Nov 30, 1997

Report on the United Nations Working Group on a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

Monday, October 27, 1997
Day 1, Morning Session

1. Mr. John Pace (on behalf of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Mary Robinson): Opens the 3rd session of the Working Group established in accordance with Commission of Human Rights Resolution 1995/32 of March 3, 1995. Says the High Commissioner for Human Rights regrets not having been able to attend the opening session of the Working Group, however she will be present on Tuesday, November 4. Affirms Ms. Robinson has followed with great interest the work undertaken by the Working Group and other human rights forums relating to the protection of indigenous peoples. Invites the Working Group to elect the chairman for this session.

2. Representative of New Zealand: Proposes Mr. Jose Urrutia as chairperson, due to his extensive experience in area of human rights and due to his excellent chairing of the previous working group.

3. Mr. John Pace: Thanks the representative of New Zealand for their nomination. Asks if there are any objections to the nomination of Mr. Urrutia as the chairman. There are none.

4. Mr. Jose Urrutia, Ambassador of Peru: Expresses gratitude for the trust placed in him for the 3rd time by the Working Group established according to resolution 1995/32 of the Human Rights Commission. Reiterates his continued commitment to the work undertaken in consultation with government representatives and representatives of indigenous peoples. Intends to conduct the work in a spirit of open transparency in order to achieve common objectives, in particular the adoption of the United Nations draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and populations. Underlines the fact that references to indigenous peoples and indigenous populations will be used interdependently without prejudice to the position of participants. Notes that the results of the two previous sessions have been taken into consideration to establish the method of work. Both reports clearly outline the various positions taken by delegates on the draft declaration. Consultations with both indigenous and country representatives show the Working Group should go beyond mere statements by reconciling opposing views and approving the articles. Asserts statements should be limited to those who have not yet made statements in the past. Notes that informal consultations will take place in order to foster a climate of trust and ensure rapid progress. Affirms the need to obtain tangible results to present to the Commission on Human Rights. Suspends the meeting in order to hold brief informal consultations. A detailed plan of work will be proposed this afternoon. The indigenous representatives will remain in the conference room to hold these informal consultations.


5. Mr. Willie Littlechild: Notes that did not finish all agenda items during the weekend meetings, i.e., discuss treaty study or European commission.

6. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Agrees that there are items on the agenda that need to be covered during the meetings. Asks for general comments and gives the floor to Ms. Dalee Sambo.

7. Ms. Dalee Sambo: Asks whether a general statement should be drafted on the basis of Moana Jackson's statement made last year in caucus. Suggests to adapt and update the statement taking into account the comments and positions of the indigenous representatives.

8. Ms. Andrea Carmen: Wants to discuss further the Madrid meeting, the resolution and the continued strategy.

9. Mr. Aucan Huilcaman: Thanks chairman. Suggests that indigenous representatives work on a statement during the course of the day. States that there is a need for clarification on which statement is being used. Suggests that yesterday it was brought to attention that a statement from last year would be utilized. Calls for clarification to avoid any misunderstandings on the statement being used. States a belief that adjustments can be made and agreement reached by this afternoon.

10. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Explains that paragraph 20 and the final report attached to the statement made last year are of importance and need to be re-stated should the indigenous representatives want it to appear in the final report. It could therefore be re-drafted for this session.

11. Ms. Pauline Tangiora: Emphasizes her deep concerns about the possible alteration of Mr. Juan Leon’s statement given last year. Stresses that the statement should be used without alterations.

12. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Reminds Ms. Pauline that Juan did not make a personal statement, but instead, the indigenous representatives as a whole claim the statement as their own.

13. Ms. Pauline Tangiora: Notes the statement was strong and should be maintained as it was drafted last year.

14. Mr. Ahmad: Calls on indigenous representatives not to repeat the same statement as last year but to put it in a different way. Stresses the need to think how the statement can be used as it was signed by many indigenous organizations from all over the world.

15. Mr. Marcial Arias: Suggests that there is no complete agreement on the statement. States that a consensus can be reached if the entire group works together. Asks the co-chairman to explain the proceedings which took place yesterday to inform everyone of the progress made. Encourages all indigenous representatives to comment on the previous proceedings.

16. Ms. Helen Corbett: Supports the suggestion of the previous speaker to give a review of the week-end meeting as a lot of time was spent discussing this issue, in particular that of the caucus.

