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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

PRESS RELEASE
March 19, 2015
Contact: Tupac Enrique Acosta (602) 466-8367


Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Arizona State Capitol - Senate Building
Friday March 27, 2015
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Phoenix, AZ - Over two hundred years ago, they spoke before the founders of the American Union of the original thirteen colonies and on March 27 at the Arizona State Capitol, the leadership of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, People of the Longhouse, also known as the Confederacy of the Iroquois, will once again share the message of the oldest democracy on the continent at the capitol of the State of Arizona.

Participating in a Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the legation of the Haudenosaunee will open a day of discourse on the interdependent and relevant issues of Indigenous Nationhood, political identity, citizenship and nationality, territorial responsibilities and rights as viewed from the perspective of the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples themselves and as affirmed in the UN Declaration on theRights of Indigenous Peoples.  The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007.

Also participating in the Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be a delegation of the Havasupai Tribe from the Grand Canyon, who are challenging uranium-mining projects in their territory.  The issue of the illegal expropriation of the Rio Yaqui in Sonora, Mexico with headwaters in southern Arizona will be an issue of discussion, as well as the local concerns of the O'otham Nations relevant to the proposed Freeway 202 expansion.

The battle of the Apache Tribe to preserve the Sacred Oak Flat is also on the agenda for discussion.

Co-sponsors of this event are the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, the American Indian Law Alliance, and TONATIERRA.


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NAHUACALLI
Embassy of Indigenous Peoples

Monday, March 9, 2015

AILA: Declaración a la Reunión del Grupo de Expertos


Declaración a la Reunión del Grupo de Expertos del

Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas:

Diálogo sobre un protocolo facultativo a la

Declaración sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas
28-29 enero 2015, sede de la ONU
Presentado por la American Indian Law Alliance (AILA)
www.ailanyc.org

Declaración oral entregado 29 de enero 2015
Contexto actual e histórico 

1. Recordamos que las Naciones y Pueblos Indígenas llegaron a las Naciones Unidas en 1977, en parte para establecer que nuestros tratados de nación a nación sean sostenidos por organismos de la ONU. Tomamos nota de que algunos de esos líderes valientes siguen con nosotros hoy y siguen plenamente comprometidos en la lucha para que nuestros tratados sean respetados. En ese momento, las Naciones y Pueblos Indígenas sintieron que este foro internacional sería un lugar a garantizar el cumplimiento de los tratados entre nuestras Naciones Indígenas y otros gobiernos como el de Estados Unidos y Canadá.

2. Recordamos además la declaración de la Ms. Navi Pillay, Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, al hablar en el momento de su posición oficial, de la importancia central de los tratados el 7 de agosto de 2013: "Incluso cuando fueron firmados o acordados más que hace un siglo, muchos tratados siguen siendo la piedra angular para la protección de la identidad, la tierra y las costumbres de los pueblos indígenas, y en determinación de la relación que tienen con el Estado ". La declaración marcó el Día Internacional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Mundo el 9 de agosto de 2013.

3. Con este contexto actual e histórico, tomamos nota del "Estudio sobre un protocolo facultativo de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas que se centrado en un posible mecanismo voluntario" (E / C.19 / 2014/7), que fue preparado por los miembros del Foro Permanente Profesora Dalee S. Dorough y Profesora Megan Davis para la decimotercera sesión del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas (UNPFII) con el tema especial: "Principios de Buen Gobierno en consonancia con la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, artículos 3 a 6 y 46 ", celebrada 12 -23 de mayo, 2014 en la Sede de las Naciones Unidas.

4. La intervención Haudenosaunee sobre"Principios de Buen Gobierno," entregado por el Jefe Oren Lyons (Nación Onondaga), bajo el punto 3 del orden del día en la XIII Sesión del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas (UNPFII) entregó el 14 de mayo de 2014 en el párrafo 21, expresó la preocupación de que el protocolo facultativo propuesto "puede permitir que los procedimientos para que los estados se mueven las controversias relativas a las tierras, territorios y recursos de los procesos internacionales a los foros judiciales y políticas nacionales."


