the United Nations Voluntary fund on Indigenous Populations as well as the 5 indigenous fellows who are participating in the United nations Indigenous Fellowship Program within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Wishes to recall 1984, her first meeting as Chairperson. There were few governmental observers, only about 40 indigenous representatives and some representatives of the NGO’s. Whole regions of the world were not represented or under-represented. It would have been unthinkable that the General Assembly might one day proclaim an International Year of the World’s Indigenous People and to celebrate it at the General Assembly Hall, even less that it would launch an International Decade, with the main goal to improving the living conditions of indigenous peoples around the globe; in addition, the creation of two Voluntary Funds to contribute to the participation of the indigenous peoples and the annual sessions of the Working Group and to the implementation of the objectives of the International Decade. Further, it could be difficult to assess at that time the significant contribution to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples made by the studies and working papers, such as the study on treaties, the protection of the indigenous heritage and the paper on land rights. Wishes to underline that the elaboration of the historic draft of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was unbelievable at that time. In considering the progress made by the Working Group, it can be considered “the single most influential international forum within the United Nations”. Every significant change that has occurred owes much to the constructive and peaceful work undertaken by all participants, particularly the indigenous representatives and the representatives of governments. The Working Group remains the catalyst for change in indigenous affairs for the United Nations system. Stresses the importance of past lessons and looks forward to continue to make constructive proposal and recommendations, and to seek new ways of peaceful and friendly cooperation, reconciliation where necessary and mutual understanding. These ideas are based on the important resolution 1998/13 adopted by the Commission on Human Rights without a vote. WG most successful due to constructive dialogue. Says the Working Groups have established the practice of hearing the voices of indigenous peoples the direct messages of indigenous elders, women, youth, community leaders and others on the basis of which a constructive dialogue has developed with the active participation of the observer Governments concerned. Underlines that the fruitful cooperation between indigenous peoples, the governments and United Nations must be based on confidence building measures and on the open and full participation of indigenous peoples in the relevant work of the United Nations system. Draws attention to the new arrangement of the agenda for this session. Recalls the working group made every effort to improve the methods of its work and decided at its fifteenth session to separate the items of the part of the work dealing with “review of developments”. Under item 4, we will hear general statements concerning the review of developments; under item 5, we will debate the “indigenous peoples education and language”. Says one recent development of great concern to all of us is the fact that indigenous peoples themselves made every effort to establish in certain countries their own schools and educational institutions including universities. Under item 7 of the draft agenda, she suggests the continuation of the review the area of standard setting. Informs that the third session of the open-ended inter-session Working Group established by the Commission on Human Rights to review the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People met here in Geneva in October 1997. Recalls that it adopted at first reading two articles of the draft without any change. Also recalls her continuing role as Special Rapporteur of the Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities on the Study on the Protection of Indigenous Heritage and informs that the Commission on Human Rights has requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize a seminar on the draft principles and guidelines on the protection of indigenous heritage elaborated by her. Says under item 8, Mr. Miguel Alfonso Maritnez will present his final report of the Study on Treaties, Agreements and other constructive arrangements between States and indigenous populations. Under item 9, she will present her working paper on Indigenous People and their Relationship to Land. Item 10 is the consideration of a Permanent Forum for Indigenous People. Under item 11, entitled International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, the participants may raise points and address issues relating to the work already done on the Decade. Reminds participants to continue to be the generator of ideas and the catalyst for action so that indigenous peoples be equal parteners in the United Nations system.

6. Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez: Congratulates Ms. Erica–Irene Daes on her election. Says they will all benefit from her experience and skills in leading the work to be carried out. The provisional agenda takes into account all decisions the Working Group has taken on the different subjects to be dealt with. Agrees with the clarifications made by the Chairperson on items 4, 5 and 6. Because of pressure of time suggests that a flexible approach be adopted in considering these items and that participants be allowed to make reference to them in a single statement. Says this would expedite the work of this long agenda items. As a second point suggests a new sub-paragraph be added to item 12. This new sub-paragraph a) would be devoted to analyzing the resources available from the OHCHR to carry out the work relating to indigenous peoples, particularly those that have to do with the International Decade. Recalls the international decade is reaching mid-term and notes the restructuring of the OHCHR may alter the way in which these matters are dealt with. Points out there is no detailed information on the extent to which resources available correspond to the tasks to be undertaken. On item 10, says the Secretariat should provide members with the two documents available on this topic. Moreover, says the Secretariat should provide members with the status of documentation that will be examined under the various agenda items.

7. Mrs. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Thanks Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez and his suggestions, and agrees with him. Welcomes Judge Guisse for his comments.

8. Judge Guisse: Thanks Chairperson and congratulates Chairperson, wishes to receive all documents discussed in the meeting, feels it is important that the boundaries and contents of documents are made available to all delegates.

9. Mrs. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Requests the Secretary to take the necessary measures to ensure the availability of all documents in English. Asks for the adoption of the agenda. Declares the agenda is adopted without a vote.

10. Mr. Joe Potts, Alexis Nakoda Nation. Canada. Makes a ceremonial prayer.

11. Mrs. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Announces the Working Group will hold a private meeting at 3h30 in a private office. A private meeting will also be held in Room XVIII for all indigenous peoples wishing to discuss agenda items and prepare tomorrow’s work.

