/noticias.info/ The Commission on Human Rights this morning started its consideration of indigenous issues, hearing from four Experts on the rights of indigenous peoples who presented reports about the education of indigenous peoples, the Working Group on the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous peoples' sovereignty over natural resources, and the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations.
Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, said many indigenous peoples, especially the girl child, found it difficult to access education of a similar quality as that offered to non-indigenous peoples. What had led to the destruction of the communities of indigenous peoples was the implementation of educational policies ignoring their particularities, but this was becoming less the case, although the issue was not fully resolved. He also spoke about his missions to Colombia and Canada.
Speaking as a concerned country, Colombia said the indigenous community of Colombia had been disturbed by the persistent terrorist actions of the armed group operating in the territory. The armed group had violated with impunity the Constitution and other legislation that provided for the human rights of the indigenous people. However, the Government was working towards maintaining peace and security in all areas. The Government would also continue, in a transparent manner, to guarantee the security of its people, particularly the indigenous citizens.
Canada, also speaking as a concerned country, said the areas highlighted in the report as presenting the greatest challenges for Canada today coincided largely with the areas chosen by the Government for increased action to close the unacceptable socio-economic gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. Just before the visit of the Special Rapporteur, the Prime Minister had initiated the Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Round-table as the centerpiece of efforts to renew the relationship with the country's Aboriginal peoples.
Luis-Enrique Chavez, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on a draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noted that the Working Group had received a mandate to draft the draft declaration before the end of the first International Decade for Indigenous Peoples. In the time originally allotted, it had not been possible to complete that work. However, the Commission should know that, just because consensus had not been reached in the time allotted, it was not impossible to achieve consensus. He asked the Commission to extend the Working Group's mandate, so that it could finish its task.
Also presenting her report was Erica-Irene A. Daes, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on indigenous people's sovereignty over natural resources, who said her study was meant to contribute substantially and to be practically useful to States, in particular to their executive, judicial and administrative authorities, by facilitating the solution of a number of serious problems facing governments and indigenous peoples and even to assist States and indigenous peoples to achieve a reconciliation.
Jose Carlos Morales Morales, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, said the Voluntary Fund had given indigenous peoples a voice at the United Nations by giving them the opportunity to participate in relevant meetings and to contribute in the deliberations with their first hand experience. This ensured that indigenous peoples were provided with the opportunity to raise their issues on the international arena, to network with other indigenous organizations and non-governmental organizations, and to relate with Governments and other United Nations bodies.
National delegations that took the floor in the general debate on indigenous issues outlined the efforts made in their respective countries for the promotion and protection of indigenous rights by adopting relevant legislation and by implementing measures to improve the living conditions of the indigenous peoples.
Several speakers from non-governmental organizations regretted that the Working Group charged to draft a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was unable to complete its work during the last ten years, while others saw the adoption of two articles by the Group as progress.
Argentina, Norway, Luxembourg, Indonesia and Ecuador participated in the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.
Statements were made by the Representatives of Australia, Norway (also on behalf of the Nordic countries), Ecuador, Mexico (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Countries GRULAC), Peru, Canada, Cuba, Russian Federation, Germany, China, New Zealand and Venezuela.
The Representatives of World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Office (ILO), and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also spoke.
Also speaking were non-governmental organizations from Indigenous World Association, speaking in a joint statement with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Rural Development Foundation of Pakistan, Amnesty International, speaking in a joint statement with Friends World Committee for Consultation - QUAKERS; International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development - Rights and Democracy, World Peace Council, speaking in a joint statement with Movimiento Cubano por la paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos, International Commission of Jurists, speaking in a joint statement with Andean Commission of Jurists, Transnational Radical Party, International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements, Colombian Commission of Jurists American Association of Jurists, Jubilee Campaign, International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic & Other Minorities, and Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education.
The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. to continue its discussion on indigenous issues and to start its consideration of specific groups and individuals including migrant workers, minorities, mass exoduses and displaced persons, and other vulnerable groups and individuals.
Documents on Indigenous Issues
Under its agenda item on indigenous issues, the Commission has before it several documents for its consideration.
There is the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, (E/CN.4/2005/88). The report focuses on the obstacles, disparities and challenges facing indigenous peoples with regard to access to and quality of education and the cultural appropriateness of educational approaches. It also contains examples of good practice initiatives aimed at solving the educational problems of indigenous peoples in various countries. The Special Rapporteur recommends to Governments, among other things, that they attach high priority to the objectives and principles of indigenous education and that they provide public and private agencies and institutions involved in promoting indigenous education with sufficient material, institutional and intellectual resources. The Special Rapporteur urges that special attention be paid to the relationship between indigenous peoples and the environment, and that participatory scientific research be promoted in this area. He also recommends that the mass media regularly include in their programming content relating to indigenous peoples and cultures in a context of respect for the principles of tolerance, fairness and non-discrimination established in international human rights instruments, and that indigenous peoples and communities be given the right to access to the mass media, including radio, television and the Internet.
The first addendum to the report (Add.1) contains an analysis of country situations and a summary of cases transmitted and replies received from 17 governments and other communications. It also provides a summary of the Special Rapporteur's missions already undertaken and outlines his future activities.
The second addendum (Add.2) concerns the mission of the Special Rapporteur to Colombia in March 2004. The report notes that Colombia has made progress in recent years in terms of the constitutional recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. There are still enormous challenges to be faced, however, in the effective promotion and protection of indigenous people's human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Special Rapporteur indicates that the Government has assured him of its determination to deal effectively with the social and economic problems that face more than 700,000 indigenous people in Colombia. Of particular concern are the devastating effects of the armed conflict on indigenous peoples. The Special Rapporteur recommends, among other things, that the Government secure the supply and free passage of food to indigenous communities in conflict zones, in particular to the neediest groups; mobilize international cooperation for an emergency programme of aid to the indigenous communities in danger of extinction, particularly in the Amazon region; and conduct immediate investigations by the prosecution services and the application of the law in all cases concerning complaints of abuses and violations committed against members of indigenous communities by the armed forces and the police.