5. Tomamos nota de que la próxima Decimocuarta Sesión del Foro Permanente sobre Cuestiones Indígenas que se celebrará abril 20- 01 de mayo 2015 en la Sede de la ONU enumera como su propuesta Tema 5: Discusión de medio día sobre la reunión del grupo de expertos sobre el tema "Diálogo sobre un protocolo facultativo de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas ". Promovemos a que se trata de un diálogo abierto sobre las diferentes propuestas y desventajas de un protocolo facultativo, teniendo en cuenta estas propuestas desde todos los ángulos, y que incluye la "participación plena, equitativa y efectiva" de los pueblos indígenas.

6. Un tema aparte pero relacionado en consideración en esta Reunión del Grupo de Expertos es la propuesta de revisar el mandato del Mecanismo de Expertos, que surgió de las negociaciones del Documento Final HLPM / WCIP. El párrafo 28 del documento final de la HLPM / WCIP afirma: "Invitamos al Consejo de Derechos Humanos, teniendo en cuenta las opiniones de los pueblos indígenas, para revisar los mandatos de sus mecanismos existentes, en particular el Mecanismo de Expertos sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas , durante el sexagésimo período de sesiones de la Asamblea General, con vistas de modificar y mejorar el Mecanismo de Expertos para que pueda promover más eficazmente el respeto y la aplicación de la Declaración, en particular por mejor ayudando los Estados miembros a monitorear, evaluar y mejorar la consecución de los fines de la Declaración ".

7. Observamos el proceso HLPM / WCIP surgió entre los períodos de sesiones anuales del Foro Permanente. Como resultado de ello, la propuesta de revisión de MEDPI no ha tenido el beneficio de la participación plena, equitativa y efectiva de los Pueblos Indígenas. Nos preocupa que un mecanismo Indígena esencial dentro del sistema de la ONU está siendo revisado sin la plena participación de los pueblos indígenas. Nos preocupa que la falta de participación plena, equitativa y efectiva es la nueva norma en el sistema de la ONU. 

Participación plena, equitativa y efectiva 

8. Esta falta de participación plena, equitativa y efectiva de los Pueblos Indígenas contradice la Resolución Modalidades de los HLPM / WCIP y DNUDPI los artículos 3, 18, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38 42 43 y 46. La plena, equitativa y la participación efectiva de los pueblos indígenas es un requisito establecido claramente. 

Áreas de Preocupación 

9. Reconocemos y apreciamos todos los trabajos presentados a esta reunión de expertos por cada experto y hemos revisado cuidadosamente cada documento. Compartimos la opinión de como se presenta en el "Estudio sobre un protocolo facultativo" inicial y en algunos de los documentos de expertos posteriores presentadas para esta reunión de expertos, que existe una brecha en la implementación de la UNDRIP. También compartimos la opinión de que hay una falta de conocimiento y comprensión de la DNUDPI adecuada. Parte del trabajo de AILA desde la adopción de la UNDRIP en el año 2007 ha sido educar continuamente sobre su contenido y abogar por su aplicación a nivel local, continental y mundial.

10. Seguimos estando preocupados por el deseo de que los Estados Miembros de la ONU para 'domesticar' nuestros derechos, en lugar de mantener las relaciones con las Naciones y Pueblos Indígenas en el ámbito internacional, sobre la base de nación a nación, que era el propósito original de Naciones y Pueblos Indígenas en venir a la ONU. Debe quedar constancia que el derecho internacional supersede a la ley nacional. Estamos preocupados de que las disputas acerca de nuestros derechos a nuestras tierras, territorios y recursos sean movidos a consideración bajo de un protocolo facultativo, que se basaría en los gobiernos a harán lo correcto y ratifican este protocolo facultativo.

11. Nos encontramos algunas propuestas presentadas en el documento experto presentado por el profesor Mattias Åhrén a la Reunión del Grupo de Expertos, relativa a un posible papel nuevo para MEDPI, son particularmente preocupantes.

12. La sugerencia de que sólo los pueblos indígenas reconocidos por los Estados tendrían derecho a presentar quejas a un nuevo cuerpo de protocolo facultativo, es una violación directa de la DNUDPI, nuestro derecho a la participación plena, efectiva y equitativa, y viola el derecho a la libre determinación . Esto no es negociable. Hemos estado luchando contra la percepción de que los estados deciden quién es o no indígena desde hace cientos de años.