12. Mr. Julian Burger, Secretariat: Congratulates election of Chairperson. Two announcements, first for Indigenous Peoples: daily allowance available from 3pm to 4pm in room E1066. Secondly the notice board outside has information concerning the afternoon activities available.

13. Mrs. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Thanks Secretariat for announcements and hands floor to Mr . Miguel Alfonso Martinez.

14. Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez: reminds about the status of documents.

Tuesday, July 28, 1998
Day 2, Morning Session

1. Ms. Erica Daes, Chairperson: Declares open the second meeting of the sixteenth session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Recalls that members of the Working Group met yesterday afternoon in private session to discuss the organization of work and other important matters. Due to the heavy agenda and large number of participants, the Working Group agreed on the following issues. First, the Working Group appeals to all speakers to be as concise as possible in order to allow all participants to take the floor. The cooperation of everyone is needed. Reminds all participants that the Working Group is not a chamber of complaint and that only agenda items must be addressed. The Working Group has no mandate to take action on specific allegations and complaints. Second, invites speakers to combine statements on items 4, 5 and 6. Third, notes the speaker's list on item 4 will be closed at noon today. Requests all participants wishing to speak to register as soon as possible. Fourth, informs participants that following review, this morning, of the speakers list, a more concrete program of work will be put forth. Reminds participants that the speaker's list on all items is now open. Opens item 4 on review of developments pertaining to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people: general statements. Gives the floor to Mr. Armand McKenzie.

2. Mr. McKenzie, Innu Council of Nitassinan: Thanks chairperson. Wishes to make a statement regarding the indigenous people of Canada especially Quebec and Newfoundland. One multinational is currently exploiting Canadian indigenous people's land with a 4.5 billion dollar project. The Innu community will suffer due to the proposed second largest hydro-electric power project. These vast enterprises pose a real threat to Innu's cultural integrity. Points out that the draft declaration on indigenous people 1995/32, provides for indigenous people to manage and use their land, effective protection measures of land, economic and cultural development. Also highlights that all people may freely dispose and develop land. Says that the hydro-electric power and mining projects are being carried out without consent of the indigenous peoples. These projects will damage the Innu land and environment. For this reason, there is an urgent need for settlement of land rights, urges the Canadian government to pursue justice to protect the rights of the Innu indigenous people. In conclusion, it is the Canadian government's duty to face up to its responsibilities, and to protect the Innu territories which are constantly being abused by Quebec and Labrador.

3. Mr. Gartril Djerrkura, Chairman, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission: Addresses distinguished members of the Working Group, indigenous brothers ad sisters from other parts of the world. Says the last twelve months have been difficult for Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Notes it is both comforting and sad for him to know how man of their indigenous brothers and sisters are concerned about what is happening in Australia. Says Australia has in recent times lost its political way and direction. Says evil has crept into the body politic. Underlines that it is being fueled by cocktail of anger, fear and ignorance. Says disillusion with the major political parties has resulted in a backlash from regional Australia. Stresses that the most disadvantaged people in Australian society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are among the chief scapegoats targeted by an increasingly vocal minority. Says the newly emerged One Nation right wing political party is conducting a malicious campaign of disinformation against the indigenous peoples. States that rural and remote residents are seeing their towns die, their markets disappear to a wave of cheap imports, their young abandoning the family farm for the cities. Says there is not history of sympathy to indigenous interests by State and territory governments. States there is concern about the continuing prospect of extinguishing of native title and the limited access of native titleholders to pastoral leases. Recalls that many hundreds of thousands of Australians took part in National Sorry Day on the 26th of May this year to mark the separation of indigenous children from their families. The growth in the people's movement for reconciliation demonstrates there is still a strong sense of common decency running through Australian society.

4. Mr. Atencio Lopez, Nabguana Association: Congratulates the Chairperson on her election. Says indigenous peoples are very grateful to her. Notes the Nabguana are complying with the recommendations adopted in previous meetings and draws attention to activities carried out in coordination with other organizations. Refers to the intercontinental meeting organized in November 1997 on the diversity of the human genome. Discussions focused on the way in which indigenous people were used for experiments on human genes. Appreciates the note in the agenda on the use of human beings for these purposes. Refers to the organization in 1997 of the Second International Indigenous Conference on the establishment of a permanent indigenous forum. Draws attention to the first WIPO Round Table on indigenous intellectual property held last week in Geneva. Such developments are very important to indigenous people. Notes the important work done by the UN organizations and agencies. Looks forward to the future with optimism as important progress is being made.

5. Chairperson: Mr. Nilo Cazuqueo not present, reminds delegates that if a speaker is not present, the floor cannot be given later.

6. Rod Towney, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council: Thanks Chairperson, welcomes opportunity to speak for Australia. Wishes to draw attention to Draft declaration regarding land rights. Highlights the recent decision made by the Australian high court marking the first time that continent has recognized that it was first inhabited by the indigenous people – the aborigines. This decision dealt with the aboriginal property rights of land and the fact that these indigenous people are entitled to possession and occupation of land. This decision is only applicable to currently owned land, partial leases also allow indigenous people rights to native land as title rights have recently been recognized by the high court. However, the rights of the indigenous people to negotiate with the mining companies and Australian government may be ignored if it is in interests of the state which will probably rest with the mining companies. The elements of hysterical paranoia and racism in some sections of the Australian community have pressured the mean-spirited and ideologically- blinkered government into winding back the enlightened decisions of our highest court. Recent findings of the federal court are a step forward for the recognition of indigenous rights in Australia. There is a failure of the australian political legal system to adequately deal with the Rights of indigenous peoples to ensure their survival as distinct and autonomous peoples.

