One highlight of the week was the surprise proclamation by the Government of New Zealand stating that it would now support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice also surprised those in attendance by stating the Obama Administration would formally review its position on the Declaration. In 2007, the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States opposed the adoption of the landmark human rights legislation. Australia was the first of the four countries to reverse its position now leaving the U.S. and Canada as the only UN member States still opposed to the Declaration.
During the week the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) presented a statement to the Forum on the issue of Human Rights and Caribbean Indigenous Peoples. The Confederation recommended that the Forum facilitate a Special Regional Consultative Session to focus on the unique situation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples. The UCTP presentation also noted that because of Boriken’s (Puerto Rico) colonial status, indigenous representatives from the island are continuously discriminated against and or denied funding opportunities to participate in meetings, conferences, regional specific consultations, and capacity building sessions.
UCTP delegates also contributed to joint presentations along with other indigenous representatives participating in the Tribal Link Foundation sponsored Project Access Training and Capacity Building Project.
On Friday, the Confederation engaged the Convention on Biological Diversity with a call to increase Caribbean indigenous participation in related initiatives. The UCTP called on the Convention’s Secretariat to organize a Caribbean sub-regional capacity building session in collaboration with local and regional indigenous organizations.
The Permanent Forum will continue its session next week with a focus on future work, its report for this current session, and the development of an agenda for its 10th Session in 2011.