| International Indian Treaty Council |
CONSEJO INTERNACIONAL DE TRATADOS INDIOS
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
STATEMENT BY THE INDIGENOUS CAUCUS
This statement is issued by representatives of Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations who are meeting in Geneva on the occasion of International Human Rights day, 10 December 2002.
As the world community may know, the United Nations draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represents a statement of the minimum standards by which Indigenous Peoples will be able to maintain and sustain their distinct nations, peoples and communities.
We call upon the United Nations to confirm the rights of Indigenous Peoples, so that marginalisation and manifest discrimination against Indigenous Peoples around the world can be addressed.
At this time, State members of the United Nations continue to express an unwillingness to recognize and respect our fundamental collective and individual human rights, including that of self-determination, which is considered a pre-requisite to the exercise of all rights.
Indigenous Peoples are peoples and have the full right to self-determination.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved by the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities eight years ago, but only two of the forty five (45) articles have been subsequently endorsed in the working group.
That achievement was made five years ago, in the second session of the working group. Progress has been unnecessarily slow.
The Member states of the United Nations should be more motivated to achieve the objective of the adoption of the Declaration within the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples, that is, by Year 2004. But our rights, as affirmed in the declaration, must not be compromised in that time.
Presently, some States are not prepared to recognize the universality of the human rights which apply to Indigenous Peoples.
However, we also note that a growing number of States are prepared to adopt the declaration without amendment.
We are encouraged by this support and request all States to seriously consider adoption of the declaration in the original text.
Clearly, the reticence of some States to make their domestic policies subject to international standards has to be overcome.
We reject the erroneous allegations that Indigenous Peoples are not prepared to consider reasonable changes to the Declaration. We have always made it clear that any proposals for change should comply with the principles of equality, non-discrimination and the absolute prohibition of racial discrimination, which is peremptory norm under international law
In this regard, nation state members of the UN have no authority to advance proposals and positions which are inconsistent with these principles or which violate existing peremptory norms.
This is a violation of the fundamental principle that human rights are universal, and would undermine the existing rights embraced by the United Nations Charter and the International Bill of Rights.
Approximately two hundred delegates, representing Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations from all regions of the world, are participating in a United Nations meeting in Geneva to consider the draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Declaration affirms that Indigenous Peoples are equal in dignity and rights to all other peoples and recognizes the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such.
The Declaration also affirms that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind.
The Declaration affirms, promotes and protects the distinct rights of Indigenous Peoples, including self- determination and participation in decision-making; land rights and environment; religious practices; language and oral traditions; and access to education in our own language.
The two articles which have been adopted in the first reading are as follows:
Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.
All the rights and freedoms recognized herein are equally guaranteed to male and female indigenous individuals.
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