13. Una limitación de tiempo de seis meses para plantear cuestiones de derechos humanos en los foros internacionales después de agotar las opciones nacionales es perjudicial y una carga excesiva para nuestros pueblos. No tenemos claro quién determina qué derechos podrían considerarse principalmente importante.

14. Como todos sabemos, la DNUDPI fue el resultado de un proceso de negociación más de veinte año y establece las normas mínimas para la "supervivencia, la dignidad y el bienestar" de los pueblos indígenas de todo el mundo. El artículo 43 de la DDPI afirma: ". Los derechos reconocidos en la presente Declaración constituyen las normas mínimas para la supervivencia, la dignidad y el bienestar de los pueblos indígenas del mundo" Se ha establecido que la DNUDPI, junto con la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, los instrumentos de derechos humanos y otras leyes internacionales de derechos humanos aplicables deben ser la base para la discusión de la libre determinación de los Pueblos Indígenas. DNUDPI tiene un papel importante el establecimiento de normas en el derecho internacional, y los Estados miembros no puede escoger y elegir cuándo y que los artículos cumplen de DNUDPI. Además, para las Naciones y Pueblos Indígenas, nuestros tratados, acuerdos y otros arreglos constructivos son la base para la protección de nuestras tierras, territorios y recursos.

15. Esta nueva función propuesta para MEDPI podría dar lugar a una reclamación de una "duplicación del trabajo dentro del sistema de la ONU." Nos alegramos de ver que el "Estudio sobre un protocolo facultativo" original subrayó que "un mecanismo voluntario no puede servir de camino para los Estados para evitar ser controlado por los órganos y mecanismos  internacionales o regionales de derechos humanos existentes" (párrafo 40).

16. La labor del Foro Permanente es de importancia primordial dentro del sistema de la ONU. La American Indian Law Alliance, y las Naciones y las comunidades a las que servimos, siempre han apoyado y seguirá apoyando la labor del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas. Nuestro Fundador y Presidente, Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq. (Nación Onondaga), se desempeñó como Representante Regional de América del Norte para el Foro Permanente para un mandato de tres años 2008 a 2011, expuesta por los pueblos indígenas. Como resultado de ese papel, ella tiene experiencia directa y participó de primera mano en la obra indispensable del Foro.

17. Los pueblos indígenas tienen su propia voz y se deberán reconocer como nuestros propios expertos en cualquier foro acerca de nosotros. 

Recomendaciones: 

1. No podemos permitir que los procedimientos con respecto las controversias a nuestros derechos a nuestras tierras, territorios y recursos sean movidos por los estados de los procesos internacionales a los foros judiciales y políticas nacionales.
2. De conformidad con el derecho internacional establecido, la DNUDPI, la Carta de la ONU, y el resto de la legislación internacional aplicable debe ser el marco para la realización de la libre determinación de los pueblos indígenas, incluido el artículo 37 de la DNUDPI:
1. Los pueblos indígenas tienen derecho al reconocimiento, observancia y aplicación de los tratados, acuerdos y otros arreglos constructivos concertados con los Estados o sus sucesores y que los Estados acaten y respeten esos tratados, acuerdos y otros arreglos constructivos.
2. Nada en esta Declaración podrá interpretarse que menoscaba o suprime los derechos de los pueblos indígenas que figuren en tratados, acuerdos y otros arreglos constructivos.
3. Todas las deliberaciones relativas a un protocolo facultativo propuesto para la DNUDPI, incluyendo cualquier revisión propuesta del mandato del Mecanismo de Expertos debe incluir el pleno efectiva la igualdad de participación, de todos los pueblos indígenas de conformidad con la DNUDPI.
4. La Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, que es un instrumento integral, internacional de los derechos humanos que reconoce los derechos colectivos de los pueblos indígenas, incluyendo el derecho de la autodeterminación individual y, debe ser implementado continuamente en todos los niveles. Se necesita más educación sobre el contenido de la DNUDPI de Naciones y Pueblos Indígenas, los estados miembros de la ONU, agencias de Naciones Unidas, la sociedad civil, los gobiernos a todos los niveles y la sociedad en general. Recursos financieros adecuados deben estar disponibles para promover estos objetivos.

Dalee Sambo Dorough, UNPFII 2014 End of Year Message



End-of-Year Message by Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

I am writing this holiday message after a very full and dynamic year. Though each Expert Member of the Forum has done extraordinary work within their own home communities and at the national or domestic level, much has also happened over the past 12 months at the international level.