17. Mr. Juan Leon, Co-Chairman: Gives a summary of the weekend meeting for those indigenous representatives who have just arrived. The indigenous representatives had two full days of discussions, three main items were discussed, 1. The evaluation of the operational and policy issues which indigenous peoples have been dealing with over the last year. 2. The approach to be adopted at the IWGIP. 3. Definition of long term strategy: Item 1, They evaluated the position of indigenous peoples, and carried out an assessment of policy decisions taken by indigenous peoples over the last year to protect the integrity of the declaration; Item 2, Specific proposals were put forward. Policy decisions were taken to defend the declaration and its content, and to reject any change, emphasized that the indigenous representatives want the integrity of the declaration to be maintained. In relation to the operational approach it was suggested that a statement should be made to reflect the indigenous peoples position and reiterate policy decisions proposed. It was proposed that the statement would be signed by all groups here present, however he noted that not all indigenous representatives had signed the statement. There had been a proposal to draft another statement. Importance placed on starting a dialogue with governments, not a negotiation, but a dialogue in order to extract information and express the indigenous representatives point of view, and to have a chance to influence government representatives decisions. Emphasized the importance of dialogue to defend the concept of self- determination and indigenous populations. Dependent on information gathered through such a dialogue, there was a proposal to meet on Wednesday to define how indigenous representatives are going to act in light of information received. Mr. Urrutia proposed to deal with articles in clusters dealing with the less controversial ones first. Indigenous representatives however thought that it would be better to start the other way around, looking at the most controversial articles first. Mr. Urrutia was also requested to hold regular meetings with indigenous peoples, various regional representatives were appointed to attend the meetings with Mr. Urrutia. Those regions who have not put forward a regional representative, were urged to do so. To conclude, indigenous representatives stressed that they must remain firm and be well briefed, and whatever form statements take they should support the principle concepts of self determination and indigenous peoples.

18. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Thanks Co-chairman, Juan Leon, for a complete report. Asks if there are any corrections to the report. There are none.

19. ...: Wishes to comment on what has been discussed. Apologizes for being absent over the weekend sessions. Wishes to open discussion about the need for flexibility and wants to discuss how much flexibility will be allowed. States that negotiations will be necessary with governments, but the range of flexibility in those negotiations should be addressed before proceeding. Wants to know how the indigenous representatives can and will take part in the discussions. Suggests that if a general consensus can be reached that the group plan the agenda for the next two weeks.

20. ...: Notes that although there is no consensus a statement should be made updating last year's one. This has been the procedure until today and should be followed to remain consistent.

21. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Asks Dalee and Marcial to make a common statement.

22. ...: Thanks chairman. Calls for a consensus on last year’s work and states a belief that an agreement can be reached. States that last year’s work should be endorsed. Reads the statement from the previous year to the entire group for clarification. Suggests that the end of the statement be given special attention, but as a whole, the statement can be agreed upon.

23. Mr. Juan Leon, Co-Chairman: Says a statement should be made in line with the policy analysis made over the last two days.

24. ...: Urges indigenous representatives to move on and stop discussing the consensus statement, as it has already been decided that the statement will be drafted by Daily and Marcial. Calls on indigenous representatives not to waste time, and to move on to discussing possible approaches for the afternoon session.

25. Mr. Juan Leon, Co-chairman: Agrees to move on to the discussion to be presented by Mr. Urrutia. States that the agenda is not known. Opens the floor to anyone desiring to speak.

26. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Notes Mr. Urrutia has concluded the discussion with government representatives and can attend this informal meeting at 11h45. Says that the government representatives are giving Mr. Urrutia a free hand on how to set up the agenda. Asks if this is acceptable to the indigenous representatives. Notes that a program of work has already been presented by the indigenous representatives to Mr. Urrutia expressing the wish to discuss basic principles.

27. Ms. Andrea Carmen: Reiterates that indigenous representatives must present a consensus position, and insist that discussion starts with article 3 on self determination. Reminded indigenous representatives of what happened at the ILO Convention 169, stressed the importance of the chance to debate self determination openly at the beginning of the IWGIP. States that self determination is not negotiable and is the base of the declaration.