7. Mr. Arthur Campeau, from the Secretariat, Convention on Biological Diversity: Says his delegation played in the negotiations of the CBD in Nairobi, where Peru made an intervention which then allowed the launching of the long and arduous debates as to the inclusion of the need to preserve, protect and maintain the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities. States that parties would promote and agree on national measures relating to access to the lands traditionally inhabited by indigenous peoples and local communities as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of traditional lands. Recalls that the "Madrid Process" encouraged dialogue and allowed the meeting of COP 4 in Bratislava to present options for recommendations to COP 4. Says that pressure was strongly applied by one country and handful of other Governments for the exclusion of Native Peoples from any session where actual negotiations were taking place. Notes that despite these objections, indigenous peoples had been afforded an opportunity to participate in the discussion on various draft discussion papers. Says COP 5 will take place in May 2000 in Nairobi, advices and recommends on actions or steps to be taken. Adds that lot of work had to be made until then.

8. Ms. Erica Daes, Chairperson: Regrets the statement was so long despite prior warning. Says she refrained from interrupting because of the importance of the statement. As from now speaking time will be strictly observed, irrespective of the speaker.

9. Judge Guisse: Says that members of the Working Group have agreed to make sacrifices and talk in less than the allocated speaking time because of the large number of participants wishing to take the floor. Statements of the kind just made significantly impede the effective progress of the important work at hand. Requests the Chairperson to be firmer in the implementation of the speaking time.

10. Erica Daes, Chairperson: Thanks Judge Guisse for his statement and says she will enforce the limited speaking time.

11. Mr John Campbell, Representative of Australia: Wishes to update delegates on indigenous peoples affairs in Australia. No meaningful recognition while indigenous people suffer poor health, poor education and welfare dependence. Says that the day is getting closer when all indigenous people will have equal rights and recognition. Blindness affects indigenous people ten times more in Australia than non indigenous Australians, this problem is exacerbated by the remoteness of indigenous groups. The government has provided a free treatment which is particularly effective and should result in a rapid decrease in cases. The government's commitment is demonstrated by an almost 40 % increase in government spending in the department of indigenous health. Says that government has enlisted help of Australian army to upgrade infrastructures, housing and water supplies for indigenous people to a safe and healthy standard. A new project is currently underway with the aim of reuniting seperated indigenous families and assisting missing relatives to be found. A new counseling advice bureau is to be set-up for these families and a book is to be published to record this new section of Australian history. Government seeking to reform legislation to provide an effective scheme for the protection of indigenous cultural heritage. In 1997, a new council was appointed which developed and submitted to the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, a comprehensive and strategic plan which focuses on achieving outcomes for the reconciliation process that Australians can celebrate as they enter the new millennium.

12. Mr. Chinen Hidenori, Shiemin Gaikou Center: Says he came from Okinawa which is located between China and Japan, and says he is grateful that the United Nations gives gave him the opportunity to speak abut his homeland, Okinawa, which used to be called Ryukyu. Says that since Japan unilaterally annexed his country, Okinawan language has been relegated to the status of being merely a dialect of the Japanese language. Notes that the Government has campaigned to eliminate this dialect completely. Says that since formal teaching of Okinawa language was forbidden to the younger generations, the language is in danger of dying.

13. Mr. John Scott, New South Wales Aboriginal Education Consultative Group: Expresses surprise at the statement made by the Australian representative. Says the problems of aboriginal blindness are severe but not as severe as that of the Australian Government with respect to indigenous rights. Sending the army to distribute antibiotics is a poor substitute for having failed to provide adequate services and basic infrastructure. Notes the report presented was vastly inadequate. Moreover, the amendment to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, 1976, has not struck the right balance and will be challenged in the High Court. Explains the Australian Government believes the pendulum has swung to far in favor of indigenous rights. Yet statistics indicate the Aboriginal and Strait Islander peoples still have the worst health statistics, the shortest life expectancy, the highest unemployment and imprisonment rates and the poorest educational outcomes of any Australian community. The last 12 months have seen an unprecedented attack on indigenous rights. Draws attention to the rise of the right-wing extremist political party One Nation. Although it is currently polling at 15 per cent it has influenced the national agenda and ruling Conservative Party. Of particular concern is the recently proposed Federal Government's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Bill. Says the Bill proposes to restrict access to the Commonwealth Act and the accreditation of the majority of State and Territory laws without improvement to bring them up-to-date with international standards. Moreover, it imposes a new consideration of national interest, which fundamentally changes the nature of the Commonwealth's involvement in indigenous heritage protection and the relationship between Commonwealth, State and Territory regimes. Notes Aboriginal peoples are not against the reform of the 1984 Heritage Act. However, the clear and underlying attempt by the Federal Government to wash its hands of Aboriginal issues goes against the 1967 referendum. Indigenous Heritage Protection should demand the attention of the Federal Government, not its withdrawal. The Commonwealth has an obligation to take a leadership role in Aboriginal affairs. Culture and Heritage protection should not be left to the States that have a history of violation of indigenous rigths. National standards are required and must reflect the unique characteristics of indigenous rights.