The most significant event of 2014 was the High Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. After four years of planning, the September 2014 gathering at United Nations headquarters in New York attracted thousands of Indigenous peoples' representatives and supporters, who took part in two days of deliberations alongside leaders and delegates from UN Member States.

Following an inspirational opening ceremony, the Outcome Document, Resolution A/Res/69/2, was passed by acclamation. This UN General Assembly resolution reflects a wide array of solemn commitments by all UN member states.  The significant  reaffirmation of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as well as their reaffirmation of support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as formal commitments, are crucial to the future of Indigenous peoples, nations and communities.

Through these few words, it is safe to say, that the general international law and customary international law principles and norms are essential and constant parameters for all future dialogue, negotiation and operationalization of the individual and collective human rights of Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the content of the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent, and the continuing importance of Indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, territories and resources, which were all referenced in the Outcome Document, remain urgent and necessary features for the survival and sustainability of Indigenous peoples, nations and communities.

Among the most important priorities for Indigenous peoples in the Outcome Document are the explicit member state commitments to take action at the national level to “acknowledge, advance and adjudicate the rights of Indigenous peoples pertaining to lands, territories and resources”1 as well as to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples in relation to projects affecting Indigenous “lands or territories and other resources.”2 Furthermore, the Outcome Document makes specific reference to UN member state commitments “to prevent abuses of the rights of Indigenous peoples”3 in relation to the impact of development, extractive industries and “transnational corporations and other business enterprises”.4

In addition, the UN member state commitments “to achieve the ends of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” through specific action, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, “to develop and implement national action plans, strategies or other measures” are highly significant. Indigenous peoples are acutely aware of the “implementation gap” and these UN member state commitments to undertake concrete action at the national and domestic level are crucial to closing this gap. And, the post-2015 development agenda, Indigenous elders, women’s rights, health, the rights of persons with disabilities, and inclusion of youth and children are all clearly important areas of concern for Indigenous peoples and were fortunately addressed by the Outcome Document.

Though this achievement should be celebrated by all, I have observed an inconsistency between member state policy at the international level and their actions and policy at the national or domestic level. Fortunately, the Permanent Forum and Indigenous peoples generally enjoy support from UN member states at the international level. However, too often, little support or prioritization to implement Indigenous human rights norms at the national and domestic level is shown. And, in some extreme cases, we have member state support in key areas internationally, while at home, in these same states, Indigenous peoples are being forcibly removed from their lands and their very survival and security threatened both individually and collectively.

As Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, I have felt the enormous challenges facing Indigenous peoples. There is no time or room for complacency. Collectively, we must work even harder to make a difference on the ground for Indigenous peoples. These priorities and the corresponding UN member state commitments affirmed by the Outcome Document are now more urgent than ever and the solemnity with which these commitments were made must prompt immediate action at the domestic and national level. We need to see the real “outcomes” of the Outcome Document – we need to see the action- oriented work that UN member states iterated and reiterated in the drafting process of this General Assembly resolution.

I make this call to action because every Indigenous person that I have met in every community and every meeting that I’ve been engaged in over the past year, I have only heard of the enormous and horrific problems that they face, ranging from assassinations and killings to displacement and eviction from their lands, territories and resources to criminalization for attempts to defend their basic human rights to lack of access to education, health and other social services to extreme poverty and food insecurity to soaring suicide rates and continuing discrimination and marginalization to the loss of Indigenous languages.

Not once have I met an Indigenous person that stated that everything is going well for them and their community. And, though Indigenous peoples are receiving more  attention than ever in the media, through human rights groups and through Indigenous peoples’ own networks, at the same time, injustices are perpetrated against Indigenous peoples on a daily basis.

The Outcome Document and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are the framework for the genuine implementation of our rights at the national and domestic level and more important, in the actual homelands of Indigenous peoples. The work  before us and in particular for UN member states, must be done at home, in member state capitols and within Indigenous homelands – not in the halls of the UN in New York, Geneva, Nairobi or elsewhere. I want UN member states to breathe life into the strong and solemn commitments that they made in the Outcome Document. I do not want member states to feel that the World Conference was the end of an international process -- it is only the beginning of sorely needed domestic processes and dialogue. And, such processes and dialogue with Indigenous peoples domestically are URGENT.

