Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maori Leader Addresses Global Forum for Bioethics in Research

Sharples: Global Forum for Bioethics in Research

Thursday, 4 December 2008, 9:17 am
Speech: The Maori Party

Ninth Global Forum for Bioethics in Research
Orakei Marae; Auckland;
Wednesday 3 December 2008; 7pm
Hon Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

[NRN Editor's Note: Following is the text of the speech Dr. Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party gave on December 3, 2008 to the Ninth Global Forum for Bioethics in Research held in Auckland, New Zealand.]

This is a fantastic time to be holding this ninth global forum on bioethics in research.

The last three months, in particular, have been unprecedented in terms of the acts of resistance and celebration initiated by indigenous peoples and members of vulnerable populations.

On 23 September in New York, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales called a press conference at the United Nations, telling the General Assembly it was meeting at a time of rebellion against poverty, misery and the effects of climate change and privatization policies throughout the world.

He spoke about the uprisings of indigenous peoples and farmers questioning the effects of economic systems such as those of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - and he went further and suggested it was those privatization policies that had caused the current financial crisis.

Just over a week later, this time in Geneva, a statement from the Aotearoa Indigenous Rights Trust; the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest and Te Runanga o Nga Kaimahi Maori o Aotearoa Te Kauae Kaimahi was presented, calling for a transparent process to support the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The collective intervention, called for guidelines to be created about how research would be carried out, to ensure a legitimate body for indigenous people was built, and its research reports acted upon by the United Nations and States.

The third turning point came just over a month later, at a time when Kenya declared a national day of celebration; a public holiday to celebrate the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency.

And Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, sent a letter of congratulations, stating:

"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place”.
Finally, here in Aotearoa, the Māori Party, the independent voice of Māori in Parliament, succeeded in bringing a fifth MP into the Beehive after our recent election; and just a fortnight ago, signed a relationship agreement with the National Party, which symbolized our willingness to be part of Government, in our efforts to do all that we can to uphold the aspirations of our people.

These acts of resistance, these opportunities for celebration, create a brilliant foundation in which to discuss respectful research.

They represent uprisings of indigeneity; of the first nations people across the world daring to dream we can change the world for a better place. And here we are tonight, daring to dream that the research world will continue to inspire us to do so.

The developments that have occurred over these last months on the global stage provide a rich environment to discuss the next stages of our development - the ways in which our traditional beliefs and values, our cultural norms - are upheld in ethical research.

But there is one more context that I want to draw to your attention, in my capacity as the Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau.
And I turn to mihi to the mana whenua of this land, Ngāti Whatua o Orakei.

Half a century ago, the hapū lived peacefully on their papakainga land in Okahu Bay, in the haven of their whare tūpuna - Te Puru o Tamaki. That was, until the Government of the day decided to evict the people from their homes, burn their marae, homes and buildings to the ground, and relocate the people to an allotment of state houses. They were left virtually landless.
In 1976, the Crown moved to make its final nail in the coffin, to dispose of the last sixty acres of uncommitted land at Orakei. And then came the uprising. For 506 days, Ngāti Whatua, under the leadership of Joe Hawke, occupied the point, Takaparawhau - or Bastion Point.

On 25 May 1978, the largest mobilization of Police and army forces in New Zealand’s history was directed to Bastion Point, to evict the people for trespassing on their own land. 222 people were arrested, the photographs and memories of that time still linger on as we recall the kuia and kaumatua, the elderly of the tribe, dragged off their land, crying and digging their heels in with all their force.

In time, Ngāti Whatua took a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, standing up for the return of the 700 acre Orakei Block. In 1991, the Orakei Act was passed, returning the marae, the papakinga lands, the church and the urupa to Ngāti Whatua o Orakei - but also importantly, the Government put on record, it had failed to keep its part of the Treaty of Waitangi, the promise to protect the rights and property of the indigenous peoples.

This year, we marked thirty years since that police raids on Orakei, and we celebrated the resistance of Ngāti Whatua in protecting and preserving their land, their language, their customs, their cultural heritage.

It is not my place to tell the stories of Ngāti Whatua - but there will be many others here who can take you on that journey back through time, and I would encourage you to take that time to also share your stories, the stories from Africa, Asia, Canada, America, Australia, Europe and the Pacific.

Our histories, our stories, our aspirations, our troubles are unique to us as indigenous peoples and members of vulnerable populations.
My hope for this conference is that we leave no-one in any doubt, that the context for any research involving us, must be set by us.