14. Mr. Ogawa Ryukichi, Ainu National: Wishes to speak on behalf of the Ainu people and share a violation of these indigenous people's rights. Japan's government assumed common land 100 years ago without discussion with the Ainu people and has no intention to negotiate now. These indigenous people are currently trying to gain rights through court, and will continue to carry on the struggle. Hope that this will be given particular attention in Ms Daes' paper .

15. Mr. Miguel Alfonso Matinez: Suggests that observers be allowed to speak on items 5 and 6 and to extend the deadline for registration to permit them to do so.

16. Ms. Erica-Irene Daes: Says she will consider the position and will give her views during her remarks before concluding the morning session.

17. Mr. Marcos Matias, ALTEPELT Asamblea Nacional Indigena: In view of the alarming situation confronting indigenous people in South East Mexico, takes this opportunity to inform members of the state of the conflict between the Zapatist National Liberation Armz and the Federal Government. All the methods of negotiations have, so far, failed to achieve the results sought after. Confidence is shattered, there is a total absence of communications between the parties and absence of mediation. Explains the indigenous people of Mexico are suffering form growing poverty and many have been displaced due to the spreading conflict. There is also a growing state of impunity and continued expulsion of international observers. Notes the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, expressed alarm at the grave deterioration of the situation. She suggested the adoption of the following steps: First, reduction of the presence of the army in the area; Second, the setting-up of a UN office of human rights and third, the research of new forms of dialogue, of negotiation and communication. Stresses it is necessary to establish a new body to ensure mediation. Indigenous people have been involved for some time in the various mechanisms to resolve the issues. Indigenous peoples and Mexicans do not want more violence and recognize the efforts undertaken by the Government to resolve the problem.

18. Ms. Neva Collings, Indigenous Law Centre/ University of New South Wales: Says there is a diminished commitment to civil and political rights of all Australian citizens. Australian government has recently slashed the budget for racial and sexual discrimination by 45%, resulting in an increase in race based complaints. Government claims that the protection of all human rights will remain the same under the new commission. Claims that funds applied by the government in "an efficient and streamlined manner", can be aligned with the increase of human rights violations. The Australian government's attention appears to be drawn to general non-specific human rights issues, such as housing, and health, and not the specific human rights of the indigenous people.

19. Mr. Francis Tapim, Chairman, National Secretariat of Torres Strait Islander Organization: thanks the decision of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission to fund the establishment of the national secretariat and to provide capital for its own building. Says as Torres Strait Islanders they assert their rights as a separate race of indigenous people in Australia. Seeks definitional distinction from other indigenous Australians on the basis of differences in language, customs, traditions and heritage. Says their own unique Ailan Dastom has statutory recognition in the Aboriginal and Toress Strait Islander Commission Act 1989. Underlines that all Australians must now come to recognize the sense of destiny involved in recognition of their shared future.

20. Mr. Ric Robinson, Association of Norfolk Islanders: Recalls the UN Association of Australia issued a report in 1978 criticizing Australia's Human Rights record in relation to the dependent territory of Norfolk Island. In 1979, the Australian Government granted the people of Norfolk Island a limited form of self-government without consulting the people as to how it was going to be established. Points out all the laws passed by the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly can be overturned by the Commonwealth of Australia. Says that earlier this year the Australian Government announced that it was going to change the electoral laws so that Australian Citizens could vote and stand as candidates for the legislative body within one month of arriving on the Island. The Norfolk Island Government is opposed to this. Says it is the third time in 15 years the Australian Government has tried to interfere with the Norfolk electoral process. States the situation of the Norfolk Islanders has worsened in the last year.

21. Mr. Frank Guivarra, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Legal Services: Says the recent developments concerning the native titles to land may or may not have an effect on the ability of the organization to carry out its work. NAILS recommends that Governments draft and enact legislation dealing with indigenous organizations with a view to building the confidence of indigenous peoples to establish such organizations without any impediments from the State. Trusts that the above recommendations will be acceptable. Says control should rest with the indigenous communities.

22. Mr. Kazanokov Tevvezh, International Circassian Association: States that the demographic situation of the Circassian area has changed from 4 millions before the Russian–Caucasian war to 80 thousand after the genocide and forciable deportation and to 700,000 indigenous people today. Mentions that the process of consolidation of the three indigenous republics has been problematic, and is constantly encountering hurdles such as having three different identities in the passeports for the same people. Denounces that the candidates for the high positions in these three republics heavily depend on the Russian speaking electorate, and that these candidates can not fully defend the interests of the Circassian people . Says that people of the circassian diaspora have difficulties using their native language and practising their culture (in Turkey they can not even use their proper circassian names), and that is why they fear to be assimilated and there is a tendency to return to their historic homeland. .Appeals to the United Nations for pressure to be put on the government of Russia to use the statement of the item E, part 3 of the Article 19 of the "Admission to Russian Citizenship" law, and states that the United Nations cannot remain indifferent to the plight of the Circassian people.