The third addendum (Add.3) to the report contains information on the Special Rapporteur's mission to Canada undertaken in May-June 2004. It notes that Aboriginal peoples represent 4.4 per cent of Canada's total population of 30 million inhabitants. While expressing his satisfaction about Canada's commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal people share the country's prosperity, the Special Rapporteur notes that economic, social and human indicators of well-being, quality of life and development are consistently lower among Aboriginal people than other Canadians. The Special Rapporteur recommends, among other things, that new legislation on Aboriginal rights be enacted by the Parliament of Canada; that the Government intensify its measures to close the human development gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians in the fields of health care, housing, education, welfare and social services; that efforts be increased at all levels to reduce and eliminate the overrepresentation of Aboriginal men, women and children in detention; and that Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organization concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries be ratified promptly.
The fourth addendum to the report (Add.4) contains the conclusions and recommendations of the Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples and Education held in Paris in October 2004. The Seminar, which was organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, was attended by over 60 experts in the field of indigenous peoples and education, governments representatives, academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
There is the report of the Working Group on the draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples on its tenth session held in November-December 2004, presented by its Chairperson-Rapporteur, Luis-Enrique Chávez, (E/CN.4/2005/89). The report reflects the discussions which took place on different proposals for amendments to the draft elaborated by the Sub-Commission, which was the basis for all discussions. A total number of 494 people attended the meetings of the Working Group, including representatives of 64 governments, five United Nations bodies and specialized agencies and 68 indigenous and non-governmental organizations. Among the subjects discussed were lands, territories and natural resources, and the right to self-determination.
The first addendum to the report (Add.1) contains a list of the documentation which was available at the session of the Working Group and the list of non-governmental organizations that participated in the meetings. The addendum also contains three communications from non-governmental organizations.
The second addendum (Add.2) contains proposals of the Chairperson-Rapporteur relating to the draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples as noted on the draft text.
There is the final report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reviewing activities within the United Nations system under the programme for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (E/CN.4/2005/87). The Coordinator of the Decade concludes by recognizing the progress made during the 10-year period and makes recommendations for priorities for the future. Among other things, she calls on the Commission to renew the mandate of the Working Group on a draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples for a further two years and asks it to agree on a reinvigorated work plan with targets for the adoption of articles.
There is a document consisting of the written submission by the World Health Organization (E/CN.4/2005/63) on its initiatives and activities related to the session of the Commission, including indigenous issues. It draws attention to the Global Strategy on the Health of Indigenous Peoples, with a focus on the needs in developing countries, which was presented to and adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2002.
There is also a document containing the written submission by the United Nations Development Programme (E/CN.4/2005/133). The documents highlights several projects organized by the Programme in the area of indigenous peoples on local and regional levels and its coordination with other United Nations bodies and other partners in that regard.
Presentation by Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People
RODOLFO STAVENHAGEN, Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, said that in addition to the main part of the report, which was devoted to the main obstacles and challenges facing indigenous peoples in the context of the right to education, he was also presenting the results of the visits he carried out to Colombia and Canada. A chapter was also devoted to follow-up activities to visits carried out until today. The report also contained the conclusions and recommendations of a seminar held out on the topic of education and indigenous peoples. For these peoples, education was essential in order to emerge from their situation and also to guarantee their rights.
Many indigenous peoples, especially the girl child, found it difficult to access education of a similar quality as that offered to non-indigenous peoples. What had led to the destruction of the communities of indigenous peoples was the implementation of educational policies ignoring their particularities, but this was becoming less the case, although the issue was not fully resolved. If this were not resolved, a new generation of indigenous peoples would continue to be marginalized. It was not only urgent to improve the education in quantitative terms, but also in qualitative terms, in particular regarding the intermediate level and upper education. Countries should pay attention to the needs of indigenous peoples, and equip organizations devoted to their needs with sufficient institutional needs.
In spite of institutional reforms that had been adopted, experts were confirming that there was still a gap between legislation and day-to-day realities. This topic would be focused on in the next report, with the aim of recommending specific measures to eliminate this gap. The Commission should pay particular attention to the challenges still existing that impeded the full implementation of instruments on indigenous peoples. The situation of those defending the rights of indigenous peoples was also significant, with more than 30 cases of extra-judicial killings, threats, torture and forced disappearance over the last year, and the situation deserved the attention of the Commission on a priority basis.
In Colombia, progress had been achieved on the constitutional and legislative fronts that put the country at the forefront of recognition of cultural diversity in the context of indigenous peoples, as well as a number of programmes responding to the requests of the indigenous peoples in the country. However, there were still problems, including the gap between the legislation and the reality, as indigenous rights had been undermined significantly by the armed conflict. Recommendations included the guaranteed provision of food and transport to those in indigenous areas and the establishment of peace zones for indigenous peoples under international supervision.
In Canada, the very complex situation of numerous aboriginal peoples had many different aspects. Quality of life and employment, among other things, were significantly lower for aboriginal Canadians, and issues such as imprisonment and suicide were significantly higher. A package aimed at improving their rights and situation was being implemented. The issue of land rights continued to be a crucial element of human rights that had not been fulfilled. The recommendation here was for the Government to fulfil both the letter and the spirit of agreements and close the gap between aborigines and Canadians in areas such as health, accommodation and social services.