I read a statement the other day from Luther Standing Bear, Chief of the Oglala Sioux. He said, and I quote:

“Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame”.
Never again will we return to the days when the people of the land are suppressed; their stories obliterated; their cultures denigrated.

Never again, will we permit anyone to call us savage; not one more acre will be stolen from us; we will not be defined as ‘other’; marginalized as minorities; alienated from our territories.

We have come too far, and we are not going back.

We must have courage, and not fear the backlash from standing out in the crowd, from speaking out.

This is where forums like this are so vital, to keep our spirits high, to uplift us, to inspire us, to consolidate in solidarity.

bell hooks reminds us it will not be easy. She said:

“the space of radical openness is a margin - a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a safe place. One is always at risk. One needs a community of resistance”

This forum is a mark in the sand, a profound edge - to encourage the world research communities, to develop practical measures to promote research which is more ethical.

We need to have the strategic strength to face the risks, to move forward.
Just as Evo Morales acted on the calling of his people to issue his challenge in New York, we must all be bold enough to act with integrity in setting and upholding policy on research ethics.

Just as Ngāti Whatua o Orakei prepared and researched claims and invested in the legislative process; research practitioners and professionals must uphold and adhere to guidelines involving consent, access and participation for indigenous and vulnerable groups.

Having strategic strength is knowing what procedures and protocols we can call on, to provide guidance on the involvement of indigenous peoples in research, intellectual property and traditional knowledge.

74 years ago, Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck) wrote to Sir Apirana Ngata, saying

“I have come to the conclusion that the Pākehā attitude towards native races is on the whole saturated with the deepest hypocrisy…..even in ethnology, I doubt whether a native people is really regarded as other than a project to give the white writer a job and a chance for fame”. [Sorrenson Vol 3, 1982:126]

This is no doubt a reoccurring theme in the tribal narratives across the globe, that many indigenous peoples would share in common.

But what we know now, is that we are at a turning point where the nature of knowledge and knowing is in our hands. We must invest in strategies which affirm our own whānau, hapū and iwi self-determination; our rangatiratanga.

We must be vigilant to ensure that the theories, methods and research tools are those that extend indigenous knowledge, that serve the interests of the people being researched.

We must draw on our creativity as the means of building resilience within our whānau. We must embrace our indigenous resources - our songs, our poetry, our arts and crafts, our tribal histories, our archives - as a way of distinguishing our research as our own.

And we must insist that the highest form of knowledge and knowing is ultimately used to liberate ourselves, to set ourselves free.



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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

First Nations Chiefs to Seek Help from Obama on Canadian Oil Exploitation

Canadian Indigenous Community to Deliver Message of Oil and Human Rights to President-Elect Obama

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/

In the tradition of delegations of American Indians traveling in the late 1800s to Washington, DC to meet the "Great White Father," Chiefs from Canada's First Nations will be traveling to the U.S. capital to seek the support of President Elect Obama in their fight for Human Rights. A First Nations delegation of Chiefs from across Canada will be in Washington D.C. on January 8th 2009, 12 days before the Inauguration of President-Elect Obama.

Chiefs from the seven First Nations of Treaty One announced a decision to assemble the delegation of Chiefs to deliver a message of oil and human rights to President-Elect Obama. Chief Glenn Hudson of Peguis First Nation, a spokesman for Treaty One stated "We are hopeful that President-Elect Obama will embrace the attitude of respect, compassion and support by engaging in the accountability of equitable and fair trade between the United States, the Indian Nations and the Canadian Government."

During the election campaign President-Elect Barack Obama talked of his concerns with "dirty oil" from Canada and made a lot of positive statements on a new relationship with Native Americans. "Canada is the largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States," added Chief Hudson. "America needs to purchase 14 million barrels of foreign oil every day, and maintaining a steady supply of oil is a national security issue for the U.S. So far, Canada pays little or no royalties to indigenous people for resources."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, over eighty percent of all Canadian exports flow to the U.S. Canada remained the largest exporter to the U.S. of total petroleum in September, exporting 2.364 million barrels per day. The second largest petroleum exporter to the U.S. was Saudi Arabia with 1.431 million barrels per day.

