Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Agreement reached on Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


An agreement has been reached over the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The 'Co-sponsors' and the Africa Group of States have now reached agreement over an amended version of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.The Indigenous Peoples Caucus is undertaking an urgent consultation with Indigenous Peoples delegations to determine whether the amended Declaration is to be supported or rejected. This important consultation ultimately means the amended Declaration is to be approved by the General Assembly or not adopted.The States that are bound in this agreement will represent a clear majority of the UN members and it will guarantee adoption. It is possible that all States will support the amended Declaration, except a few 'hard-line' opponents. We know who those opponents are.These urgent consultations will determine whether we can live with the amendments, and the Declaration is adopted, OR whether we cannot accept the agreed version, and the Declaration will not be adopted. Your careful scrutiny, combined with priority attention to this consultation, is called for.The attached document contains the relevant information, including a copy of the amended Declaration.All comments should be sent to the relevant regional coordinators, as shown in the document, so that an assessment can be made of the level of support or opposition.In addition you may receive separate communications from your regional coordinator in the regional process to determine responses.On behalf of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus 'Steering Committee' I extend our apologies for the urgency of this consultation. It is beyond our control. The General Assembly will consider this Declaration within the next seven working days in New York.Thank you for your attention to this matter and your urgent consideration of the situation.regards,
: +1 (646) 338 3029Website: www.ipcaucus.netOFFICEThe Church Center777 UN PlazaIITC Office, 8th FloorNew York, NY 10017Tel: +1 (212) 682 3633 ext. 3123Fax: +1 (212) 682 5354

From: American Indian Law Alliance
Dear Indigenous Brothers & Sisters,

1. We have very serious news to report. We have been informally advised today that the Mexican representative, apparently actingon behalf of Latin American and EU states (³supporting states²) thatsupported the UN Human Rights Council¹s text of the Declaration on theRights of Indigenous Peoples, has reached an agreement with representativesof the African Group of States (AGS) on a modified text which will besubmitted to the G.A. for its adoption on September 13, 2007. We have alsoheard that the Mexican representative informed representatives of the AGSand other supporting states that the Indigenous Caucus had agreed to themodification. We have been told that the modification includes language infinal article 46 that reproduces, or closely resembles, this paragraph takenfrom the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action:

³In accordance with the Declaration on Principles ofInternational Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among Statesin Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, this shall not beconstrued as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember orimpair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity ofsovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance withthe principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and thuspossessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to theterritory without distinction as to race, creed or color.²

2. We note that, from the start of the deliberations in the GAon the Declaration, the representatives of ³supporting states² assured uspublicly, over and over again, that they would not agree to any modificationto the text without the approval of indigenous peoples. Yesterdaymorning, the representatives of Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala briefed a dozenor so indigenous persons and supporters on the ongoing negotiations theywere conducting with AGS states WITHOUT showing us any language for ourperusal, let alone approval which, in any event, would have to come from ournations and peoples and not a handful of indigenous persons meeting in NewYork even if they had seen the proposed language. We understand that theMexican representative met later in the evening with two indigenous persons.We do not know what transpired between them but, regardless, two persons donot, there and then, have the authority to agree to language that affects500 million indigenous peoples.

3. AILA fervently hopes that the report is not true. That, atmost, Mexico told the AGS that it would report proposed language back toindigenous peoples who, in all decency, must see the actual text and havethe time to confer with our peoples and nations back home regarding itscontent, just as state representatives confer with their capitals on issuesof this importance.

4. AILA urges all of us to demand that Mexico and othersupporting states meet and confer immediately with ALL interested indigenouspersons and supporters in New York on the text of the Declaration to beadopted. AILA, for its part, will state that it cannot accept the insertionof the said paragraph from the Vienna Declaration as it could evisceratethe Declaration of our peoples' rights that so many of us, living and dead,have worked for arduously for over two decades.

5. Permanent Missions to the United Nations Mexico 212 752-0220

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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