Response from Concerned Countries
CLEMENCIA FORERO UCROS (Colombia), speaking as a concerned country, said she thanked the Special Rapporteur for visiting Colombia. The indigenous community of Colombia had been disturbed by the persistent terrorist actions of the armed group operating in the territory. The armed group had violated with impunity the Constitution and other legislation that provided for the human rights of the indigenous people. However, the Special Rapporteur had underlined the State's efforts in protecting indigenous people. The armed group had perpetuated a series of genocidal acts against the indigenous people. The armed group was responsible for the deteriorating situation through its illegal self-defence, which had severely affected the civil population, particularly the indigenous people, Afro Colombian and other ethnic groups. The social and economic aspect of those people had been affected. The State's security forces had taken measures to protect the people and to limit the activities of the guerrilla fighters.
The Government had applied a protection scheme in areas of indigenous peoples against attacks. Military decisions and training had been taken in collaboration with the indigenous peoples. A number of projects in social and health areas had been implemented in favour of the indigenous peoples. New areas had been opened in the school system for those peoples. Additional pilot projects for the well-being of the indigenous people had also been undertaken. The Government was working towards maintaining peace and security in all areas. The Colombian Government would continue, in a transparent manner, to guarantee the security of its people, particularly the indigenous citizens. The measures taken by the State were aimed at respecting the human rights of all people and maintaining public liberty. The United Nations system and the international community should support the Government of Colombia in its endeavours to strengthen and advance the cause of democracy and security in the country.
PAUL MEYER (Canada), speaking as a concerned country, said the areas highlighted in the report as presenting the greatest challenges for Canada today coincided largely with the areas chosen by the Government for increased action to close the unacceptable socio-economic gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. Just before the visit, the Prime Minister had initiated the Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable as the centerpiece of efforts to renew the relationship with the country's Aboriginal peoples. That roundtable had begun with an historic meeting in April 2004, at which the Prime Minister, other federal government leaders and Aboriginal leaders from across the country had been brought together. Subsequently, six sectoral sessions had been organized in the areas of health, life-long learning, housing, economic opportunities, negotiations, and accountability for results. The roundtable process would culminate with a meeting this fall between Aboriginal leaders, the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of the provinces and territories. The results of this collaborative process would mark a significant step forward in meeting many of the challenges highlighted by the Special Rapporteur.
As noted by the Special Rapporteur, the health of Canada's Aboriginal peoples remained a serious concern. For that reason, federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for Health and Aboriginal Affairs had met in September 2004 to develop, in partnership with Aboriginal leaders, an Aboriginal Health Blueprint. The Government had also announced a number of related initiatives, including making permanent and enhancing the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, and provision of substantial funding for an Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, both of which spoke directly to the Special Rapporteur's recommendations. The Government of Canada welcomed the report as a positive contribution to national efforts to improve the lives of all Aboriginal peoples in the country, and looked forward to a sustained dialogue with the Special Rapporteur.
SERGIO CERDA (Argentina) noted that the Special Rapporteur would focus on the implementation of instruments for the protection of the human rights of indigenous persons in his next report, and said this was indeed a priority matter. The Durban Declaration and Plan of Action should be included in that study, as many matters needed to be considered regarding follow up for the section covering indigenous peoples.
SIGURD VALVANTE (Norway) noted the Special Rapporteur's conclusion that assimiliationist models of education had posed the greatest obstacles to the realization of the right to education for indigenous peoples, and asked the Special Rapporteur what he saw as the most important aspects of efforts to overcome such obstacles. He also noted the special attention given to the issue of lack of equal access to education for girls, and asked what particular hindrances were facing girls, and what the Special Rapporteur saw that States should do to ensure girls' equal access to education.
ALPHONSE BERNS (Luxembourg) asked about the recommendation contained in the report as to the relationship between indigenous people and the environment, and the need to carry out scientific studies in which indigenous peoples took part. How did the Special Rapporteur intend to implement that recommendation? Also noting the importance of country visits, he asked where the Special Rapporteur planned to visit in the future?
JONNY SINAGA (Indonesia) noted the Special Rapporteur's recommendation that Governments should attach the highest priority to principles of indigenous education, and provide sufficient resources for it. However, he added, while it was easy to see that some countries had indigenous communities, in other countries it was not so easy. Noting that the ILO had tried to define the concept of indigenous peoples, he said it would be helpful if the Special Rapporteur provided a definition himself, which would help States to implement his recommendations.
LETICIA BAQUERIZO GUZMAN (Ecuador) said that, within the Special Rapporteur's study of the implementation of international instruments for human rights, he should look at the consequences and deleterious effects of external debt, specifically as it impacted on education, and bilingual education for indigenous peoples.
RODOLFO STAVENHAGEN, Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, responding to issues raised during the interactive dialogue, said the comments had been very positive and encouraging, especially those of Colombia and Canada who referred to his visits. The points made by these countries would be taken into account, and the clarification of some issues was appreciated. Of course, the Special Rapporteur would be available for any required follow-up.
A number of the delegates had referred to the central point of the report, regarding education and the rights of indigenous peoples. One of the problems faced by indigenous peoples specifically in this field referred to the traditional type of education which many States used. For many years, this had meant that there was a distinct assimilation to the dominant cultures. Faced with this approach to the system, many countries had built an alternative model, in cooperation with indigenous peoples, that could be called a bilingual inter-cultural education system which respected the cultural identity of indigenous peoples. This new model had a number of methodological and pedagogic complexities, which meant there was much need for support for indigenous peoples in order to deliver qualitatively different education. There was a need for training and appropriate materials. It was along these lines that a few recommendations were made to Governments and to the international community and international organizations in the report.
The encouraging comments made about the thematic emphasis programme for next year were also appreciated. His report would include the obstacles faced by indigenous peoples and States to truly implement already existing legislation. There was a gap between legislation and the actual realities on the ground.
Presentation by Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on a Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
LUIS ENRIQUE CHAVEZ, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on a draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noted that the Working Group had received a mandate to draft the draft declaration before the end of the first International Decade for Indigenous Peoples. In the time originally allotted, it had not been possible to complete that work. However, the Commission should know that, just because consensus had not been reached in the time allotted, it was not impossible to achieve consensus. First, progress had been made on the draft, and a considerable number of articles required no further negotiation. Second, consensus remained possible due to the fact that the rate of progress had increased substantially over the last few sessions of the Working Group. The Commission should be aware that, while drafting had begun four years ago, it was only in the last two years that effective confidence building had begun. That confidence building had created an appropriate framework to arrive at acceptable language on outstanding items.