28. Co-Chairman: Thanks Ms. Carmen. Asks if there are any other comments. Gives the floor to Mr. Marcial Arias.

29. Mr. Marcial Arias: Suggests a closer look at the program as done over the weekend. Asks for a discussion of the differences in formal and informal meetings. Expresses concern about the status of the two types of meetings. Asks for a summary of the ideas agreed upon to ensure a proper discussion and full agreement before the arrival of Mr. Urrutia.

30. Mr. Juan Leon, Co-Chairman: Says that a summary of what has been agreed between indigenous delegates was made earlier. It has been decided to defend the integrity of the draft declaration and to start discussions with the principle of self-determination. It was also agreed to get in touch with government representatives to get a clearer picture of their position on some of the articles. The program of work could then be modified on Wednesday according to the information received from governments. Notes there has as yet been no decision taken on whether to have informal or formal meetings. It should be clear as to what is meant by these. Notes that a problem of participation by some delegates has been clarified.

31. Ms. Pauline Tangiora: Emphasized that have now been working for over 10 years on the declaration, spoke of their moral responsibility to retain the integrity of the declaration. Notes that only the bones of declaration are left, warns that the discussions regarding negotiation of the declaration are dividing us as indigenous peoples. States that there is no more room to negotiate, governments must be honest, as it is now a matter of moral principle.

32. ...: Proposes that the indigenous representatives listen to the summary of the proceedings between Mr. Urrutia and the governments. Suggests that waiting until after Mr. Urrutia speaks to discuss would help in moving on to other issues.

33. Mr. Willie Littlechild: Agrees with this suggestion. Notes that they should now move on to other issues.

34. Mr. Juan Leon, Co-Chairman: Notes that did not arrive at agreement on all points over the weekend, asks the representatives to listen carefully to each of the points made, and to remember to bear decisions made over the weekend in mind.

35. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Welcomes Mr. Urrutia, working group chairman, to the meeting. States that the indigenous representatives are aware that Mr. Urrutia has consulted with the governments. Asks Mr. Urrutia to present the outcomes of the consultations.

36. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Says he briefed the governments on discussions held with indigenous delegates over the past two days and had an exchange of view. Notes that the problem of access by some indigenous peoples to the conference room is solved and Identity Cards are available outside the room. Explains discussions will start by a general debate and participation will be limited to those who have not yet had an opportunity to make a general statement. A list of speaker will be drawn and depending on the length of this list one or two sessions will set for this debate. Requests the statements remain brief and specific, directed at the issues outlined in the reports. Notes government representatives prefer the discussion to be carried out article by article although indigenous delegates expressed a preference for an exchange of view on principles. Suggests the Working Group could go through the articles referring to the principles underlying these articles. Says that government representatives agree to have an in-depth discussion of article 3 but would prefer to do so at the end of the week after having dealt with other articles.

38. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Proposes that the indigenous representatives begin with articles which will be easily agreed upon. Suggests that articles 15, 16, and 17 would be acceptable to begin discussion because the articles can be agreed upon in a timely manner. Calls for flexibility in the schedule, but strongly suggests that article 3 concerning self-determination be discussed at the end of the first week of meetings. Reemphasizes the need for flexibility, but again, suggests the postponement of article 3 discussion until the end of the week.

39. Co-Chairman: Asks Mr. Urrutia to repeat the articles suggested for beginning discussion for clarification.

40. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Says the list of articles proposed is based on last year’s report. They will be considered in the following order: articles 15, 16, 17, 18, 43, 5, 14, 44, 45, 1, 2 ,12 and 13. Article 3 will then be inserted at the appropriate moment, preferably after consideration of some of the other articles.

41. Co-Chairman: Asks about the order of articles.

42. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Confirms that frank and open dialogue will be encouraged during informal meetings. Suggests that each article be discussed to see if there is a consensus. States a belief that there will be differences of opinion. Says that it is important to look first at the principle contained within the article, and then at the article itself.

43. Ms. Dalee Sambo: Asks for reiteration of the fact that there will be no re-drafting, in this session, of any of the articles of the declaration.

44. Ms. Andrea Carmen: Understands that there will be informal meetings, when participation of indigenous peoples is on an equal footing basis with governments, and that no decision will be made to approve or amend any article in the declaration without the complete consensus of both indigenous peoples and state delegations. Asks for affirmation from Mr. Urrutia, that there has been no change in the structure of the session.

