Indigenous peoples censured at United Nations (again)

by February 15, 2008
 

Yesterday morning, a delegation of Indigenous peoples withdrew from the Protected Areas meeting organized under the International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) after being told they would not be allowed to participate unless they were backed by a party. This is a significant departure from previous meetings which allowed indigenous people to independently table proposals.

Before walking out, the delegates gagged themselves and held up signs in protest. Jannie Lasimbang of the Kudasan People of Malaysia also read a formal statement expressing the delegations concerns. You can find the statement below.

This is the second time Indigenous People have been censured at the United Nations since the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted. Last December, an indigenous delegation was forcibly barred from entering negotiations at the 13th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Indigenous people also gagged themselves to protest this shameful exclusion.

Satement presented at Plenary February 14, 2008

Thank you Mr Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Over the last fifteen years indigenous peoples have been participating in the CBD process contributing to its work and implementation with the best of our experiences, knowledge and will. Our efforts have been recognized on many occasions and we therefore have been able to participate and contribute to the deliberations and positive outcomes.
Throughout this time we have been able to express our views and concerns regarding our fundamental rights, which are a critical aspect of biological diversity and conservation and of the international obligations of all state Parties.

The CBD calls for full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the implementation and processes of the Convention, at the national, regional and international levels (goal 4.3 of the Strategic Plan and 2010 Biodiversity Target). As you may be aware, COP 5 formally recognized the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity as an advisory body of the CBD. Furthermore, Decision 8/24 stressed the need for the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities respecting fully their rights consistent with national law
and applicable international obligations.

Mr. chairman, we have made great efforts to be part of this process. However, it is with great disappointment that right from the beginning of this WGPA-2 meeting we have found ourselves marginalized and without opportunity to take the floor in a timely manner to express our points of view. Yesterday afternoon we were silenced at a critical moment of providing our contributions to the deliberations on the recommendations on implementation of the Programme of Work. Further, despite your assurances, Mr. Chairman, that all recommendations would be included in
the CRP, none of our recommendations were included in CRP2. This is extremely disturbing in light of the relevance of these recommendations to our lives, lands and the effective implementation of the Programme of Work.

Mr. Chairman, in view of this unacceptable censuring, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity expresses its strong protest at this treatment and has unanimously decided to leave this process which clearly does not respect our rights and participation. We refuse to participate in a process that is making decisions over our lives and yet
expects us to be silent observers.

We will be considering further appropriate measures. We have been advised by several NGOs that we also have their support on our decision.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

There’s more information available at indigenousstatement.blogspot.com. You can also visit iisd.ca/biodiv/wgpa2 to read bulletins and highlights from the overall meeting.

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