Mr. Chavez said he had submitted a Chairman's proposal, circulated in the second addendum to his report. The Commission should compare the three texts at their disposal in order to get an accurate idea of what had been done, what remained to be done, and the path to follow to achieve consensus in the future. The Chairman's proposal was a comprehensive proposal, which used consensus language arrived at in the last few sessions. Where minor changes had been proposed, efforts had been made to negotiate the language. In light of these facts, it was up to the Commission to determine what was to become of the drafting process, but he believed firmly that it was possible to achieve consensus within a reasonable timeframe. He asked the Commission to extend the Working Group's mandate, so that it could finish its task of drafting a United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Presentation by Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on Indigenous People's Sovereignty over Natural Resources
ERICA-IRENE DAES, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights on indigenous people's sovereignty over natural resources, introducing her final report contained in document E/CN.4/Sub.2/2204/30 and Add.1, said her study was meant to contribute substantially and to be practically useful to States, in particular to their executive, judicial and administrative authorities, by facilitating the solution of a number of serious problems facing Governments and indigenous peoples and even to assist States and indigenous peoples to achieve a reconciliation. The report traced the history and highlighted the importance of the concept of "permanent sovereignty over natural resources within the United Nations system" and the nature and scope of the right of indigenous peoples to own, use, control and manage their lands, territories and resources. It also contained principal conclusions and basic recommendations.
The United Nations was the birthplace of the principle "permanent sovereignty over natural resources" and the main forum for its development and implementation. Indeed, it was General Assembly resolution 1803 (XVII) in 1962, which had given to that principle momentum under international law in the decolonizatoin process. In 1966, the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources had become a general principle of international law, when it was included in common article 1 of both International Covenants on human rights. The meaning of the term "sovereignty" in relation of the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources could be generally stated as legal control and management authority over natural resources, in the context of the exercise of the right to self-determination. Thus, it did not mean the supreme authority of an independent State. The use of the term in relation to indigenous peoples did not place them on the same level as States or place them in conflict with State sovereignty.
Presentation by Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations
JOSE CARLOS MORALES MORALES, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, said the mandate of the Voluntary Fund was to assist representatives of indigenous organizations and communities to participate in the deliberations of the Sub-Commission's Working Group on indigenous populations, the open-ended inter-sessional Working Group of the Commission on the Draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The Voluntary Fund represented a concrete expression of partnership with indigenous peoples, by involving them in the decision-making process through the Board of Trustees and empowering indigenous peoples. The Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations in particular had given indigenous peoples a voice at the United Nations by giving them the opportunity to participate in relevant meetings and to contribute to the deliberations with their first hand experience. This ensured that indigenous peoples were provided with the opportunity to raise their issues on the international arena, to network with other indigenous organizations and non-governmental organizations, and to relate with Governments and other United Nations bodies. This led inter alia to developing the leadership capabilities of indigenous peoples, and in some cases to solve issues directly with governmental delegations. Indigenous peoples were further involved in the development of international standards and national legislation for the promotion and protection of their human rights.
The Board of Trustees of the Fund therefore remained convinced of the fundamental importance of providing direct assistance to indigenous peoples to allow them to participate in United Nations meetings of vital importance to them; and of the fundamental importance of providing direct assistance to human rights projects by indigenous peoples. Governments and organizations were called upon to consider contributing to the Voluntary Fund. It was hoped that Governments would continue to support the process leading to the adoption of the draft United Nations Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples with the aim of finishing this important work in recognition of the human rights of indigenous peoples.
General Debate on Indigenous Issues
MIKE SMITH (Australia) said that indigenous disadvantage persisted despite more than a generation of unprecedented commitment to change. Moreover, some aspects of that disadvantage had been compounded by unintended side effects of past policies, namely passive welfare dependency. For that reason, the Government had recently overhauled and redesigned its policy and administrative arrangements in the field of indigenous affairs. The new framework was based on five core principles: collaboration and greater coordination between government agencies and different levels of government; a focus on regional and local needs to ensure that solutions were based on community priorities; shared responsibility for outcomes among governments and indigenous communities; flexibility and reduced red-tape to ensure that mainstream programmes and services were tailored to local needs; and improved accountability and a greater focus on outcomes. There had also been a fundamental reorganization of governmental administrative arrangements, such that the process was now driven and monitored by a task force of ten key federal Government ministers, led by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. That task force was advised by a newly-established council of indigenous persons, and supported by a coordinating committee of heads of federal government agencies, while services on the ground were coordinated through a new network of centers charged to give effect to the principles of shared responsibility and whole government decision-making.
That restructuring came on top of an approximately 39 per cent increase in Governmental spending on indigenous programmes over the past nine years, he stressed. The circumstances of indigenous people had not remained static; rather, there had been substantial improvements in key socio-economic indicators. For example, the proportion of Aboriginal children having completed high school had risen by one-third in the past decade. The rate of indigenous unemployment had dropped significantly, and the rate of home ownership had risen steadily. Furthermore, indigenous infant mortality had dropped by 25 per cent. While these indicators continued to lag behind the rest of the population, the gap had been narrowing steadily.
SIGURD VALVANTE (Norway), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues had proven its value as a coordinating and action-oriented organ consisting of an equal number of government experts and representatives of indigenous peoples serving on an equal footing. In addition, the existence of such a forum had made the United Nations and its Member States more aware of issues relating to indigenous peoples. Over the past four years, the Forum had played a unique interactive role in gathering the views of different parties and had successfully acted as a catalyst and adviser for the United Nations system as a whole. At the third session, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden were particularly pleased to note the high degree of interest shown by United Nations agencies and the World Bank. Within a short period of time, the Permanent Forum had established itself as the key forum and focal point for indigenous issues within the United Nations System. It was firmly believed that the Forum would continue to further enhance that role in the future, and Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden looked forward to its fourth session in May. Regrettably, indigenous peoples around the world remained among the most marginalized groups in their countries. Dispossession of their lands and resources remained a major source of indigenous peoples' impoverishment.