Two major pipelines, the Enbridge Alberta Clipper and the TransCanada Keystone Project, being constructed through three provinces will, by 2012, carry an additional 1.9 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S. The two pipelines are of grave importance to American energy needs given the increasing instability of other foreign sources of oil. Canada supplies the United States with 65% more oil per day than Saudi Arabia, yet the stability of oil supply from Canada has never been of concern to Americans.

In September, two blockades by First Nations in the Province of Saskatchewan sent shockwaves through the industry as construction was halted for four and six days at two sites. Chief Barry Kennedy of Carry the Kettle First Nation (Treaty Four) and Chief Sheldon Wuttunee of Red Pheasant First Nation (Treaty Six) in Saskatchewan organized the blockades. The First Nations are currently in negotiations with the pipelines.

Treaty One will send invitations to Chiefs from all three prairie provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Invitations will also go to British Columbia where First Nations are fighting the proposed Gateway Pipeline. Gateway will pipe oil to the Pacific to be sent on Ocean Tankers to China and western United States. On the American side, invitations to speak in Washington will go to four tribes from North and South Dakota. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, the Rosebud Sioux, Santee Sioux and Yankton Sioux Tribes recently launched a U.S. lawsuit to stop the TransCanada pipeline.

The First Nations delegation of Chiefs seeks President-Elect Obama to apply international pressure on Canada - the largest supplier of crude oil to the U.S. - to share resource wealth with the indigenous people of Canada, the original and rightful owners of the resources. An emergency resolution at the national Assembly of First Nations in the December 2008 Summit in Ottawa will debate the proposed Declaration on Oil. The AFN is the national political representative of 633 First Nations in Canada.

While the United States recognizes property in its Bill of Rights and recognizes Treaties as the "law of the land" in its constitution, Canada omits the Right to Property in its Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The United States and Canada both voted against the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights, an issue that will surely confront the newly elected President of the United States.

About Treaty One First Nations in Manitoba.

Treaty One territory is 16,700 square miles, (10 million acres) directly in the path of both Enbridge and TransCanada pipelines. The pipelines are currently being constructed through Treaty One territory without any prior approval by the indigenous people.

SOURCE Desert Runner LLC

Copyright © 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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Australia Intends to Sign UN Indigenous Rights Declaration

Govt still intends to sign indigenous rights declaration
9th December 2008, 15:30 WST

The federal government has indicated it still intends to endorse a United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous people, after failing to fulfil the election promise in its first year.

Australia was one of just four countries to vote against the non-binding UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when the General Assembly adopted it in September 2007.

The Howard government refused to support the declaration, which sets out the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people, claiming it would elevate customary law above national law.

At the time, Labor said it would endorse the declaration, but has failed to do so in its first 12 months in office.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland on Tuesday said the government still supported the underlying principles of the declaration.

“We are consulting with indigenous organisations and other key stakeholders on an appropriate statement to reflect this,” Mr McClelland said in the inaugural Evatt Annual Lecture in Sydney.

“Without a doubt, the biggest and most pressing human rights challenge we face is the past failures in the treatment of indigenous Australians.”


‘The West Australian’ is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2008. All Rights Reserved

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Catholic Bishops Call on New Zealand Govt to Sign UN DRIP

Bishops calls on Govt to sign human rights declaration
NZPA Monday December 8 2008 - 04:48pm

Catholic bishops have called on the Government to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September last year.

While 143 nations voted in favour of the declaration, New Zealand remained one of only three continuing to oppose it, along with the United States and Canada.

Australia voted against the original resolution, but has since indicated its support.

The New Zealand Catholic bishops conference said New Zealand must "better recognise and respect the human rights of the 370 million members of the human family who are indigenous peoples.

"These first inhabitants of nations have been subject to centuries of dispossession and violence....Our own nation of Aotearoa New Zealand of course shares that history and we must be part of the work of reconciliation and restoration."

The bishops said the declaration applied universally recognised human rights to the particular situations of indigenous peoples.
"By opposing it, New Zealand representatives allowed domestic politics to override our country's usually principled stand on human rights issues," they said.

"We call on the Government to enhance our country's proud record of leadership in human rights by supporting the declaration," they said, noting Wednesday was Human Rights Day.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Black Mesa Nightmare Returns

Why Raul Grijalva matters at Interior
The Black Mesa nightmare returns
Posted by Jeff Biggers (Guest Contributor) at 10:42 PM on 07 Dec 2008

For the sake of a deliberate and balanced approached to mining, indigenous rights, and environmental concerns, let's hope U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva takes the reins at the Department of the Interior in Obama's administration.

