Negotiations Continue on American Indigenous Rights Declaration

WASHINGTON D.C. (UCTP Taino News) — Indigenous leaders from throughout the Americas gathered in in Washington DC this week to participate in the negotiations on an American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The proposed legal framework focuses on the protection of the economic, cultural, and political rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The meetings took place from Nov. 30 - December 2, 2009 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS is a regional inter-governmental organization that seeks to build peace, solidarity and collaboration in the Americas.

“This work needs to be completed,” said Armstrong Wiggins, director of the Indian Law Resource Center’s Washington office. “The declaration is not yet adopted, and I fear it could become an orphan if states do not act more seriously on it.”

Damon Corrie, an Arawak activist from Barbados agrees. Corrie and other Caribbean indigenous delegates from Dominica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Vincent, and Suriname continue to be concerned about the lack of participation from CARICOM governments within these important negotiations.

“The only CARICOM member State showing any interest in this process is the Republic of Guyana” noted Corrie. “This process will have a tremendous impact on whether future relations between Indigenous Peoples and political states will be equitable and harmonious or unjust and adversarial.”

According to a recent press release from the Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC), this dialogue comes as global initiatives are threatening indigenous rights. The World Bank and United Nations for example have funded several projects that are designed to provide climate change solutions but instead could harm indigenous communities if developed on their lands and territories. These projects could lead to violations of indigenous peoples’ land and natural resources rights.

The ILRC and other participating organizations assert that the declaration would address these threats and establish a legal framework to protect indigenous rights from potential violations.

UCTPTN 12.02.2009

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