Major Conference on Small Islands to Convene at United Nations Headquarters

Most Overseas Countries & Territories Eligible to Participate

United Nations member States will undertake a 5-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States at the beginning of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly. The session will convene for two days on 24-25 September 2010.

Those overseas countries and territories (OCTs) which are associate members of the United Nations regional economic commissions are eligible for participation in the conference in the capacity of official observer providing for full participation in the proceedings including the right to address the session from the podium, and participation in all other events consistent with established practice. The legislative authority for the participation of the OCTs in the conference is U.N. General Assembly 64/199 of 21 December 2009 which:

"Invites the participation of associate members of regional commissions in the high-level review, subject to the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, and in the preparatory process thereof, as observers, in the same capacity specified for their participation at the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Mauritius from 10 to 14 January 2005."

Eligible Associate Member Countries

(Bermuda) 1/
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Netherlands Antilles
Puerto Rico
(Turks & Caicos) 2/
US Virgin Islands
American Samoa
Cook Islands
French Polynesia
New Caledonia
Northern Mariana Islands
Tokelau 1/

1/ Territory is not an associate member of a UN regional economic commission
2/ Due to suspension of elected government eligibility for participation is in question.

The genesis of participation of the associate member countries in United Nations world conferences emerged from the Working Group of Non-Independent Caribbean Countries (NICCs) of the Caribbean Development & Cooperation Committee (a subsidary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) dating to the early 1990s.

The category of participation of "Associate Members of Regional Economic Commissions" in United Nations world conferences and special sessions of the General Assembly was initiated by the associate members of ECLAC in the run-up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), otherwise known as the Earth Summit. The result was the establishment of a mechanism through which the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) could engage the international debate on issues in the economic and social sphere as it directly affects them. It should be noted that for those OCTs whose international relations are controlled by an administering power, the eligibility criteria for participation of the territories has been adopted by consensus in the UN General Assembly with the support of the cosmopolitan countries.

Several United Nations studies were undertaken to bring to light modalities for the participation of OCTs in the UN world conferences, and in the wider United Nations system, respectively. These studies serve as a blueprint for participation.

Governments of associate member countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) are urged to communicate their interest in participation to the United Nations Department of General Assembly and ECOSOC Affairs, or alternatively to contact their respective regional commission offices in Trinidad and Tobago (for the Caribbean), and Fiji (for the Pacific) for further information.

Source: Overseas Review


Global Appeal and World Wide Drum Ceremony

MALUKU (UCTP Taino News) - Indigenous elders in Maluku and West Papua have taken the initiative to organize a global appeal with a World Wide Drum Ceremony by Indigenous Peoples throughout the world on September 13, 2010. The appeal is being organized to urge governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Organizers of the event are calling on indigenous communities and organizations to draft memorandums on their current situations, which can be sent to national governments on Sept. 13th. The memorandums would also call for the implementation of the UNDRIP. Communities are also urged to organize a drum ceremony on the same day to “help sound the indigenous voice around the world”. Supporters are encouraged to use any traditional instruments for the campaign.

“We hope that as many Indigenous Peoples as possible could take part in this campaign to make this global event a great success” stated Pelpina Sahureka on behalf of the organizers. She hopes that communities will make videos of their participation and send them to the organizers at mu@nusaalifuru.org.

The appeal has been gaining attention around the world.

“The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important issue for us and we are urging our communities and allies to consider supporting this appeal” stated Roberto Borrero a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People.

The Confederation helped to organize Caribbean regional support of the UNDRIP toward its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 13, 2007.

144 counties voted in favor of the Declaration’s passage with 4 countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States - voting against it.

Australia and New Zealand have since reversed their decision in favor of endorsing the UNDRIP. Canada and the United States are currently reviewing their decisions.

UCTPTN 09.07.2010


Ohio refusing some older Puerto Rican birth certificates; national Latino group charges racism

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Elizabeth Torres was stung when her 19-year-old son said he'd been turned down for a state-issued Ohio identification card because his birth certificate from Puerto Rico was considered invalid.

"We're not illegal aliens, we are citizens of this country," Torres said. "We have everything, all the documents and all that, but we are not treated as such."