Education was fundamental and important for human rights, and it could help indigenous peoples to extricate themselves from marginalization. Education should not be used as a tool to weaken the attachment of indigenous peoples to their own traditions; it should strongly emphasize the importance and inherited knowledge of indigenous cultures. Education on indigenous issues should also be carried out among the general population. Imparting knowledge of the cultures of indigenous peoples was an important means of fostering a broader understanding of indigenous issues and would hopefully help to counter stereotypical images and prejudices of other groups.
LETICIA BAQUERIZO GUZMAN (Ecuador) said Ecuador favoured progress towards equality of all peoples without consideration of ethnic origin. Indigenous people represented about 39 per cent of the total population of Ecuador, grouped into 13 ethnicities. These people lived in a specific area, and had a specific political authority. The Constitution granted them their rights and named Ecuador as a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic State. Indigenous peoples were guaranteed participation in national life. There was a gradual increase of their political presence, and increased levels of participation. In order to guarantee human rights, Ecuador had guaranteed the full participation of representatives of indigenous movements without regard to gender. The indigenous movement was consolidated as a political presence.
Ecuador guaranteed the right to preserve ancestral lands, and property titles had been signed for indigenous groups. The right of indigenous peoples' authorities to carry out justice roles, as long as not contrary to law, was guaranteed. Collective rights were maintained, including spiritual, social, cultural, linguistic, medical and economic, and eco-systems were supported. Bilingual education, in order to strengthen development, was implemented and was led by professionals in indigenous communities with trained indigenous teachers. This had been successful, but due to the lack of coordinated bilingual teachers, it had not reached the level hoped for. The Government reiterated its full support for the work of the Working Group on the draft Declaration, and it was hoped a text would emerge soon.
LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA GONGORA (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), noted that the goal of the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples had been to improve the situation of indigenous peoples with regard to human rights, environment, development, education and health. Among the chief accomplishments of the first Decade, which had concluded in December 2004, figured the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the creation of the post of Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. Above all, the Working Group on indigenous peoples of the Sub-Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights had made specific advances. Now, the second Decade's goals had been set to improve the indigenous situation with respect to culture, education, health, respect for rights, environment and social and economic development through increased technical assistance, action-oriented projects, and standard setting activities.
Although responsibility for coordination of the second Decade would fall on the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should continue to strengthen actions and support the achievement of the Decade's goals, specifically for the full realization of indigenous peoples' economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights. The Office of the High Commissioner had administered a voluntary fund to assist indigenous peoples to carry out human rights projects during the first Decade, which had been very effective. The Office should maintain the capacity to support similar human rights projects, possibly through a special section of the United Nations' Voluntary Fund for indigenous peoples. Moreover, It was crucially important to consolidate the space for the Permanent Forum, and to widen its functions to contribute to respect for, and protection and promotion of indigenous peoples' human rights.
Regarding the drafting of a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he said it was crucial for all interested parties to heed the General Assembly's appeal for all interested parties to do everything in their power to successfully achieve the mandate of the Working Group to draft a Declaration. The Chairperson-Rapporteur should continue his task. All States should carry on the constructive dialogue on the important topics contained in the draft declaration, and a workshop should be organized during the present year to bring together Government and internationally-recognized experts, including the Special Rapporteur, to create a dialogue on important issues such as self-determination, land and territory, and collective rights.
ELIZABETH ASTETE RODRIGUEZ (Peru), endorsing the statement made by Mexico on behalf of GRULAC, said Peruvian society was basically multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. That reality had been interpreted as a sign of enrichment for Peru. Peruvians were conscious that the country's diversity was the principal pillar for a democratic and prosperous society. In that context, the indigenous people were the main beneficiaries. The Government of Peru continued to achieve important progress, at the international and national levels, in its efforts to promote development and equal opportunities of its indigenous peoples. Those actions were made within the context of respect for the ethnic and cultural identities, as well as the form of organizations of the indigenous peoples. The efforts had also contributed to the economic, social and cultural support of the country. At the international level, Peru expressed satisfaction at the recent declaration of the Second International Decade of Indigenous Peoples through resolution 59/174 of the General Assembly. It was hoped that the Second Decade would concretize the progress achieved during the previous Decade to the benefit of the indigenous peoples.
Peru had contributed in the work of the Working Group elaborating a draft declaration on the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. Peru was working on the text that aimed at recognizing the collective and individual rights of the indigenous peoples. She hoped that the Working Group would overcome its difficulties and would come out with a negotiated text. Her delegation appreciated the constructive efforts made in the Group with regard to the drafting of the declaration.
WAYNE LORD (Canada), said Canada remained committed to achieving consensus on a strong and effective Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This Declaration should be clear and transparent in terms of rights and obligations, supportive of building harmonious relations between indigenous peoples and the States in which they lived, and applied on a universal basis. Real and substantial progress had been made in the last two years, as reflected in the final reports of the last two sessions. It was both important and possible to reach the goal, therefore Canada supported authorising the Working Group to meet in 2005 so that it could successfully complete its work.
Reflecting on the progress made, proposals and language that had been put on the table by States and indigenous participants should be the starting point for discussions. The last meeting had been left off in the midst of a dynamic and creative process which had produced a number of strong proposals. Informal discussions on treaties saw significant progress, and progress was also made on the right to self-determination, the crucial theme of lands and resources, as well as a number of cross-cutting issues which underpinned the entire draft declaration. It was hoped that next year's session of the Commission would be able to celebrate the adoption of the draft Declaration.