23. Ms. Mini Begawan Cordilla Indigenous Peoples Legal Resource Center: says the Philippine Government has recently signed into law the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act of 1997, which supposedly recognized had promotes indigenous people's rights, including land rights. Says one must not be deceived into thinking that the Philippine indigenous peoples are happy with this new law. States that the law has tow components; one is the supposed recognition of ancestral land rights of indigenous peoples through the issuance of certificates of ancestral land titles. Says such titles are to be obtained through expensive and very confusing manner. Emphasizes that this provision will disenfranchise hundreds of indigenous peoples who cannot afford this process. Says the danger of this provision is that it limits the concept and coverage of ancestral lands. Urges for the adoption of the Declaration as soon as possible so that the rights of indigenous peoples are not compromised by national legislation.

24. Mr. Sidha Chinnappan, Rural Peoples Forum for Social Action: Concerning language and education, says tribal languages are not used in education. Teachers do not know tribal languages so tribal children struggle to follow the curriculum and often drop out. Notes this is common to all tribal areas. To facilitate access of tribal children to the education system teachers should know tribal languages and the curriculum should include issues of importance to tribal people. Points out some proposals have been included in the new Constitution but have yet to be implemented. Appeals to the Government of India to make sure that tribal teachers participate in the education and that education of tribal children is relevant to their life.

25. Ms. Joan Carling, Cordillera Peoples Alliance: Greets Chairperson and delegates. Wishes to inform delegates of appalling condition of education of the indigenous Cordillera peoples. 84% has only a basic literacy level, and these indigenous people are discriminated against with regard to language and culture. Major developments in the Philippines includes the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which merely consolidates the outright denial of the concept of ancestral land ownership and development. Its central instrument for its agenda is to divide and rule. Recognition of this law would be against every indigenous peoples rights. In the referendum of March 1998 the law for the creation of the cordillera autonomus region was rejected as it was not believed to be the substance of self-determination of the cordillera peoples. There has been no genuine, or sincere recognition of the indigenous people by the Phillippian government. Says that repression and coercion are implemented by the military to enforce land programs such as mining exploration, and forestry. A five day National Workshop on the Impact of Development Programs to Indigenous Peoples was held in July, and although a dialogue with government officials was held, no substantial commitment was made in response to the issues and demands presented by the indigenous peoples. The workshop participants resolved to strengthen their own organizations in order to wage a stronger opposition to the government of the Phillippines.

26. Ms. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Thanks the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for organizing last week a round table discussion on indigenous intellectual property. Says that the round-table discussion, which included experts, government delegations and indigenous peoples representatives, was constrictive. Commends WIPO for the initiations it took in that regard.

27. Mr. Richard Owens, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): Says his organization has recently embarked upon a programme of activities relating to the identification and exploitation of new approaches to the use of the intellectual property system by the world's diverse indigenous populations, local communities and other holders, custodians and creators of traditional knowledge, innovations and culture. Notes that these new activities are motivated by the fact that the time has come for sharing information and experience concerning the protection of traditional knowledge and culture and for increased awareness of the mechanisms which the existing intellectual property system may offer for the enhancement of such protection. Says a department was conceived by WIPO Director-General with the aim of exploring and investigating the needs and expectations of potential new beneficiaries of intellectual property. Hopes that WIPO's activities in respect of traditional knowledge, innovations and culture may advance appreciation and understanding of the fact that human creativity springs from many different sources of inspiration, and achieves expression in many different forms.

28. Mr. Aucan Huilcaman, Consejo de Todas Las Tierras, Chile: Congratulates the Chairperson on her re-election. Says the situation of the Mapuche in Chile is a complex one. Their physical and cultural existence has now been recognized by the Indigenous Act. There has been, however, no significant change in policies on the promotion and protection of indigenous rights. Although there are no widespread human rights violations the Mapuche are denied their fundamental freedoms. At present over 21 national and foreign corporations occupy the Mapuche territory. The Government has failed to recognize the effects these corporations have on the land and diversity and failed to adopt policies to return the land. As a result, the Mapuche have mobilized to regain the land from the timber corporations. Force has been used to prevent the continued violation of the land. Refers to the construction of two highways that affect approximately 10,000 Mapuche and the construction of a hydroelectric dam. The interests of the Mapuche were not taken into account and the people were not consulted prior to their construction. Stresses the overwhelming need to approve the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

29. Chairperson: Meet again at 15hoo, requests speakers to inscribe their names for this afternoons session. Thanks delegates.

30. Mr Alfonso Martinez: Wishes to clarify that a workshop by Mr Peter Buckskin, wishes to know where and when this event will take place.

31.Ms. Erica Irene Daes, Chairperson: Thanks Mr. Alfonso Martinez for his comments and gives the floor to the Secretary.

32. Secretary: Recalls those who did not withdraw their checks to do so from his office at E1066. Tells that the schedules for meetings were all put in the notice board. Says a meeting organized by Australia will meet at one o'clock in room 22. Also says UNESCO is giving information on the diversity of languages in room E1052 at one o'clock.

33. Ms, Erica Irene Daes, Chairperson: Recalls speakers on items 5 and 6 to register until 3.30 today. Adjourns the meeting until 3 p.m.


Tuesday, July 28, 1998
Day 2, Afternoon Session

1. Ms. Erica Daes, Chairperson: Opens the third meeting of the sixteenth session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Participants will continue consideration of item 4 of the agenda.

