Opening Statement of the Eighth Meeting of Negotiations
(Greetings in an Indigenous Language)
Excellency Ambassador Juan Leon Alvarado,
President of the Working Group on the Drafting of the American Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Vice President of the Working Group, Ms. Ana Pena,
Distinguished Representatives of the [American] States
Indigenous brothers and sisters,
In the name of the Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of the Americas we wish to thank the Summit Secretariat of the Americas for organizing the Eighth Meeting of Negotiations in the Quest for Consensus on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Likewise, we thank the OAS member States for contributing to the Specific Fund that supports
the participation of the representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas at this important meeting.
We also would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge publicly the work carried out by the Vice President of the Working Group, the Alternate Ambassador, Mrs. Ana Pena. Her support has been essential to the progress made thus far. We invite other representatives of the States to continue in the same spirit that has permitted us to make substantial progress in the meetings of Guatemala and Brazil. We also wish to commend those countries that have demonstrated their good faith and political will to facilitate the mandate of the General Assembly to adopt the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We remind all the American States of the need to carry out national consultations on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in every country.
We strongly support the text of the UN Declaration adopted by the Human Rights Council. We express our concern over the position taken by some OAS member States in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in a vote to delay adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In effect, this decision of the Third Committee denies our status as Peoples according to international law. We deeply regret the actions of some of the American States at the UN who, after so many years of dialogue with us, have denied our fundamental rights as Indigenous Peoples.
We will continue to work in this 8th Session of the Working Group although we are aware that there has been a call to suspend this process until after the final adoption of the UN Declaration is secured.
However, we will not accept human rights standards that are lower than those that have been approved in the UN Declaration. During this week, we will participate with these critical considerations in mind.
We are concerned about the methodology adopted by the States, which appears to define consensus as unanimity. As Indigenous Peoples we will not compromise our human rights for the sake of arriving at a consensus with the States. We stand firm in our commitment to participate in this process, but it cannot have moral integrity if the States do not act with transparency, good faith and political will.
The right to self-determination is an inherent right of Indigenous Peoples. We therefore call upon the members of the OAS to join the UN Human Rights Council in recognizing that Indigenous Peoples, like all peoples under international law, have the right to self-determination.
We, the representatives of Indigenous Peoples with the protection of our Pacha Mama, continue to assert
Never more the Americas without Indigenous Peoples
WASHINGTON, DECEMBER OF 2006
UCTP Taino News Editor's note: Chief Damon Corrie of the Eagle Clan Arawaks (Barbados & Guyana) and Oswald Robinson (Garifuna) of Saint Vincent are in attendence at the meeting representing Caribbean Indigenous Peoples.