MIGUEL ALFONSO MARTINEZ (Cuba) recalled that, in 1977, Geneva had become the focal point for efforts to raise international awareness about the plight of indigenous peoples, the isolation and alienation they faced, and the plundering of their wealth. Five years later, the first United Nations mechanism on indigenous issues had been established, the Sub-Commission's Working Group on indigenous peoples, and after ten years of dedicated work, the Working Group had concluded the most important United Nations initiative to remedy the situation of indigenous peoples, the United Nations draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The text had been presented to the Commission, and since 1995, had remained under the study of the Working Group established to conclude its final drafting. However, the most recent report of the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group had brought nothing but frustration. The past ten years had served only to harmonize the texts of two substantive articles out of the 45 included in the draft declaration. Diverse factors had affected this deplorable state of affairs, but overall it must be recognized that the Commission stood today at a real crossroads. The first Decade had closed without the conclusion of one of its most important objectives. Cuba would not oppose an initiative to postpone, for a short time, the mandate of the Working Group. It would be useful to cool the tensions that had emerged in the latest round of negotiations. The span of time should be used to explore new modalities before restarting the negotiation process.
Also of concern, he added, were the attempts being made to eliminate the question of human rights from indigenous affairs, and to put the various mechanisms established for indigenous issues, such as the Sub-Commission's Working Group, on the rack over their future. It was also of concern that the Permanent Forum had been established in New York, and that Geneva was gradually being deprived of its functions with regard to indigenous issues. Indigenous issues had been introduced in 1982 at the Sub-Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, and the United Nations should continue its work to define indigenous rights, to recognize those rights in national legislation, and to provide for their effective enjoyment through mechanisms established to ensure indigenous peoples' full and equal participation in conflict prevention and resolution.
SERGEY KONDRATIEV (Russian Federation) said the establishment of the Permanent Forum in Indigenous Issues by the United Nations had been a major contribution to the protection and promotion of the indigenous peoples. The Russian Federation had contributed to the creation of that Forum. At that international effort it had been found to be essential that the indigenous peoples themselves took party in the effort to protect and promote their rights. The participation of the peoples concerned was vital to the efforts of the international community and the United Nations. The question of indigenous issues was a major issue to the Russian Federation. In addition to its contribution at the international level to the effort in promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people, the Government of the Russian Federation had deployed a major effort to promote the rights of its indigenous peoples. With the aim of protecting the habitats and living areas of the indigenous peoples, the Government had taken a series of measures both legal and economic. Priority was given to the protection of the health of indigenous populations. A series of laws had been enacted to protect indigenous rights.
In the north of the Russian Federation, where a number of indigenous peoples lived, housing and other infrastructure had been ensured to enable them to live conveniently. Other measures had also been taken to improve their living conditions and to elevate their well-being. The Federal Government had also paid special attention to the education of the indigenous peoples. Education had been provided in the mother tongue of the indigenous people. The economic development in the autonomous regions, where the indigenous lived had been converted from subsistence to sustained development. The International Decade had given an impetus to the indigenous people of Russia. However the complex issue of indigenous rights would further be better clarified when the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples was adopted.
TOM KOENIGS (Germany) said the last decade was marked by a substantial increase in United Nations activities with regard to indigenous issues. Notable progress had been made in inter-agency cooperation in indigenous issues and numerous activities contained in the programme of activities for the first Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples had been implemented. The Commission had made important contributions to the continuing effort to ensure that indigenous people enjoyed all human rights. These contributions had been possible not least due to the active participation of indigenous people and their representatives.
This year's report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples focussd on a central issue for the realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for indigenous peoples: the right to education. The report highlighted problems of access and equity faced by indigenous peoples in education systems, the need for culturally appropriate education and the challenges arising in higher education. The realisation of the right to education was indispensable for the empowerment of indigenous peoples to shape their own future, to overcome marginalisation and discrimination and to ensure the enjoyment of all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
CHENG HONG (China) said indigenous peoples had made unique contributions to the social and cultural life of their homelands, yet they had become one of the most vulnerable groups in terms of political, economic, cultural and others perspectives. It was regrettable that the legitimate rights and interests of indigenous peoples had yet to be fully recognized and respected worldwide. The common responsibility of the international community was to meet fully the legitimate demands of the indigenous peoples to protect and promote their basic human rights and freedoms, and to ensure that the natural resources and environment on which they depended for their survival and traditional cultures was preserved.
The second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples had begun on 1 January 2005, she noted. The international community should conduct a review and appraisal of the first Decade, and activities should be carried out, after consultation with indigenous peoples, to make the second Decade even more fruitful and relevant. All parties should adopt a more flexible and constructive approach to the drafting of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although China had no indigenous population in its territory, the country actively supported the international community's work to protect and promote the human rights of indigenous peoples.
TANYA NORTON, of World Health Organization (WHO), said overt or implicit discrimination violated one of the fundamental principles of human rights and often was at the root of poor health status. Systematic and widespread discrimination over centuries had resulted in poor living conditions and poor health of indigenous peoples all over the world. Yet WHO noted with concern the dearth of reliable date and information on indigenous peoples' health, which impeded a broad national and global understanding of the range and extent of health issues affecting indigenous health everywhere. While much was known informally, scientifically accurate knowledge on indigenous health was incomplete and fragmented. That information gap obstructed regional and national efforts to proceed with the establishment of work plans on indigenous peoples' health.
Indigenous and tribal peoples in a wide of developing countries suffered disproportionately from malaria, tuberculosis, respiratory and diarrhoeal disease, as well as from nutritional deficiencies. Indigenous peoples in certain countries had higher infant mortality rates than other groups.