In addition to this message and call to action, I want to share a few words about the Thirteenth Session of the Forum in May 2014 and my engagements as the Chairperson of the Permanent Forum in recent months.


The Thirteen Session, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 12-23, 2014

The two-week session was attended by over 1200 participants, with a large number of representatives of Member States, including high-level officials, UN agencies, funds and programmes, Indigenous peoples’ delegates and NGOs. There were also a significant number of indigenous women and youth, and Indigenous persons with disabilities.

The theme of “principles of good governance consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People” gave voice to Indigenous legal traditions that emulate and represent good governance. There were also examples of member state and Indigenous cooperation to develop governance structures that improve conditions within indigenous communities and where indigenous peoples’ direct involvement in every stage of project design were highlighted. Such instances helped to emphasize the importance of Indigenous participation in decision-making and the design of meaningful and effective governance approaches.

My interest in the use of this theme was to highlight the relevant of transparency; responsiveness; consensus oriented; equity and inclusiveness; effectiveness and efficiency; accountability; participation; consultation and consent; human rights; and the rule of law in order to influence both the high level plenary meeting and the ongoing dialogue concerning the Sustainable Development Goals. For Indigenous peoples, far too often, the principles of good governance, which are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, are rarely practiced by  UN member states. Again, my desire was to emphasize these important dynamics necessary for advancing Indigenous peoples’ human rights at the national and domestic level, where good governance should be practiced as a norm and not merely an ideal.

Under the agenda item of Human Rights, the Permanent Forum congratulated Professor James Anaya on the successful conclusion of his service as Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. We also welcomed the appointment of Ms. Victoria Tauli- Corpuz as the new Special Rapporteur and we look forward to working closely with her. We had the honor of the presence and words of Mr. Wilton Littlechild on behalf of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Francisco Cali, President of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Ms. Soyata Maiga, on behalf of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Mr. Emilio Alvarez, Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and Mr. Kenneth Deer on behalf of the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. It was important for the Permanent  Forum to publicly congratulate Mr. Cali and acknowledge his appointment as the  first Indigenous expert to be appointed as President of a United Nations treaty body.

Our half-day discussion on Asia yielded a range of recommendations to Asian States as well as to the United Nations system and Indigenous peoples’ organizations from the region. The Forum has expressed concern that most of those recommendations are yet to be implemented. At the same time, some positive developments concerning Asian Indigenous peoples must be noted. In particular, the legal recognition of the Ainu as the indigenous people of Japan; the decision of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia in recognizing the customary rights of Indigenous peoples with regard to forests; and the increased engagement and partnerships of national human rights institutions and agencies of the United Nations system with indigenous organizations and institutions were all notable outcomes of this half day focus.

However, the Permanent Forum and its members remain concerned about the increasing adverse impacts of climate change, the large hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, biofuel plantations, windmills and geothermal plants, which are all adversely impacting Asian Indigenous peoples’ territories and being pursued without the free, prior and informed consent or the full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples.

For 2015, among many other objectives, we are preparing for our Fourteenth Session [April 20 - May 1]; a forthcoming Expert Group Meeting on a voluntary optional protocol to the UN Declaration [January 27-29]; an inter-sessional meeting in Salekhard, Russia to focus upon reform of our methods of work to strengthen the role of the Permanent Forum within the UN system [February 25-28]; and ensuring that the human rights and concerns of Indigenous peoples are explicitly reflected in the 2015 sustainable development goals.

In conclusion, I want to stress the importance of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to this future work. As an international human rights instrument, the UN Declaration forms the framework for all of the Permanent Forum’s work – it firmly guides our activities and our objectives within the UN system and beyond. As noted, we cannot afford to divert from our continued effort to address the implementation gap in regard to all of the inter-related, inter-dependent, indivisible and inter-connected provisions of this pivotal human rights instrument. Through the UN Declaration and our collective work, we must ensure that there is a real difference being made on the ground for Indigenous peoples.

In this spirit, I would like call upon UN member states and UN agencies to collaborate with Indigenous peoples and to re-affirm their commitments towards genuinely attaining the exercise and enjoyment of human rights by Indigenous peoples in the coming year and beyond. As individuals, when you see violations, tragedy or  violence  being committed toward Indigenous peoples, don’t remain complacent, don’t remain silent, take action.  And, as member state representatives, please recall your solemn commitments to promote and encourage respect for the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

I wish each of you the best for 2015.  Thank you for your support over the past   year.
May our ancestors guide us well into the coming New Year.

