Posted: December 5, 2006
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CPA Statement on the Deferment of the Adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


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December 5 , 2006

The CPA joins the many voices of indigenous peoples and their advocates including a number of state governments in the disappointing turn of events at the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations. The UN General Assembly has voted for the deferment of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The resolution came from the Namibian delegation with support from a number of African States. Eighty two (82) countries voted for the deferment with 67 against and 25 abstentions.

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the newly created UN Human Rights Council in its first session on June 29 of this year. The declaration is a product of a decade of arduous work among indigenous peoples themselves, which was subjected to another decade of interactive dialogue between states.

The declaration adopted by the UN Human Rights Council is an unprecedented consensus between indigenous peoples and states which contains minimum standards of rights of indigenous peoples as individuals and as peoples, at the core of which are the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to their ancestral lands and natural resources. The Declaration further sets forth the obligation of states to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

From the perspective of CPA, the declaration as currently drafted does not enshrine the full aspiration of indigenous peoples. From the onset, CPA believes that the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples can only be fully realized under a self-determining nation-state. For so long as nation-states are dominated by feudal lords and local capitalists subservient to foreign domination, the right to self-determination of peoples will hardly be fully exercised. Bearing this in mind, CPA still took the challenge of engaging in the standard setting processes provided by the UN because we are convinced that the United Nations is a powerful arena of engaging nation-states to uphold human rights, without discrimination.

In those long years of substantive dialogue with states, CPA has yielded to repeated concerns of states on fundamental issues such as political and territorial integrity of states, land and resource rights, individual versus collective rights. The declaration as currently worded is a much weaker version from its original Sub-Commission draft declaration. But, similar to the views of a majority of our indigenous colleagues, we have to move forward. Along the spirit of mutual respect and collaborative effort between states and indigenous peoples, we conceded to the concerns of States. We have accepted a weaker version of the draft declaration.

We were almost at the end of our journey in the UN with the document being considered for adoption by the 61st General Assembly. The Namibia resolution, supported by a number of African States has stifled the near victory.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance views the deferment as a pretext, plain and simple, for the continuing discriminatory attitude against indigenous peoples. We share the sentiment of our indigenous colleagues that the action denies the rights of indigenous peoples as “peoples”, because of the biased view that indigenous peoples are “lesser peoples”.

We are disappointed, frustrated and outraged. We are outraged that the powerful countries of the world are taking advantage of the helplessness of poor countries to maliciously manipulate the UN processes to advance their interests. We hold the governments of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, including the African states, responsible for the continuing denial of the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination.

In these trying times, CPA will persevere and will continue to pursue its engagement with the United Nations. We will continue to call on the United Nations to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, NOW! ###

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