TIM CAUGHLEY (New Zealand) said it had long supported an elaboration of the rights of indigenous peoples, and was frustrated at the slow pace of the deliberations on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, although no blame should be attributed. The draft Declaration required international endorsement, and for this it required certain amendments. It was to break the impasse that New Zealand had tabled an amendment last December with the aim of protecting individual, collective and third-party rights, and protecting the territorial integrity of States, and their duty to ensure all their citizens their rights. Unfortunately, progress had not been sustained. New Zealand was willing to continue to engage actively and constructively on the negotiations, but if these were to be successful, work had to be done on all sides.
The involvement of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues would be critical to ensuring positive outcomes for the Second Decade on Indigenous Peoples. New Zealand looked forward to this going from strength to strength in the future.
FRANCESCA THORNBERRY, of International Labour Organization, said the ILO had been carefully following the discussions on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and hoped they would soon be completed. However, it appeared that proposals to amend the Declaration would fall below existing legally-binding international standards for the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples, including ILO Convention No. 169. The Declaration should take existing minimum standards of international law into account; as an aspirational standard, and as a matter of international law, it should express goals higher than existing standards, and should not modify existing standards. Falling below those standards would create confusion and damaging uncertainty.
The ILO also wished to highlight the importance of taking into account issues pertaining to indigenous and tribal peoples in several current international processes, including the forthcoming review by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, of the Poverty Reduction Strategy approach, and the high-level event for the five-year review of the Millennium Summit. Recent experience showed that not taking into account the human rights situation and cultural specificities of indigenous and tribal peoples in national development and poverty reduction strategies led more often to negative, rather than positive, impacts. Specific account should be taken of the social, cultural, economic and political marginalization of indigenous and tribal peoples, so as not to exacerbate that marginalization.
INGEBORG BREINES, of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said UNESCO had actively sought to articulate and implement an integrated vision to the aspirations and needs of indigenous peoples. Drawing on its multi-sectoral mandate and its interdisciplinary expertise, which included education, culture, the natural and social sciences, and communications, UNESCO was committed to promoting the full participation of minorities and marginalized and vulnerable groups in designing, implementing and monitoring policies and actions which directly affected them. UNESCO took an active part in indigenous education through the preparation of publications, information material, support to regional conferences and the organization of expert group meetings and seminars.
In the field of culture, the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage aimed at protection practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities and groups recognized as part of their cultural heritage.
RAQUEL POITEVIEN CABRAL (Venezuela) said Venezuela would continue with efforts leading to the adoption of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and hoped there would be progress in the discussion that would be substantive and eventually lead to adoption of the Declaration. Because of the disagreements, it was difficult for the Working Group to accomplish all that was set before it, but progress had been achieved and was the basis for work established for an encouraging new future. It had been possible to gain consensus in some critical areas, and this was important for future work. There was commitment for a universal declaration containing references to traditional ancestral lands, which were important for the survival of the indigenous peoples and their lives and cultures.
Based on tolerance and a multi-ethnic society, Venezuela recognised the existence of collective specific rights of indigenous peoples, who were a part of the State and Republic. A process of mutual enrichment had been taking place, with legislative changes in Venezuela, and progress made on a National Council on indigenous language and culture. Work had also been carried out on translating the Constitution into indigenous languages.
MILILANI TRASK, of Indigenous World Association, speaking in a joint statement with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Rural Development Foundation of Pakistan, making a joint statement, said her delegation was formally withdrawing its support for the petition calling for suspension of the Working Group on the drafting of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, submitted by the International Indian Treaty Council two weeks ago. It was now evident that the vast majority of indigenous peoples and nations did want to continue the work of the Working Group, but felt deep concern over the lack of progress achieved. The Group's inability to achieve consensus on 43 of 45 articles was due to the lack of a framework to guide its deliberations. Expressing support for the draft resolution, submitted by Canada, on the future of the Working Group, she stressed that several critical omissions must be addressed. The indigenous caucus had reached consensus on three new operational paragraphs, which were being submitted for inclusion in the Canadian draft.
CRAIG BENJAMIN, of Amnesty International, speaking in a joint statement with Friends World Committee for Consultation - QUAKERS; International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development - Rights and Democracy, shared concern for the timely adoption of strong and effective international standards to respect, protect and promote the human rights of indigenous peoples. In every region of the world, indigenous peoples were subjected to pervasive human rights violations that threatened their security and well-being. Those violations also jeopardized the very survival of indigenous cultures and nations. The pervasiveness of such violations was an affront to the global human rights system and to its underlying principles of human dignity, equality and non-discrimination. During the last 10 years that the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had been under debate in the Working Group, there had been considerable progress towards recognition and protection of the human rights of the indigenous peoples within the international human rights system.
LAZARO PARY, of World Peace Council, speaking in a joint statement with Movimiento Cubano por la paz y la Soberanía de los Pueblos, said the work on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the elaboration of which began more than 20 years ago, was today being treated in a discriminatory way within the Commission itself. After 20 years, the Working Group had failed, due to a lack of political will on the part of Member States. No tangible progress had been achieved, nor was the Working Group getting closer to any substantive progress, as the process was frozen. The tenth session had turned into a diplomatic and political imbroglio, showing the difference in attitudes between the North and the South. States behaved like cold beings, ignoring indigenous peoples and denying them their rights to self-determination and to land. Indigenous peoples, with or without the Declaration, would continue to fight for their rights, and had prepared their own Declaration. Governments were watering down the concept of collective rights among others every year. The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and Belgium were those countries directly responsible for the failure of the Declaration, and indigenous peoples felt humiliated by this. The Commission should take concrete steps to elaborate instruments and norms.