Take this week's startling announcement that the George W. Bush administration might quietly give the green light to reopening the scandalous Black Mesa Strip Mine on the ancestral lands of the Dine (Navajo) and Hopi.

Within a few days, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining will release a "Record of Decision" on the "Black Mesa Project" Final Environmental Impact Statement, which could ultimately grant the Peabody Coal Company a "Life-of-Mine" permit to re-open and expand one of the nation's largest coal strip mines.

Like a voice in the wilderness, Grijalva recently wrote the current Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne to request a suspension in the OSM's "hurriedly conducting a deeply flawed environmental review."

Despite a Hopi tribal government in disarray and a deeply divided Dine-Navajo community, the George W. Bush administration's 11th hour move to unleash Big Coal in the tribal lands will not only jeopardize the Navajo Aquifer -- the main source of drinking water for the area residents and farmers -- but will re-open one of the bitter wounds in contemporary tribal conflict.

Like mountaintop removal in Appalachia, the decades-long battle over Black Mesa and the ensuing Hopi-Navajo Settlement sybolizes shameless disregard of human rights and environmental protection for the sake of extraction industry profits.

It's an old story, of course, dating back to the discovery of one of the largest coal deposits in the country on Black Mesa over a century ago.

Over a decade ago, documents emerged that proved that the main lawyer hired to represent the divided Hopi was also on the payroll of the Peabody Coal Company and might have actually helped gerrymander the massive land deal and subsequent settlement acts. This not only resulted in unfair royalty payments and virtually no environmental safeguards, but bitterly divided tribal interests and relations.

In the process, one report estimated that over 12,000 natives were forced to relocate while one of the largest strip mines in the nation swept across the northern Arizona desert.

As investigative reporter Judith Nies wrote:

In Los Angeles, air conditioners hummed. Las Vegas embarked on an enormous building spree to make gambling a family vacation. Phoenix and Tucson metastasized out into the desert-building golf courses and vast retirement developments with swimming pools and fountains. Few realize that much of the energy that makes the desert "bloom" comes from the Black Mesa strip mines on an Indian reservation. Even fewer know the true costs of such development.

And water, in this upland desert, was pumped away. As part of a 273-mile slurry line, billions of gallons of water were siphoned from the Navajo aquifer for decades. Not only the main water source for the native farmers and ranchers in the area, this caused wells and springs to dry up, groundwater levels to plummet and native vegetation to vanish.

According to native Black Mesa advocates today, the rammed through OSM report has numerous flaws, legal or otherwise:

• The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) does not address the pumping of the Navajo Aquifer for the last thirty years. These amounts exceed the aquifer's ability to replace water annually, and have adversely impacted the natural springs and seeps all over Black Mesa. Springs no longer can produce the water needed for Navajo families to survive daily. Instead families must abandon local water resources and use community wells 20-30 miles over unimproved roads. Peabody has not included in its application the impact on the people of Black Mesa and how long they can expect to survive with continued use and contamination of the only source of drinking water the people have. Nor are measures in place to insure an alternate source of water in quality and quantity for local residents will be delivered if there is irreversible damage to the N-Aquifer;

• local Black Mesa residents have been inadequately informed of the proposed changes; • due to changes in the original alternatives, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is outdated and has irrelevant information; • the DEIS mentions lung problems and only proposes mitigation for mine workers, not residents. The EIS must look at mitigation measures for local residents to avoid health problems associated with black lung, asthma and other lung ailments;

• the DEIS does not consider how the OSM will comply with the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and prevent substantial burden on the tribes' ability to practice their religion; • the DEIS does not compare the economics of additional coal mining vs. transitional renewable energy development on the mine site and reclaimed areas to prevent long-term cumulative impacts by additional coal mining; • the DEIS does not recognize the impact of the potential relocation of native families;

• the DEIS does not address the current U.S. federal laws that make CO2 a pollutant, and uncalculated CO2 emissions that will contribute to global warming until 2026, if more mining by Peabody coal company continues.
Last month, Rep. Grijalva asked for delay until the OSM "can determine the actual purpose and need of this project."

Let's hope the OSM heeds his sound advice.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Video: Wilma Mankiller on the Challenges Facing Indigenous People

Blogspot: Friends of Leonard Peltier
Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wilma Mankiller: Challenges Facing Indigenous People

On October 2, 2008, Former Chief of the Cherokee Nation and Indigenous rights activist, Wilma Mankiller, was in Phoenix, AZ, to give a presentation on the “Challenges Facing 21st Century Indigenous People.”