2. Mr. Nilo Cayuqueo, Coordination of the Mapuche Organization, Argentina: Expresses stupor at the treatment of the rights of peoples that were in existence before the creation of the State of Argentina. Points to the impunity of national or international corporations invading indigenous land such as the WPF Oil Company. Notes that activities carried out by that Company have had grave detrimental effects on the health of the Mapuche and on the environment. Large quantities of lead and mercury have poisoned the soils and ground water. Says complaints were laid before the OAS and the national legal system. The decision of the Federal Justice, however, favored the WPF Oil Company. It prohibited the Mapuche to access their land and allowed the Government to sell 110 hectares of Mapuche land to the WPF to build a gas pipeline. Regrets the Government, in the name of development, usurped and sold indigenous land disregarding their rights. Stresses that to preserve their culture and way of life it is necessary for indigenous people to have proper control of the land. Explains that the Mapuche have made an alliance with the Coya people of the Salta Province to combat activities detrimental to them. A gas pipe line and other projects are threatening the environment and way of life of the Coya people.

3. Mr. Juan Leon Alvarado, Defensoria Maya- COPMAGUUA, Guatemala: Greets delegates and Chairperson. Wishes to express gratitude to all who have supported the Maya people. Notes the agreement of 1996 that put a tentative end to discrimination. States that a fragile peace process is in place after the civil war, which has left the Guatemalan population living in a climate of fear and terror. Says the organization seeks to consolidate peace and rid the country of death threats and torture, states that malnutrition is rife amongst the indigenous people. Wishes to recommend the adoption of constitutional forms of the Maya people. Says it is essential to repeal the colonialist laws, and declare protected areas for ecological preservation. Says that the government must have policies that respect the indigenous people. Notes that the indigenous people have been left out of the development of economic and ecological laws. Regarding extra judicial deaths and other human rights violations, demands an investigation into such cases. The government must urgently draw up a pro-active analytical body to evaluate the success of the peace process. Calls on the United Nations to continue to monitor the peace process in Guatemala and not only to assess the human rights situation, but also to provide training and tools for the indigenous people so that they may gain an equal status. States that the United Nations must set up mechanisms to deal with the governments that consistently flaunt the human rights laws and the rights of indigenous peoples.

4. Mr. Lee Swepton, International Labour Office (ILO): Recalls that the Office had been engaged in protecting and promoting the rights of indigenious and tribal peoples since the 1920s. Says ILO is responsible for the only two international relating exclusively to indigenous and tribal peoples: the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107) and the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169). Noted that ILO’s regular supervisory work continues through the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. Says since the beginning of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, ILO has initiated a number of technical cooperation projects and programmes to increase awareness of the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples and to promote an improvement of their living and working standards. Says a project to promote ILO policy on indigenous and tribal peoples has been extended to southern Africa in order to establish contacts and to evaluate the possibilities for initiating operational activities in the area.

5. Mr. Bob Watts, Canada: Says the Government in January 1998 released its response to the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The response, entitled Gathering Strength, aims to help governments, Aboriginal people, the private sector and others to work together to find and implement solutions. The Gathering Strength action plan is framed around four points. 1. Renew the partnerships by bringing about fundamental change in Canada’s relationship with Aboriginal people. 2. Strengthen Aboriginal governance so that communities have the tools to implement self-governance. 3. Design a new fiscal relationship that provides a stable flow of funds in support of transparent and accountable community development. 4. Support strong Aboriginal communities, fuelled by economic development and supported by a solid infrastructure of institutions and services. The launch of Gathering Strength included the signing of the Statement of Reconciliation in which regret was expressed for the past policies and actions that have eroded the political, economic and social systems of Aboriginal nations. To the victims who suffered physical and sexual abuse in the residential school system, the government said it was deeply sorry. Accompanying this Statement was the announcement of a commitment of $350 million to develop a community-based healing strategy. Notes the Aboriginal Healing Foundation was launched in May 1998. Explains that, in less than a year, Canada will have a new third territory in the North. At that time, the Inuit of the eastern Arctic will have achieved self-government. Legislation has been introduced to give the new government the tools and authority to be effective, accountable and responsive. Says Canada is also investigating new options to finance Aboriginal governments, including modern fiscal transfer agreements. Underlines there is a growing realization in the private sector, in the provinces and territories, and at the federal level of the benefit of the economic development of Aboriginal communities. Refers to the Economic Renewal conference in Toronto, which brought together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal entrepreneurs to find ways to forge new business partnerships. Says many of the themes found in Gathering Strength were reflected by a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the case referred to as Delmagamuukw. Both focus on the need for reconciliation, the preference for negotiation over litigation and the requirement for consultation on acts that may infringe on Aboriginal titles. Points to the important federal-provincial- territorial meeting of Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Leaders of national Aboriginal organizations in Quebec City. Says the Government of Quebec set out its new objectives concerning indigenous affairs in a document entitled Partnership, Development for Action. On agenda items of previous years, draws attention to the Agreement-in Principle on self-government with the Nisga’a Tribal Council and the self-government Agreement with the Tr’ondek Hwech’in. Notes seven of the Yukon first Nations have now signed Self-government Agreements. Moreover, Canada is currently engaged in some 85 separate self-government negotiations across the Country, involving over one-half of Canada’s First National and Inuit communities. Says lands and environment issues continue to be a priority among Aboriginal concerns. In the past year Canada has been engaged in approximately 60 tables at which claims and self-government arrangements may be negotiated together. In April 1998 Canada announced a new approach to Treaty Land Entitlement, consistent with the government’s commitment to improve the specific claims process. The approach broadens the way it will calculate historic Treaty Land Entitlement shortfalls. The negotiated Treaty Land Entitlement settlements provide land and funds to enable First Nations to launch economic development initiatives and strengthen their economies and their communities. Refers to a number of developments in the area of environment. For example the Northern Contaminants Program will receive additional funding of $6 million annually for the next five years to focus on further assessing human health risks. In the area of health notes the federal government is engaged in discussions with Aboriginal organizations on the development of an Aboriginal Health Institute. This institute is to provide a bridge for traditional Aboriginal knowledge and practices and the Canadian health systems in key areas of Aboriginal health. Extends to all participants at the Working Group an invitation to join three Aboriginal experts from Canada in a Round Table discussion on education and training to be held Thursday, July 30 from 13h00 to 15h00 in room 23. Concerning the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, says Canada will continue to support regular discussions on the draft Declaration with Aboriginal representatives. Canada has supported a number of special projects to mark the Decade and is in the process of refining a plan of action for the Decade.

