a) UCTP and the OAS: Taíno concerns were promoted at the recent meetings of the Organization of American States by Borikén Taíno Leader, Naniki Reyes Ocasio. The meeting focused on the proposed OAS Inter-American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The OAS proposed Declaration as well as the United Nations draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are two of the most important exercises currently underway to address the human rights of Indigenous peoples. While the latter is considered more responsive to Indigenous peoples’ concerns and aspirations, the proposed OAS instrument does include a number of important rights and guarantees and does further the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights in the Americas specifically. As such, the OAS proposed Declaration will remain a focus of the UCTP’s international advocacy work.
b) UN World Summit in the Information Society (WSIS): The Government of Canada, the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, and Canadian National Aboriginal Organizations (through the Aboriginal Canada Portal Working Group - ACPWG), supported indigenous peoples' participation at the WSIS Phase II Preparatory process from 17-18 March 2005 in Ottawa, Canada.
This two-day planning meeting was a follow up on the UN World Summit on the Information Society and the Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland in Dec.2003. The Ottawa conference highlighted Government/Development Agency Presentations as well as Indigenous Perspectives on the developments, opportunities and challenges of Information and Communications Technologies.
Representatives from states, Indigenous organizations and United Nations agencies participated in discussions on such diverse applications and issues as economic opportunities, e-learning, e-health, and e-government. A review of the implementation of the WSIS Plans of Action also took place and recommendations were made concerning “Forward Planning for Phase II of WSIS” to be held in Tunisia, in November 2005.
Of particular interest to the Caribbean Indigenous community was the participation of UCTP - U.S. Chairman and President Roberto Múcaro Borrero, who presented on a panel discussing Indigenous Media & Arts and Connectivity. The Chairman’s presentation focused on the UCTP’s online initiatives and was well received by all in attendance as many participants were unaware of the Taíno presence in the Caribbean and the Diaspora. Further, the UCTP web portal was identified as a ‘best practice’ as it is “currently the only online resource representing diverse voices of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples, which is developed, controlled and financed by Caribbean Indigenous Peoples”. The UCTP Web Portal will be featured with other Indigenous Peoples’ best practice initiatives from throughout the world within the final report of the conference as well as on various websites focusing on the WSIS. This is a positive and precedent-setting development for all Caribbean Indigenous Peoples.
In addition, an Indigenous Steering Committee for the WSIS was selected to forward the Indigenous Peoples agenda toward the Tunisia Summit. The selections of members were based on the geographical regions identified by the Permanent Forum on indigenous Issues, with two focal points for each region. For Latin American and the Caribbean, Marcos Terena of Brazil and Roberto Múcaro Borrero were elected by the Latin American and Caribbean Caucus in attendance.
A final report is forth-coming from the organizers and the UCTP will post this and other information concerning the WSIS as it becomes available.