ISABELLE HEYER, of International Commission of Jurists, speaking in a joint statement with Andean Commission of Jurists, delivering a joint statement with the Andean Commission of Jurists, said there were more than 20 million persons of indigenous descent in the countries of the Andean region. The constitutional platform for recognition of indigenous rights was underpinned by the ratification of ILO Convention No. 169 by the countries of the region; Chile was the only country that had not ratified that instrument, and which did not have protection for indigenous rights at the national level. However, the indigenous peoples in these countries continued to suffer discrimination, at the collective level as well as the individual. The right of indigenous peoples to participate, and to be consulted each time legislative measures that might affect them were planned, was vitally important to their development. Their right to decide for themselves on issues related to natural resources, especially ancestral lands, must be recognized as essential to the preservation of their cultures. The Commission should encourage Chile to ratify ILO Convention No. 169, in compliance with its obligations under the verdict of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and should encourage Bolivia to ensure the right of indigenous peoples to participate in the future Constitutive Assembly for the Constitution.
KOK KSOR, of Transnational Radical Party, said in the year 2005, Montagnard refugees continued to be hunted down by Vietnamese police who paid bounties to Cambodian police for arresting them. Upon their return to Viet Nam many refugees were subjected to harsh reprisals, torture and imprisonment. On 25 January 2005, the Governments of Cambodia and Viet Nam and UNHCR had signed a memorandum of understanding regarding over 700 Montagnard asylum seekers currently in Cambodia. Their fate remained in question and representatives of more than 300 refugees in Phnom Penh had asked the group to deliver this appeal to the United Nations. The current memorandum was flawed and dangerous because it did not contain any explicit guarantees that Montagnard refugees who were returned to Viet Nam would be effectively protected by UNHCR.
PIERRE MIOT, of International Federation of Rural Adult Catholic Movements, said the Working Group had focused its debate on conflict resolution over the last meeting, attempting to identify prevention methods for conflicts. The conflicts between indigenous peoples and non-indigenous peoples stemmed from their divergence in opinions regarding lands which should be occupied by indigenous peoples. Conflict resolution was necessary when indigenous peoples were confronted with major development issues, such as in Guatemala where mining licenses had been granted in traditional Maya territory, without the indigenous peoples concerned being consulted. The free-trade agreement of the Americas undermined the existence of indigenous peoples as it ignored their traditional knowledge and did not respect their environment. The Commission should pay attention to indigenous rights and work to guarantee them further. The rapid adoption of the Draft Declaration was looked forward to, as the indigenous peoples of the world had a right to expect more from the Commission.
ANDRES SANCHEZ THORIN, of Colombian Commission of Jurists, said one of the most important mechanisms established during the first International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples had been that of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. During his country visits, the Special Rapporteur had emphasized the vulnerability of indigenous peoples, especially with regard to land, territory, health, natural resources, justice, sustainable development, language, culture and education, self-government, autonomy, political participation and self-determination. He had also cited the lack of implementation of international norms on issues related to the fight against discrimination, including death threats, forced disappearances of indigenous activists, excessive force by agents of public order, and extrajudicial executions. In his report on his visit to Colombia, he had recognized the gravity of the situation of indigenous peoples in the country, as a great number of indigenous peoples faced conditions of persistent violence due to the armed conflict, and had recommended that special urgency be given to the elaboration of an emergency assistance plan for indigenous communities in danger of extinction throughout the Amazon region.
JAIME VALDES AGUAYO, of American Association of Jurists, said during the first International Decade for Indigenous Peoples, little progress had been made in the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples. The concepts of self-determination, peoples, democracy, government, development and security had not been elucidated. The Association supported the work of the Working Group on the drafting of a Declaration with regard to protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. However, States had not adopted the draft Declaration because of a lack of will. It was regretted that Chile continued to violate the human rights of its indigenous peoples, particularly those of the Mapuche people. The Mapuche had been resisting the violations of their rights by carrying out hunger strikes in order to be heard. The Special Rapporteur on indigenous issues should make a second visit to Chile to further investigate the situation there.
LAYLA G. AL-ROOMI, of Jubilee Campaign, said Iraq's numerous religious minority groups were suffering horrific persecution at the hands of fundamental insurgent terrorist groups and the religious clerics who had condoned their actions. The country was undergoing significant historical changes as it began to enjoy the new fruits of democracy, but these fruits had not come without struggle and tragedy for the Mandaeans, for whom Iraq's transition to democracy had given rise to hundreds of attacks and grave human rights abuses by resisting insurgents and radical Islamic clerics. They had also been deprived of the right to due process guaranteed by domestic and international instruments. The Commission should urge the new Iraqi Government to stop the insurgents and sympathising religious clerics from continuing the systematic attack on the foundations of democracy.
HAYIN-RAY ANTILEO NAVARRETE NEAU, of International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic & Other Minorities, said the Special Rapporteur had conveyed in his report the lamentable situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples in Chile in November 2003. To this day, none of the recommendations had been implemented, and the situation of indigenous peoples had even deteriorated, especially with regard to justice. The Chilean Government had used the anti-terrorist law, dating from the Pinochet administration, to criminalize the demands of the Mapuche people. The Mapuche were judged in an expedited manner, and their human rights were systematically violated. Anonymous, masked witnesses had testified against them, and, notoriously, there had been lack of proof of the allegations. The Supreme Court overturned all judgments in favour of the Mapuche, and new trials at which they would be convicted were organized. The Government had privileged multilateral investment over respect for the rights of the Mapuche people. They lived on 700,000 hectares of their land, while multinational foresting companies would control 5 million hectares by 2010. The Government must discontinue using the anti-terrorist law against the Mapuche, and must return their land to the people. There should also be a dialogue between the Government and all Mapuche organizations.
LITON BOM, of Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), said when the tenth session of the Working Group on the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ended in December last year, it was the view of most indigenous representatives and governments that the mandate of the Working Group had to be extended until a strong Declaration on the rights of the indigenous peoples was adopted by the United Nations. The primary aim of the participants in the Commission session was to ensure that a resolution on that extension would be passed. The Foundation believed that in the past ten years, which had coincided with the indigenous peoples' decade, the fact that only two articles were provisionally adopted, was not an indication of the lack of progress. There had been substantial progress.