6. Mr. Iguayokier Ferrez, Congresa Genera Kuna: Wishes to bring greetings from their spiritual guides, elders and sages. Says that the Kuna people are taking part in many processes around the world. Wishes take the opportunity to speak about the Kuna foundations. It is the spirituality of the Kuna people that is their foundation to defend the people of the earth. Only when the world is at peace will everyone be able to live in a strong, united world. Says they are dealing with other religions and experiences around the world. Says that strength is spiritual in nature and must begin with spirituality. Without this foundation there is no peace, hence the world’s current state of confusion. Only through spiritual and cultural expression can freedom be given to every person and nation.

7. Mr. Rene Wilson, New Zealand: Says the legislative changes in his country has enabled the Maori people to participate fully in all spheres of public life including in the decision making process of the nation. States that more settlement programmes has been realized to satisfy the needs of the Maoris. Says among the programmes are both the Mario and the Government had already reached a multi-million-settlement agreement. Adds that the settlement included land and fisheries rights to the indigenous. Tells that the Government is shifting funds to the Maori to ameliorate health and education conditions and to that effect an agency is created to promote health and education among the Maori peoples. Says the1990 legislative act had recognized educational parity between Maori and non-Maori peoples. Says in 1997, the government had agreed to make the Maori language to be a living language to suit modern conditions. States that in December this year, New Zealand will host the fifth world conference of indigenous youth.

8. Mr. Alexis Tiouka, Federation des Organisations Amerindians de Guyana: Says the problem in France is that indigenous peoples are governed only by national law. Demands for indigenous peoples to be recognized according to the instruments of international law. The French indigenous people claim the right to self-determination which is a pre-requisite to the guarantee of human rights and the promotion and strengthening of those rights. The rapid decline of indigenous communities is a result of the non-recognition and denial of their fundamental rights. Affirms the right to life, respect, freedom of thought, physical security , health, justice, equality and to equality concerning the right to work, residence, education and culture. Solemnly appeals to France to adapt its law on the environment; compensate indigenous communities for the degradation of the environment; legally recognize their political authorities; ratify ILO Convention 169; establish a Code for the control of deforestation, and cease all mining activities.

9. Mr. John Adednego, Torres Strait Regional Authority: Says he is the Chairperson of the Authority. 8000 Torres Strait Islanders. Says that their identity, unity and strength is based on their culture which is the sea. States that they lobby for the right for the same standard of living as those on mainland Australia. Since last year they have improved their standard of living, autonomy. Says a report was presented to the Australian government which advocated the greater autonomy of the Islanders. Says the challenge is to progress in a way acceptable to all Islanders, thus there must be much negotiation. States that the Australian government approved the report to the benefit of the Torres Strait Islanders. These indigenous people wish to be recognized as a separate entity to the aborigines and hope to see this in late 1998. Claims their need of the environment is paramount to their culture, as they rely heavily on the sea. Wishes to thank the government of Papua New Guinea for the good faith shown in these negotiations. Notes that an agreement has been reached regarding the water supply in the Islands, which will dramatically improve the living standards of the Islanders. The cost of this project is 60 million dollars. Economic development opportunities are increasing, and the indigenous people are striving for economic autonomy. States that the Islanders are tough but fair negotiators. Wishes to achieve greater autonomy and improve their living standards to the level of those in Australia.

10. Mr. Neingulo Krome: ...States that proxy and that no Naga representation held the election in the elected body. Says the Indian authorities had continued to manipulate the population and preventing it from exercise it’s free will for self- determination.

11. Mr. Pradhir Chakma, Jumma Peoples Link: Draws attention to the signing at the end of last year of the Peace Accord after two decades of violence. Notes the accord provides hope for peace and stability in the region. Regrets it did not meet requirements of indigenous people for self-determination and covered only minimum demands. Says implementation has not yet begun and enabling legislation has not been adopted. Eight months after signing of the Peace Accord institutions, such as the Land Commission, have yet to be established, military camps have not been dismantled, rehabilitation of refugees and internally displaced persons has not taken place. Says the report of the Assessment Committee did not reflect the views of the Jumma people. Underlines the Jumma people welcome the initiatives of donor countries and the Government for the development of the region. Notes, however, that these should be in accord with the aspirations and needs of those concerned.