December 2014



________________________________________________
1 Paragraph 21, Outcome Document, Resolution A/Res/69/2 
2 Paragraph 20, Outcome Document, Resolution A/Res/69/2 
3 Paragraph 24, Outcome Document, Resolution A/Res/69/2 
4 Paragraph 23, Outcome Document, Resolution A/Res/69/2

Thursday, February 19, 2015

AILA Statement to UNPFII Expert Group Meeting: Dialogue on an optional protocol



Statement to the UNPFII Expert Group Meeting:

Dialogue on an optional protocol to the United Nations

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

28-29 January 2015, UN Headquarters
Presented by the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA)

Oral statement delivered 29 January 2015





Current and Historical Context
 
1.         We recall that Indigenous Nations and Peoples came to the United Nations in 1977, in part to have our nation-to-nation treaties upheld by UN bodies. We note that some of those courageous leaders are still with us today and still fully engaged in the fight to have our treaties upheld. At the time, Indigenous Nations and Peoples felt that this international forum would be one place to ensure enforcement of treaties between our Indigenous Nations and other governments such as the United States and Canada.

2.         We further recall the statement of Ms. Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking at the time in her official position, on the central importance of treaties on August 7, 2013: "Even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs of indigenous peoples, determining the relationship they have with the State." The statement marked the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on August 9, 2013.1 

3.         With that current and historical context, we take note of the “Study on an optional protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples focusing on a voluntary mechanism” (E/C.19/2014/7)2  which was prepared by Permanent Forum members Professor Dalee S. Dorough and Professor Megan Davis for the Thirteenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) with the Special Theme: “Principles of Good Governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, articles 3 to 6 and 46,” held May 12-23, 2014 at UN Headquarters.

4.         The Haudenosaunee intervention on ‘Principles of Good Governance,’ delivered by Chief Oren Lyons (Onondaga Nation), under Agenda Item 3 at the Thirteenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) delivered on May 14, 2014 in paragraph 21, expressed the concern that a proposed optional protocol “may allow procedures for states to move disputes regarding lands, territories and resources from international processes to domestic judicial and political forums."3 

5.         We take note that the upcoming Fourteenth Session of the UNPFII to take place April 20- May 1, 2015 at UN Headquarters lists as its proposed Agenda Item 5: Half-day discussion on the expert group meeting on the theme “Dialogue on an optional protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People”. We encourage this to be an open dialogue on the various proposals and drawbacks for an optional protocol, considering these proposals from all angles, and including the “full, equal, and effective participation” of Indigenous Peoples. 

Full, Equal, and Effective Participation 

6.         A separate but related issue under consideration at this Expert Group Meeting is the proposal to revise EMRIP’s mandate, which emerged from the negotiations of the HLPM/WCIP Outcome Document. Paragraph 28 of the Outcome Document of the HLPM/WCIP states: “We invite the Human Rights Council, taking into account the views of indigenous peoples, to review the mandates of its existing mechanisms, in particular the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, during the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly, with a view to modifying and improving the Expert Mechanism so that it can more effectively promote respect and the enforcement of the Declaration, including by better assisting Member States to monitor, evaluate and improve the achievement of the ends of the Declaration.”

7.         We note the HLPM/WCIP process arose between the annual sessions of the UNPFII. As a result, the proposed revision of EMRIP has not had the benefit of the full, equal, and effective participation by Indigenous Peoples. We are concerned that an essential Indigenous mechanism within the UN system is being revised without the full participation of Indigenous Peoples. We are concerned that a lack of full, equal, and effective participation is the new norm within the UN system.

8.         This lack of full, equal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples contradicts the Modalities Resolution of the HLPM/WCIP and UNDRIP Articles 3, 18, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38 42 43 and 46. The full, equal, and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples is a clearly established requirement. 

