Indigenous Peoples Discuss Draft American Declaration

Panama City, Panama (UCTP Taino News) - At the 3rd Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas delegates received an update on the status of the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The morning panel included June Lorenzo (Laguana), Azelene Inacio (Kaingang), and Luis Toro of the Organization of American States. The panel was moderated by Grand Chief Ed John of the Assembly of First Nations.

Luis Toro noted that the OAS officially adopted the recommendation presented by the Indigenous Peoples Caucus to advance the negotiations. As a point of consideration, Toro highlighted that considering the low number of actual meetings the negotiations can be seen as progressing. He also informed the group that "while there is funding to hold at least two more negotiation meetings this year , there is no word on next year's budget."

"Indigenous Peoples want to establish a mechanism to implement the rights of Indigenous Peoples within the system of the OAS" stated Azelene Inacio (Kaingang), an indigenous representative from Brazil.

Inacio also noted that Indigenous Peoples participation in the negotiations is dependent on State sponsored funding. "While States say they support the full participation of Indigenous Peoples in this process, the funding mechanism is still voluntary."

In light of the recent adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples panelists addressed the need for an American Declaration as well as the importance of the OAS document to not fall below the established UN standard.

"We have a large amount of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas who care for a large land mass extending throughout the region" stated June Lorenzo.

"The Americas are ahead of other regions in the world with regard to preparing a regional declaration on Indigenous Peoples" continued Lorenzo. "We have a regional judicial system - the Inter-American Court on Human Rights - which has actually heard cases concerning Indigenous Peoples".

"There are articles in the draft American Declaration that are not found in the UN Declaration such as an article on Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation."

UCTPTN 04.15.2009

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