World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
22, September 2014: On the first day of the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a formal document that will commit the UN and Member States to take a number of actions to put into effect and encourage compliance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The full text can be accessed at: www.un.org/en/ga/69/meetings/indigenous/pdf/WCIP%20Draft%20outcome%20document%20-%20rev1.pdf
“It took more than 20 years to adopt a UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said David Coquehuanca from Plurinational State of Bolivia. “We have moved a long way but still more needs to be done for Member states to incorporate this Declaration in their respective Constitutions and laws.”
The Conference document was adopted by consensus, after months of drafting and consultations among Member States of the UN and indigenous peoples from around the world. Voices from different Member States recognized good and critical elements of the Document such as:
• Initiating a process to create a permanent body in the UN system that will monitor and encourage implementation of the Declaration;
• Adopting the document will help to facilitate the commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples in their context local and national realities and continue further implementation of this declaration;
• Considering options for a General Assembly decision to make it possible for Indian tribal governments and other indigenous governments to participate in UN meetings on a permanent basis;
• Giving particular attention to the epidemic of violence against indigenous women, including Indian and Alaska Native women in the United States;
• Measures to respect and protect places sacred to Indian and other indigenous nations and peoples.
The document, also calls for the development of a system-wide action plan for the UN system to bring greater coherence and effectiveness to the UN’s work relating to indigenous peoples, special attention to be paid to the Post 2015 Agenda. In spite of the good spirit and welcoming words for the adoption of the document, many member states and representatives of different indigenous groups and tribes referred to the serious challenges that were NOT sufficiently or NOT included AT ALL in the document.
Some of the remarks in this respect included the need to include indigenous groups in all development decisions, debates and agendas meaningfully and in a resourceful manner. Special calls were made towards Member States that haven’t yet accorded recognition to the culture, traditions and wisdom of children and the youth in the education systems. It was also highlighted that there is a need to increase the political participation of indigenous people in decision-making processes as well as facilitating an enabling environment for the effective inclusion of indigenous youth in the definition, creation, implementation and evaluation of education programmes.
In regards to possible protection mechanisms, the need giving due attention and analysis of the development challenges such as land grabbing, mercantilization of life, and nature, which especially affects the lives of indigenous peoples, was emphasized. Violations of human rights of indigenous peoples by paramilitary or other forms of state repressions need to be recognized as well. In addition, the creation of a legally binding mechanism to hold transnational companies accountable to address the multiple intersecting crisis in relation to extravist models and transnational corporations. There is also a need to recognize the current militarization on territories that specifically affect indigenous peoples especially in Africa, Asia and Latina America as well as the right to self-determination. In this regard, the situation in the Pacific in respect to colonization by the US where there has been no intervention from the United Nations was raised as an example.
The current rate of persisting violence against women and girls around the globe was also raised as one of the concerns. With respect to the indigenous peoples, violence discrimination, and crime are more magnified due to intersectional forms of oppression. More reporting needs to be done in terms of collecting data on VAW and G, since most of the cases are under reported. For example, American Indian and Alaskan women suffer the most sexual violence and domestic violence and 1 in 3 will be raped in their lifetime. Thus, there is a need to create and strengthen national and legal response mechanisms for violence against Indigenous women with a more specific and targeted resources. In this regard, a call for a High level conference on Indigenous Women and Girls and the need for appointing a UN spoke person on indigenous Women and Children was raised.
You can read more at the website: http://www.wcip2014.org
By Alejandra Scampini (AWID)