People born in Puerto Rico are finding that older birth certificates from the U.S. territory are not being accepted when applying for a state ID or driver's license at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a reaction to concerns about possible fraud that a national Hispanic group said smacks of racial discrimination.

Since early April, the bureau has refused to accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before Jan. 1 as proof of identity and date of birth. The policy reflects a law on the island that will invalidate all older birth certificates on Sept. 30, the agency said.

"They are not placing credibility in their certificates," said Ohio BMV spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said. "For an agency that uses a birth certificate as one of the primary documents to be able to verify identity, that's something we have to look very hard at."

Ohio already has dealt with cases in which Puerto Rican birth certificates were used fraudulently. In a scheme uncovered in 2008, Puerto Rican certificates were being sold to illegal immigrants in Virginia, and they were then brought to Ohio to obtain state ID cards, Komlanc said.

At the time, federal prosecutors said that Ohio was chosen because it had looser procedures for obtaining identification at licensing bureaus. A federal judge in Harrisonburg, Va., last year sentenced one Columbus woman to a year in prison, while another - a clerk at a licensing office - received 30 months' probation.

Puerto Rico's law change followed raids last year against a criminal ring that stole thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several schools in the U.S. commonwealth. The island is now requiring about 5 million people - including 1.4 million in the U.S. - to apply for new birth certificates with security features.

Puerto Rico began issuing the replacements July 1, but the older birth certificates are still valid for another month, Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock said.

McClintock said he contacted Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's deputy legal counsel last week to discuss the issue, arguing that the state was disregarding Puerto Rico's law.

Ohio has the nation's 10th largest Puerto Rican population, according to 2006-2008 Census data. The state had an estimated 26,498 residents born in Puerto Rico; Florida ranked first with 337,408, followed by New York with 318,239.

Based on current information, the Ohio governor's office sees no reason to change the state's policy, Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.

"It is in an effort to address the safety and well-being of Ohioans and to avoid issuing identification cards with fraudulently acquired birth certificates," Wurst said.

Brent Wilkes, executive director of the 115,000-member League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, D.C., charged that any state that has already decided the existing certificates are invalid is acting out of bias.

"Puerto Rico is being victimized because of the fact you've got so much attention on Latino immigrants in the United States," Wilkes said. "Puerto Ricans are not immigrants, but they're still Latinos."

Komlanc countered that Ohio also is cautious with other birth certificates, noting that the state won't accept a version of Indiana's birth certificate that does not include gender.

Representatives from Wilkes' group met Wednesday with Thomas Stickrath, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the BMV. He explained the agency's position and appreciated the opportunity for dialogue, Komlanc said. The meeting opened channels of communication, said Marilyn Zayas-Davis, Ohio legal adviser for LULAC.

North Dakota also places restrictions on Puerto Rican birth certificates and will not accept them without backup documentation. The policy has not been much of an issue, said Jamie Olson, a spokeswoman for the state's transportation department.

Other states have handled the Puerto Rican certificates less stringently. For example, officials said Kansas will honor birth certificates from Puerto Rico through Sept. 30, and Hawaii will accept them at least through that date.

Tom Jacobs a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, said the Puerto Rican government's directive caused four days of confusion, "but where we stand now, we will accept Puerto Rican birth certificates."

So will Arkansas, said Michael Munn, assistant commissioner of revenue for operations and administration. He said problems with validity of Puerto Rican birth certificates had arisen in fewer than 10 cases in Arkansas since the issue was brought to his office's attention early in the summer.

In Ohio, Torres' son, Alfredo Pagan, doesn't drive, but needed an Ohio ID card to take his high school equivalency test, his mother explained in her native Spanish.

"My son wants to get a job and help me with the house expenses and all that," said the 40-year-old Torres, a hotel housekeeper who left Puerto Rico 12 years ago and lives in Cleveland.

Ohio is willing to work with people born in Puerto Rico to see if they have other forms of documentation, such as a passport or school records, that can verify their identity, Komlanc said.

She said that part of the process apparently was not followed properly in the case of Alfredo Pagan, and the BMV is trying to contact him.

Author: Doug Whiteman ; Associated Press Writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Sandra Chereb in Carson City, Nev.; John Hanna in Topeka, Kan.; Mark Niesse in Honolulu; and, Tom Parsons in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

Source: Associated Press