A part of the Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture series on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community, Mankiller, talked about the diversity and uniqueness of the world’s indigenous population, as well as the common, shared sense of duty to conserve and protect the natural world.

It’s a duty that we all share, not just indigenous people, states Mankiller. It’s just that many people have forgotten that duty because their culture holds no memory of their origins or of their place in the natural world.

Discussing several other issues, Mankiller also talked briefly about the common struggle of indigenous people. This shared experience, while indicating a point of unity, also shows a need for something ‘more’ than confrontation and a verbal demand that governments and corporations respect indigenous rights.

Mankiller points to that void of knowledge, and the need to show the world who we really are. Today, as i the distant past, indigenous people are often identified with “…nonsensical stereotypes [that] either vilify indigenous people as troubled descendants of savage[s]… or romanticize them as innocent children of nature - spiritual, but incapable of higher thought,” said Mankiller. Shifting this opinion to reflect our true identity — that we are not more or less, but different — will go further toward bringing the changes we need.

Another challenge Mankiller discusses, perhaps the greatest of all, is our need “to develop practical models to capture, maintain, and pass on traditional knowledge systems and values to future generations.”

If we cannot do this, then we too will one day forget.

Mankiller’s presentation, follows some opening remarks by Frank Goodyear and Wayne Mitchell, and an introduction by Dr. Simon Ortiz.

Wilma Mankiller: Challenges Facing 21st Century Indigenous People from ASU Libraries on Vimeo.


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Indigenous Peoples Ignored at Global Climate Talks

ENVIRONMENT: Native Peoples Out in Cold at Warming Meet
By Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 3 (IPS) - Global efforts to combat climate change will lead nowhere as long as the indigenous peoples' representatives have no say in discussions to lay out future plans, say activists who are attending the international conference on climate change being held in the Polish city of Poznan this week.

"Indigenous peoples have for centuries adapted to changing environments and would be able to contribute substantially to adaptation strategies the U.N. is trying to include in a new climate change treaty," said Mark Lattimer of the London-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG).

Ahead of the conference on climate change, which started Monday, MRG researchers released a new study concluding that a new climate change deal would be "seriously compromised" if governments continued to shut out the voices of those most affected by global warming.

According to the U.N., about 8,000 delegates from around the world are participating in the Poznan conference, which will last until Dec. 12. The meeting is likely to decide what more could be done to fight climate change and how to fund it. Last week, officials at the U.N. described the meeting as "a milestone on the road to success", for the negotiation process launched at the past conferences.

"The U.N. process is flawed as communities that have first-hand experience of dealing with climate change are not allowed to participate," said Lattimer. "It is incomprehensible how governments agree targets without the input of those who face the impacts of climate change."

But indigenous rights activists seem highly sceptical about such claims. "The U.N. process is flawed as communities that have first-hand experience of dealing with climate change are not allowed to participate," said Lattimer. "It is incomprehensible how governments agree targets without the input of those who face the impacts of climate change."

The Poznan conference is expected to set targets on carbon emissions from deforestation, but leaders of the indigenous communities that live in the forests complain they are not being genuinely consulted in discussions on future plans and strategies.

"We are suffering the worst impacts of climate change without having contributed to its creation," Ben Powless, an indigenous rights activist from Canada, told IPS in an email from Poland, where he is watching the proceeding from the sidelines of the conference.

In his view, the official strategies and schemes for mitigation are nothing but "false solutions to the problem".

"They threaten our rights and our very existence," he said, noting that numerous mitigation and land conversion projects for agro-fuel implemented by governments and the private sector are carried out "without the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples."

Activists like Lattimer and Powless note that most development projects in the forests are actually aimed at stealing the resources of indigenous peoples for commercial gains rather than helping them sustain their resources and environmental preservation. In recent years, numerous studies have shown that most of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples live in ecologically diverse areas and that they rely heavily on natural resources.

But due to climate change, they are losing their sources of livelihood. "There has been a lot of attention paid to the damage climate change is doing to the environment and the loss of certain plant or animal species, but we aren't sufficiently recognising the impact on people," said Farah Mihlar, who wrote the MRG report.

The indigenous representatives say the so-called "'scientific' mitigation and adaptation solutions, methodologies and technologies being discussed by the policymakers do not reflect their vision and ancestral knowledge."