12. Mr. A. Singsit, Tribal Welfare Organization of India: Greets the Chairperson and the delegates. Comes from the North East of India. The indigenous people need an educational system adapted to their culture in which environment is of great importance. In the beginning all the teachers were outsiders and gave the impression that the indigenous people were inferior. Notes that there is a need for practical and vocational education as well as academic. Questions the effectiveness of the teachers who must teach 40 children each. Regarding their mother tongues, education must be given up to and including high school level in indigenous mother tongues. Indigenous languages must be used in all exams as these then become unavailable to those who do not speak the selected languages such as Hindi.

13. Mr. Arvind Netam, Akhil Bhartya Adivasi Vikas: Says the tribe he represents numbered 70 million of the total Indian population, but that tribe’s situation was disastrous because of its backwardness in education. Says the illiteracy rate both among female and male are high in this particular tribe. Emphasizes that despite the constitutional provision, which provided the right to education to all tribes, his tribe did not benefit from the educational system like other tribes. Urges the Indian authorities to inverse the situation.

14. Mr. Ram Dayal Munda, Indian Conferation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of India: Says the Working Group has grown into a forum where indigenous people can discuss problems of concern to them in a free, frank and constructive manner. To have succeeded in extending the Year of the Indigenous People into a Decade is a sure mark of its viability to become a permanent forum within the UN system. Governments have gradually opened up to dialoguing with indigenous peoples on issues such as self-determination. Over the years there has been an important development in the perception of human rights violations. In particular regarding those suffered by indigenous peoples that have resulted in a slow loss of identity leading to total disintegration. Expresses the wish that the apprehension of Governments be removed. Hopes a breakthrough could come forth before the end of the decade. Concerning the developments in India, refers to the implementation of the Act extending Tribal Self-rule. Calls upon the Government of India to expedite its implementation so that the participation of indigenous peoples in the affairs of India takes place without further delay.

15. Mr. Willie Littlechild, International Organization of Indigenous Resources Development: Congratulates the Chairperson. Wishes to make a comment regarding Canada’s statement. With regard to the apology, it is believed that it is not from the prime-minister as, in so doing, he would admit his wrongs. Wishes to inform delegates that an Indigenous Human rights commission has been established to undertake the specific activity of formal and informal education for the indigenous people at a local level. Their organization has recently finished a publication entitled “The Rights path – Alberta”, that informs the population of their social, economic, childrens, elders and health rights. Believes that this book should prove to be very helpful regarding basic knowledge about human rights.

16. Mr. Cham Tolk, Mon Unity League: Says the Myanmar military regime has continued to deny the rights of the indigenous peoples and has engaged them in a civil conflicts. Says more than 700 people had been killed by the regime during the continued row related to the relocation of indigenous peoples. Says many members of indigenous peoples had to flee to the neighbouring countries to escape persecution by the military regime. Says after the cease fire agreement with the Mon armed forces and the military junta of Burma, which had reached in 1995, the military junta has expanded its control over the Mon areas and depleted the natural resources of the people. Urges the international community to join in solidarity with the popularly elected Burmese Democratic Party and condemn the repressive methods of the military regime in place.

17. Mr. Jiten Chakma, Chittagong Hill Tracts Hill Students Council: Welcomes the signing of the 1997 Peace Accord which called for the respect of the Jumma people’s rights. Since the signing of the agreement there has been some improvements, such as the repatriation of refugees from neighboring countries. The Jumma people, however, continue to face problems. The presence of armed forces has remained the same and has continued to create tensions. A number of Jumma have disappeared and raids continue on Jumma settlements. Regrets the authorities take no action in response to such events. Although the Peace agreement was signed, its non-implementation means turmoil continues and peace is still not fully restored. Appeals to the Working Group and international community to make consolidated efforts to establish a durable peace.

18. K. R. Khambu Rai, Kirat Rai Language and Literacy Council, Nepal: Greets all delegates and the Chairperson. Nepal’s educational system is seen as a universal right, with three official languages. However indigenous students must master four languages and this explains the high drop out rate by indigenous children. 70 indigenous communities are being denied education in their mother tongue. Primary education in mother tongue is important and although it is a constitutional right, the state has still not made any concrete developments. Says that many dialects are under threat of distinction but these are being preserved by the non-governmental organization the Kirat Rai Yayokkha. Calls for the support of the linguistic heritage of Nepal. Says that the United Nations must ensure that the indigenous rights of these remote indigenous peoples are protected, and that the United Nations sets up mechanisms to deal with the ensuing problems.

19. Mr. Kesang Kinlay Namgyel, Druk Indigenous Peoples Rights Organization, Bhutan: Says the Government of Bhutan has denied the human rights of its citizens while political persecution has continued with persons expressing different political opinions being languishing in prisons. Recalls that many political opponents have been chased out of the country only to find refuge abroad. Says the right to education was also violated with the authorities unable to provide appropriate education to the population. Notes that the rights of women in the country are depressing. Says the Government is not taking appropriate measure to improve the living conditions of the p