Today, during its session in Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations Human Rights Council discussed the report of the Working Group on a draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with a view toward its adoption or continued negotiations.
From reports received by the UCTP, Indigenous Peoples attending the session are overwhelmingly in favor of the Declaration and urging its adoption by the Council. Interestingly, Indigenous Peoples and Governments at the session both recognized although the text is a “compromise”, it is a positive move forward for the international recognition and respect of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. A majority of Governments seem to now be moving toward supporting the Declaration. Indigenous Peoples are also supporting the draft Declaration via regional caucuses, and statements which have been presented to the Council include the Pacific, North America, Latin America, and Asia.
Considering these factors, the UCTP (including its members Caney Quinto Mundo, Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos, Fundacion Luz Cosmica Taina and affiliates Joboshirima Arawak Community, and the Eagle Clan Arawaks) has decided to support the regional efforts, and urges the Human Rights Council to adopt the UN draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The UCTP now awaits the decision of other indigenous representatives from the Caribbean region, so that a Caribbean regional statement of support can be issued.
Of special note to the Caribbean region are the statements that were made by BRAZIL speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), and Guatemala who supported GRULAC while acknowledging the rights of Maya, GARIFUNA, and Xinca Peoples in Guatemala. The statements are included here for review.
Oma’bahari (With respect),
Roberto Mukaro Borrero,
President and Chairman,
UCTP Office of International Relations and
Statements presented by BRAZIL and GUATEMALA at the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 27, 2006
CLODOALDO HUGUENEY (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), said it was time to send a positive signal and bring to an end a situation that had been lasting for two decades already. There was a need for recognition of the historical legacy that indigenous peoples were suffering from, and a set of measures should be set up for their survival, existence and development, with solutions found for their situation. The proposed declaration recognized their particularly vulnerable situation, and it was recognised that they had been victims of discrimination for centuries, and were free and equal in dignity and rights and should not suffer from any form of discrimination due to their identity. Poverty, marginalisation, social exclusion and economic inequalities were linked to racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination, which in turn generated more poverty.
Governments had committed themselves at the World Conference against Racism to combat all forms of racial discrimination. In strengthening the common work against racism, this safeguarded the dignity of human beings, and the just aspirations of all. This was a struggle which strengthened the foundations of peaceful coexistence. This was the reason for the active work and the many proposals that had led the GRULAC countries to ensure that the declaration would be useful for all peoples.
CARLOS ARROYAVE PRERA (Guatemala) said that Guatemala supported the statement made by Brazil on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States. On 1 March 1995, as an outcome of the peace process and negotiations among indigenous representatives and the parties to the conflict, the agreement on the identity and rights of indigenous peoples had been signed. That document attempted to overcome the racism and exclusion that these people had suffered from. It also recognized the inherent rights of the Maya, Garifuna and Xinca peoples.
Guatemala wanted to stress the work it had intensively undertaken to develop a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Such a declaration found an echo in many of the actions that had already been undertaken by the Guatemalan Government at the national level. From 1995 to today, the Government had taken many actions to eliminate discrimination against indigenous peoples and to allow them to fully participate in civic life and to enjoy their rights. The United Nations had invested 21 years in formulating a draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The text submitted by the Working Group represented an agreed text, and it was Guatemala's belief that the Human Rights Council should not prolong the consideration of the text any longer.