Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Forth session
11 -13 July 2010, Geneva
Agenda Items 4) Study on Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Participate in Decision-making; 5) UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and 6) Proposals to be submitted to the Human Rights Council for its Consideration and Approval
Intervention by the North America Indigenous Peoples Caucus
Speaker: Andrea Carmen, International Indian Treaty Council
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
The members of the North America Regional Caucus at the 4th session of the Expert Mechanism for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reiterate our strong interest as well as our concerns regarding the proposed World Conference on Indigenous Peoples approved by the 65th session of the UN General Assembly 3rd Committee in November 2010 in resolution AC.3/65/L.22/Rev.1. We emphasize the profound importance and potential impacts of this Conference based on its stated primary purpose “to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of Indigenous peoples, including to pursue the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.
The planning process for the World Conference, as well as its implementation and outcomes, provide important opportunities to implement and put into practice the UN Declaration including articles 5, 18 and others affirming the right to participation in decision -making. The process which produced the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was one in which Indigenous Peoples were equal participants in the development and adoption of the text. This is the model which should also be applied to all stages of the planning and implementation of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. This includes all planning and preparatory sessions, development of the agenda, the implementation of the Conference itself and the development and adoption of its outcome document.
The UN Declaration’s affirmation of Free Prior and Informed Consent, Self Determination and right to participate in decision-making provide a framework for participation that is also affirmed in the final EMRIP study on the right to participation in decision making. Assigning a lesser or subsidiary role for Indigenous Peoples as compared to States in any phase of this World Conference would constitute a violation of the very rights which it purports to affirm. Real participation is not the same thing as mere presence in the room.
While we fully support the importance of the recognized roles of the expert members of the UNPFII, EMRIP and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in this regard, we also affirm that participation applies to Indigenous Peoples, Nations and organizations.
In light of its current thematic study on the rights of Indigenous Peoples we ask the EMRIP members to take note in particular of paragraph 122 of the report of the recently concluded UNPFII 10th session [E/2011/43-E/C.19/2011/14] which reflects the concerns expressed by a large number of Indigenous delegations as well as UNPFII members regarding participation in the World Conference:
122. In “a spirit of partnership and mutual respect”, the Forum further emphasizes the important standards set out in articles 18 and 19 of the Declaration, which provide the following: “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision- making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures…” and “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” Such equal, direct and meaningful participation by indigenous peoples throughout all stages of the World Conference is essential if it is to produce constructive results that will genuinely improve the status, conditions and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.
These same principles and rights must also apply to the planning and implementation of the Rio + 20 Earth Summit Conference which will take place in June, 2012. Insuring meaningful participation in the Rio + 20 Conference will be especially important in light of the continued concerns voiced by Indigenous Peoples regarding lack of full, formal and effective participation in various Conventions and processes that were created by the first Earth Summit in 1992, including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. These 2 major UN World Conferences directly impact the lives and rights of Indigenous Peoples. , the internationally-recognized minimum standards for Indigenous Peoples’ participation affirmed by the Declaration must be applied and upheld in their organization as well as their outcomes.
In conclusion Mr. Chairman, the North American regional caucus respectfully presents the following recommendations:
1) That the EMRIP 4th session endorse the proposal paragraph 122 of the report of the 10th session of the UNPFII [E/2011/43-E/C.19/2011/14] and incorporate it into their report to the UN Human Rights Council as the framework for Indigenous Peoples’ participation in these two upcoming World Conferences.
2) That these principles and framework for full participation be included as a recommendation in the EMRIP’s final Study of the Right to participate in decision-making to the Human Rights Council.
3) That the EMRIP recommend in its report to the 18th session of the UN Human Rights Council that that the principle of full, formal, equal and effective participation by Indigenous Peoples be applied to all future UN World Conferences based on the rights affirmed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
4) Finally, we endorse the proposal presented by EMRIP expert member Chief Wilton Littlechild that the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples be included as an agenda item beginning at the 5th session of the EMRIP in 2012 with a focus on ensuring the right to full, formal and effective participation for Indigenous Peoples in all phases and aspects of its organization, implementation and follow-up.