May 17, 2007

UNPO Address to the UNPFII

In a joint statement to the Sixth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), held from 14 to 25 May 2007 in New York, UNPO, its Members, and its partners, focuses on the environment and suggests 'Climate Change' as the thematic context of the Seventh Session.

In a joint statement to the Sixth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), held from 14 to 25 May 2007 at the UN headquarters in New York, UNPO, its Members, and its partners, focuses on the environment and suggests 'Climate Change' as the thematic context of the Seventh Session.

The ongoing session of the Forum in New York is tackling a range of issues relating to indigenous peoples (IPs) worldwide and is seen as one of the main global platforms for IPs, with approximately 2,000 delegates attending. Several UNPO Members are also attending the Sixth Session of the PFII, including; Aboriginals in Australia, Ahwazi, Batwa, Buffalo River Dene Nation, Chin, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Cordillera, Crimean Tatars, Kalahui Hawaii, Hmong, Inner Mongolia, Khmer Krom, Maasai, Ogoni, and West Papua.

The joint statement was signed by UNPO, Aboriginals in Australia (FAIRA), Maasai (MPIDO), Ahwazi Human Rights Organization (AHRO), Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF), the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and Geneva Call, and relates to agenda Item 4b of the Session: "Implementation of recommendations on the six mandated areas and on Millennium Development Goals – The Environment"

Sixth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 17 May 2007
The United Nations, New York

Issued jointly by: UNPO, FAIRA, MPIDO, AHRO, KKF, Chin Human Rights Organisation, MOSOP and Geneva Call

Madam Chair,

On behalf of UNPO, - the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization – counting almost 70 nations and indigenous peoples and more than 200 million individuals worldwide, I would like to express the acknowledgment of our Members of the choice this year’s special theme “Territories, lands and natural resources” – issues which represent key obstacles faced by UNPO Members worldwide today. 

There are all too many cases of Indigenous Populations losing control over resources vital to their communities. UNPO calls upon the UN specialised agencies to ensure in the process of implementation:

- that unrepresented nations and peoples everywhere are promoted to full and equal partners in discussions relevant to their environment and included in the decision making processes which seek to balance the economic benefits of resource exploitation against its environmental costs

Madam Chair, on the specific issue of the environment UNPO welcomes the request for a report on climate change mitigation efforts for indigenous peoples as mentioned in Your opening this morning. UNPO would like to further highlight the following key areas of concerns in terms of implementation:

(Landmines Recognise No Cease-fire)
Not only are more than 70 people killed or injured by anti-personnel mines daily, but landmines also threaten entire communities as they become a tremendous environmental problem severely affecting for instance indigenous peoples in Burma. With large tracts of agricultural land being mined, essential activities such as farming, gathering firewood and fetching water becomes a life-threatening exercise.

UNPO urges that landmines be fully recognised as an environmental problem and that the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognise in particular the vulnerable situation of indigenous peoples.

(When Livelihoods are Cut Away & The Curse of Black Gold)
Deforestation is taking place on an alarming scale, with annual losses in areas inhabited by UNPO Members, such as Tibet, the Batwa of Rwanda, Maasai, and West Papua, Bougainville and Aceh in Southeast Asia, bearing the brunt of the environmental cost. Moreover, some of the most severe environmental problems in the world are caused by exploration, retrieval and transport of oil. All too frequently the voices of indigenous communities in oil-rich lands, such as the Ahwazi-Arabs in Iran, the Ogoni in Nigeria and the Khmer Krom in Vietnam, are ignored and overlooked by competing interests.

UNPO asks that the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) issue regular communications to major logging, oil and mineral resource extraction companies to urge the developing of corporate responsibility programmes which are sensitised to indigenous peoples and their livelihoods

Moreover, UNPO plans to coordinate a series of meetings that look at good practices that have ensured the human rights of indigenous peoples, and calls on a study to be drafted by the UNPFII members exploring options to protect human rights of uncontacted people, to be developed through meetings coordinated by indigenous peoples before the next UNPFII session.

Finally, UNPO asks that indigenous peoples dealing with Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) focusing on fossil fuels engage in negotiations based on the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.

UNPO maintains that indigenous peoples’ voice be heard in the discourse on climate change, as they are the first to face the impacts of climate change. UNPO urges that UNPFII endorse climate change as a theme for next year’s session and the reports from indigenous peoples meetings be part of the official documents in the meeting.

Madam Chair, UNPO believes that the above recommendations will further aid progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Lastly, UNPO would like to reiterate its full support for the call for the immediate adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly.   

Thank you.