Areas of Concern 

9.         We acknowledge and appreciate all the papers submitted to this Expert Group Meeting by each expert and we have carefully reviewed each paper. We share the view as was laid out in the initial “Study on an optional protocol” and in some of the subsequent expert papers submitted for this Expert Group Meeting, that an implementation gap exists for the UNDRIP. We also share the view that there is a lack of adequate knowledge and understanding of the UNDRIP. Part of AILA’s work since the adoption of the UNDRIP in 2007 has been to continually educate on its content and advocate for its implementation on local, continental and global levels.

10.       We continue to be concerned about the desire for UN Member States to ‘domesticate’ our rights, rather than maintain relations with Indigenous Nations and Peoples in the international arena, on a nation-to-nation basis, which was the original purpose of Indigenous Nations and Peoples in coming to the UN. It should be duly noted that international law supersedes domestic law. We are concerned about moving disputes regarding our rights to our lands, territories and resources to an optional protocol, which would rely on governments to do the right thing and ratify this optional protocol.

11.       We find a few proposals, presented in the expert paper submitted by Professor Mattias Åhrén to the Expert Group Meeting, relating to a possible new role for EMRIP to be particularly troubling.

12.       The suggestion that only Indigenous Peoples recognized by states would be eligible to submit complaints to a new optional protocol body, is in direct violation of the UNDRIP, our right to full, effective and equal participation, and violates the right to self-determination. This is non-negotiable. We have been fighting against the perception that states decide who is or is not Indigenous for hundreds of years.

13.       A six month time limitation to raise human rights issues in international fora after exhausting domestic options is damaging and overly burdensome for our Peoples. We are unclear who determines what rights could be deemed principally important.

14.       As we all know, UNDRIP was the result of an over twenty year negotiation process and sets the minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous Peoples around the world. Article 43 of the UNDRIP states: “The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples of the world.” It has been established that the UNDRIP, along with the UN Charter, the human rights covenants and other applicable international human rights laws must be the basis for discussing the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. UNDRIP has a strong norm setting role in international law, and member states cannot pick and choose when and which Articles they comply with of UNDRIP. Additionally, for Indigenous Nations and Peoples, our treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements are the basis for the protection of our lands, territories and resources.

15.       This proposed new role for EMRIP could lead to a claim of a ‘duplication of work within the UN system.’ We were happy to see that the original “Study on an optional protocol” stressed that “a voluntary mechanism cannot serve as a way for States to avoid being monitored by existing international or regional human rights bodies and mechanisms” (paragraph 40).

16.       The work of the UNPFII is of paramount importance within the UN system. The American Indian Law Alliance, and the Nations and communities we serve, have always supported and continue to support the work of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Our Founder and President, Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq. (Onondaga Nation), served as the North American Regional Representative to the UNPFII for a three year term from 2008-2011, brought forward by Indigenous Peoples. As a result of that role, she has direct experience and participated first-hand in the indispensable work of the Forum.

17.       Indigenous Peoples have a voice and we must be recognized as our own experts in any forum concerning us. 

Recommendations: 

1.         We cannot allow procedures that will allow for states to move disputes regarding our rights to our lands, territories and resources from international processes to domestic judicial and political forums.

2.         In line with established international law, the UNDRIP, the UN Charter, and all other applicable international law must be the framework for the realization of the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples, including Article 37 of the UNDRIP:


1.         Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

2.         Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

3.         All deliberations concerning a proposed optional protocol for the UNDRIP, including any proposed overhaul of the mandate of EMRIP must include the full, effective, equal participation of all Indigenous Peoples in line with the UNDRIP.

4.         The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is an integral, international human rights instrument that recognizes the individual and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right of self-determination, must be continually implemented on all levels. Further education on the content of UNDRIP is needed for Indigenous Nations and Peoples, UN member states, UN agencies, civil society, governments at all levels and society at large. Adequate financial resources must be made available to further these goals.

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[1] Statement from Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: <http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13610&LangID=E>.
[2] The “Study on an optional protocol” was the result of a decision from the eleventh session of the UNPFII,  (E/2012/43, Paragraph 109).
[3] Full text of this intervention is accessible through the American Indian Law Alliance website: http://www.ailanyc.org/documents/.

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The Conference Report from the
“International Seminar on the Doctrine of Discovery” 
September 20-21, 2012 at Thompson Rivers University (TRU)
Kamloops BC

YouTube:

Tonya Gonnella Frichner Presentation

International Seminar on the Doctrine of Discovery