United Nations, Geneva -- At this 50th Anniversary-Year of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, indigenous peoples from all over the world are gathered at the United Nations in Geneva to defend the current text of an international instrument being developed at the United Nations for the protection and promotion of their specific rights known as the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (hereafter referred to as the Draft Declaration). From November 30th through December 11th United Nations' member states, indigenous peoples and NGOs will go through the current text of the Draft Declaration during a special Working Group held at the United Nations in order to proceed with the development of a final text of this Declaration. Indigenous peoples want to achieve this Declaration's adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, before the end of the current United Nations Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples (1994-2004).
Indigenous peoples convened a two-day preparatory meeting (28-29 November 1998), prior to this official United Nations Working Group, in order to collectively develop their strategy and to then present their own desired agenda to the Working Group's Chariman. The outcome of this meeting was that the indigenous peoples affirmed their consensus in having the current text of the Draft Declaration be adopted by this Working Group without any changes, amemdments or deletions.
The current text of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is already the result of thirteen years of deliberations between indigenous peoples and the member states of the United Nations. The current Draft Declaration text used by this Working Group was already adopted in its current form by the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1993. A technical review was then carried out by its Secretariat and the entire text then passed the United Nations Sub-Commission on Human Rights in 1994. Thus indigenous peoples now assert that it is up to the governments to defend any changes, deletions or amendments which would change the general principles and therefore, assert that it is up to the governments to defend any changes, deletions or amendments which would change the general principles and therefore, the integrity of this Draft Declaration. Of the Preamble and the 45 Articles that make up this current text, as of today, only Articles 5 and 43 were passed in their entirety during the last session held last November 1997.
The presiding Chairman, Ambassador Jose Urrutia (Peru) during this first day of the Working Group has arranged the order of work, in consultation with indigenous peoples, as follows:
1) The Working Group will open with a general debate: indigenous peoples and governments can make statements on the general principles of the overall Draft Declaration;- Ron Barnes for the Indigenous Peoples' Media Committee
2) the participants can then debate on the general principles of Articles 1, 2, 12, 13, 14, 44, and 45;
3) the participants can then engage in a general debate on Article 3, considered to be the the most contentious Article by the United Nations member states and the most essential Article by the indigenous peoples. Article 3 states the following: "Indigenous Peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." The 90%virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." The principle of self-determination, its definition, its scope and its application to the Draft Declaration can also be debated at this time;
4) finally, the participants can debate on Articles 15, 16, 17, and 18 in order to establish enough consensus to pass these Articles, hopefully, before the end of this Working Group's session.
For more information contact Ron Barnes or Miriam Anne Frank at the Intermediary Media Office at DoCip at the United Nations in Geneva, telephone number ++41 22 917 7104 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that DoCip acts as an intermediary between the media and indigenous peoples' representratives. DoCip is not responsible for the content of the press releases issued.
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