"[They] violate or threaten our human rights," said Ben Powless. "We may also need to discuss at some point of time the ecological debt that especially industrialised countries have with [us]. Consultations with us often only take the form of simply informing our communities."

The MRG research shows that indigenous peoples throughout the world are often among the poorest and most marginalised communities and are most likely to face discrimination when climate-driven disasters occur.

"There are entire communities that could be lost," Mihlar added in a statement. "Cultures, traditions, and languages could be wiped off the Earth."

At the climate change conference held in Bali, Indonesia last December, indigenous rights activists held a series of demonstrations against their exclusion from the official talks.

Among them, many had come from the communities living in the tropical forests of the world. At the conference, they expressed grave concerns about plans by governments and international financial institutions to control forest degradation. At the conference, they particularly expressed their worries about the World Bank's Carbon Partnership Facility, which is likely to provide large-scale incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The tropical and subtropical forest, the subject of the Facility, is home to 160 million indigenous people who are seen by many scientists as custodians and managers of forest biodiversity.

"While the Facility can be a good thing, we are very apprehensive of how this will work," said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, "because of our negative historical and present experiences with similar initiatives."

The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognises native groups' right to control their lands and resources, including forests, but many governments and corporations continue to abuse the rights of forest communities.

"We remain in a very vulnerable situation," said Tauli-Corpuz, "because most states do not recognise our rights to these forests and resources found therein."

Last year, a report released by an international advocacy group raised similar concerns about the role of governments and corporations. In its report, London-based Survival International named and shamed countries where the violations of tribal peoples' rights are most egregious, including Botswana, Brazil, New Zealand, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States.

In contrast to the U.N. negotiation process on climate change issues, indigenous communities enjoy a relatively greater role in discussions on preserving biodiversity. The secretariat of the U.N. treaty on biodiversity has established a working group to ensure this. MRG said it gathered a series of testimonies from the world's indigenous leaders in which they express "deep frustration" at their exclusion from the negotiations on climate change.

In a statement, the group called for the U.N. to establish a mechanism, similar to that of the treaty on biological diversity, so that indigenous communities can have their voices heard at the international level. The indigenous representatives attending the Poznan conference say they want the U.N. to engage all the indigenous communities affected by climate change in the negotiation process to advance an agenda on mitigation efforts.

"We are rights-holders in the discussions, not stakeholders," said Powless. "We demand full participation in the implementation of all areas of work concerning climate change and forests."

Native Rights News is making this International Press Service material available in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine codified at Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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Indigenous Peoples Fight for Participation in Global Climate Talks

Encouraged by limited progress achieved, support of some parties

International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change
Press Statement
05 December 2008

Poznan, Poland – After years of lobbying, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) are moving towards the establishment of an Expert Group on Indigenous Peoples within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a small but growing number of Party Delegations have expressed interest in developing the recommendation in support and solidarity with the 350 million Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.

“While we are very happy that governments are seemingly supportive of our rights, we are dismayed at the slow progress of adopting a mechanism that ensures our participation at the UNFCCC,” said Pashuram Tamang, chairperson of IIPFCC. “This is especially in view of the developments related to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).”

The issue of REDD remains problematic for Indigenous Peoples. While some governments have expressed support to the idea of recognizing indigenous rights as part of the preconditions prior to the implementation of REDD, many of the Indigenous Peoples’ delegates remain adamant in saying that “life is not for sale” and reject outright market-based mechanisms as ways to resolve the climate change problem.

More specifically, Indigenous Peoples see the current lack of a formal consultative process for Indigenous Peoples within the climate change negotiations as evidence that REDD will be contrary to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN-DRIP), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly (GA) in 2007.

“We are especially amazed that these Parties who now do not want us to participate in the UNFCCC are the same Parties that have adopted a document that clearly recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Adam Kulet Ole Mwarabu, a delegate from Tanzania.

Until the rights of Indigenous Peoples are guaranteed, IIPFCC has also called for the suspension of REDD and redd projects.

Indigenous delegates are going to use the remaining days to lobby for the draft decision calling for the establishment of the expert group.

The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) is composed of 75 delegates from indigenous nations and communities from different regions. It was established in 2000 in Lyon, France to provide a platform for indigenous peoples to share knowledge, discuss issues and contributing the indigenous voice to global discussions on climate change.

For more information, please contact IIPFCC Secretary Ben Powless ( / +48 798012282)

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