MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2006-06-29


Human Rights Council United Nations Office


29th June 2006

On behalf of the Indigenous Caucus, on this momentous occasion, we would like to express our heartfelt thoughts on the adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The League of Nations did not act on the demands of the diplomatic envoys of the Maori and the Iroquois Confederacy, so the roots of the present Declaration go back to 1974 and the voluminous Cobo report.

In 1977, the pivotal gathering of Indigenous peoples here at the United Nations prompted the world community to turn their attention to Indigenous Peoples in the Americas.

In this context, the important recommendation to establish the Working Group on Indigenous Populations was made.

The significant work of the five independent experts of the WGIP, two of whom are with us today, Erica Irene Daes and Miguel Alfonso Martinez, reflect that our repeated demands for recognition of our distinct status and rights would be addressed.

We persisted in our efforts and remained vigilant against some of the most formidable state forces in the world.

We relied upon our ability to engage in substantive debate, with positions that remain consistent with international law.

One of the most important outcomes has been that throughout all of our expressions, sometimes in our own languages, we have succeeded in educating the international community about the status, rights and lives of Indigenous peoples in every corner of world.

We will continue to do so in the Permanent Forum. The true legacy of the Declaration will be the way in which we, the Indigenous peoples of the world, in partnership with states, breathe life into these words.

The real test will be how this will affect the lives of our people on a daily basis.

While these are distinct and fundamental individual and collective human rights, it is their implementation at the community level, which will have an impact and give our children hope for a future where their lives and identity will be respected globally.

It would be unfair for us to name States that have played a leading role in reaching this point.

They know who they are and we know who they are.

They have worked with us to ensure the realization of this important human rights instrument.

We will not forget them and we will ask our people to honour them.

We trust that each of you will stand with us at the General Assembly as well.

Finally, we must express our thanks to Chairperson-Rapporteur Chavez for staunch efforts to reach a conclusion with this text. His patience to ensure that States and Indigenous Peoples could contribute effectively and equitably to the final outcome deserves our praise.

We express our wish as Indigenous Peoples for harmony in accordance with the natural world and hope that our multiple futures as Indigenous Peoples and States are brought together to embrace the positive contribution that we make to humankind.

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