45. Ms. Dalee Sambo: States that with all due respect to Mr. Urrutia, issues must be discussed in regard to negative contributions made in the last year. Refers to proposed amendments suggested by the U.S. government which are damaging to the draft declaration. Suggests that the U.S. has not changed their stance since 1995 or 1996. Says that the damaging proposals undermine the language and weaken the text of the draft declaration. Questions how this serious issue will be handled during the course of these meetings.

46. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Says he has no knowledge of specific proposals to be made by States. Notes that such States are free to do so and delegates can then express their agreement or disagreement. Following such a discussion or exchange of view a consensus can then be achieved.

47. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Wishes to clarify that in exchanges of view the consensus will have to come from both sides, government representatives and indigenous peoples. As far as modification of the draft declaration is concerned it will depend on the progress made, at previous sessions, many proposals made a positive contribution to the declaration, strengthening the text. Proposals for slight modifications are normally aimed at improving text rather than wishing to weaken it.

48. Mr. Willie Littlechild: Asks for an explanation of the rationale behind the new clusters, and also asks why article 43 was moved. States that the informal sessions should not only be an opportunity to clarify the indigenous peoples positions, but more importantly it is also for governments to explain their reasons for opposition to the declaration.

49. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Thanks Mr. Littlechild. Says that government declarations may not be watering down the declaration. Expresses no personal opinion on the watering down of the declaration. Reminds that paragraph 3 has received lengthy consideration. Feels that if certain issues receive lengthy consideration, the working group will lose momentum. Supports a move forward to issues which can be agreed upon quickly. Says that it would show the Commission on Human Rights a willingness to move forward by the indigenous peoples. Also states that article 43 has no known controversial content.

50. Mr. Lazaro Pary: Notes the suggestion made is exactly the same as that made last year and that such a grouping of articles refrains from an in-depth analysis of the legal scope of these articles. If this procedure is adopted no progress will be made in this session as delegates will limit themselves to expressing their views on the various articles. Indigenous peoples agree that this year’s work should start with the articles and paragraphs that are the most controversial, such as self- determination, collective rights of indigenous peoples, protection of the right to land, the right to cultural and intellectual property, and protection of natural resources. Supports the view that they should first settle the problems which are the most difficult and those which are questioned by States. Says indigenous peoples have a flexible approach and are willing to negotiate, however the final document should be approved and adopted with the full support and participation of indigenous peoples. It is essential that discussions take place on an equal footing with States. Notes many government delegations have expressed positive views and constructive modifications. Underlines the importance of having to update the declaration in view of the changes that have occurred over the last fourteen years.

51. Mr. Jose Urrutia: In response to Mr. Pary’s statement, he is in absolute agreement with the last part of his statement, and it was exactly for that reason that his proposals were made. However as to the rest of Mr. Pary's statement, he would not agree that it is the same as in previous years as are not dealing with articles in clusters but individually.

52. Mr. Mick Dodson: Congratulates the chairman on his election. States that the proposed agenda to postpone discussion of article 3 and link the discussion of other articles together seems attractive. Suggests a caucus on the matter to come to full consensus on the proposal.

53. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Says when consensus on an article is achieved it will be adopted without further modifications by governments.

54. Mr. Marcial Arias: Refers to original proposal to begin discussion taking into account article 3. It appears that there are two proposals to start with less problematic or most problematic. Emphasizes that all indigenous peoples organizations have made a tremendous effort to come to this meeting, and it would be regrettable if such an important discussion were left until next week when not all organizations could participate. Notes that in all human rights meetings the last few days normally are not when important work is done. Notes that many governments have not rejected article 3 per se. Reiterates that article 3 is the real core of the declaration, whether start with the easiest or more difficult articles is irrelevant, must start with heart of the declaration. Wants to hear the governments reasons for not starting this way, notes that it is important that go into more depth regarding this issue. States his concern over the formal and informal meetings. Asks what the process is going to be and how the transition is going to occur. Asks how is it going to handle the participation of indigenous peoples in the formal meetings. Asks about future participation in meetings.

55. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Emphasizes that in the earlier consultations, governments have expressed their willingness to discuss article 3. Reminds the group that it was suggested that article 3 be discussed at the end of the first week, not the second week. Reiterates that if the proposed articles, 15, 16, and 17 are discussed first, then the discussion can begin on article 3 in a specific manner rather than an abstract manner at the end of the first week. Explains that during informal meetings a consensus will be reached. During formal meetings, governments can give insight to the issues which the indigenous representatives have agreed upon.

56. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Notes Mr. Urrutia will also chair informal meetings and there will be full interpretation during these. Asks for clarifications on the problem of free and unimpeded access to the Working Group.

57. Mr. Jose Urrutia: States that he spoke with the secretariat earlier and that there will be no difficulty regarding participation in meetings, and that indigenous organizations are not prevented from registering with ECOSOC.

58. Mr. Julian Burger, Secretariat: States that a number of organizations have not gone through the bureaucratic process for approval. Says there are seven or eight organizations in this situation, and expresses that these organizations have been given a provisional card to participate.

59. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: Notes it does not solve the problem of those who have been refused access under Resolution 1995/32.

60. ...: Points out that the request to start with article 3 is made in good faith and after the experience of working for 3 years on ILO Convention 169 where the right to self-determination was redefined, through qualifiers at the end of the text. Presents copy of US proposal to the panel asks them to look at article 2, to highlight how it limits the right to self determination.

61. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Reminds that at the moment the group is discussing the organization of the work. Says that the discussion on U.S. delegation would be fitted into the program at some point. Suggests that starting on article 3 would hinder progress. Restates that governments are ready to discuss article 3. Strongly suggests that discussing and coming to consensus on other articles would establish a climate of trust and show progress. Says that starting with article 3 could lead to a lengthy discussion. Appeals to the indigenous representatives to look at the proposal positively. Suggests the indigenous representatives can set forward a positive symbol of goodwill if work progresses on issues which a consensus can be reached.

62. Ms. Andrea Carmen: Says indigenous representatives can demonstrate flexibility as for the program of work. Regrets there will be a limitation of comments on general principles and other general comments. Having to consider articles individually calls for time to make comments of a more general nature.

63. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Reaffirms that when he spoke of limiting statements he was talking about during general debates, he did not talk about limiting when it comes to discussion of articles. Need to give preference to those who have not had a chance to give their general statements. Not his intent to limit discussion on the detail of the articles.

64. Mr. Willie Littlechild: Asks Mr. Urrutia if indigenous representatives are simply observers in formal meetings. Questions if the formal meeting is to give approval to the consensus. States that there will be no reopening of discussions during formal meetings.

65. Mr. Jose Urrutia: Notes that no further discussion will be necessary during the formal session as consensus will have been reached during the informal sessions. The former will be limited to adoption of what has been agreed during the latter.

66. ...: Refers to the limitation of statements made during formal sessions. Notes that anyone wishing to speak should have the opportunity to do so independent of whether they have already taken the floor in previous sessions.

67. Mr. Juan Leon, Co-Chairman: Reminds meeting that they have only 10 minutes left. Must start to consider how the articles of the draft declaration are going to be handled, also statements by delegations who have not yet been presented. Asks whether they are going to continue to insist that they wish to start with article 3 on self determination.

68. Mr. Mick Dodson: Recommends the adoption of the proposal of the organization of the work as suggested by Mr. Urrutia. States that representatives will have ample opportunity to raise concerns about article 3 during general statements throughout all discussions. Implies that article 3 is the golden thread which holds the document together. States that there is nothing to prevent talk about article 3 during the discussions and calls for consideration of Mr. Urrutia’s proposal.

69. ...: Suggests indigenous representatives should accept the proposal made by States. When considering specific articles, however, the Working Group could start by considering article 3 which touches on one of the most serious issues.

70. Mr. Lars Anders Baer, Saami Representative: Supports suggestion put forward by Mr. Dodson, believes that this proposal is an acceptable compromise.

71. ...: Expresses opposition to this proposal. States that Mr. Urrutia has not clarified his representations in formal and informal sessions. Expresses concern about the lack of discussion about veto power of the indigenous representatives during these proceedings. Refers to article 15 and the conventional rights of the child. Stresses the importance for the rights of the children to be protected. Suggests that Mr. UrrutiaÕs proposal cannot be accepted because article 3 is directly related to each of the other articles, including the article 15.

72. Mr. Kenneth Deer, Co-Chairman: States the meeting will be resumed at 15h00. The English and Spanish indigenous groups will meet at 14h00 to continue discussions and adopt solutions to be put forward to the Working Group at 15h00.

73. Mr. Lazaro Pary: Warns that Governments are trying to undermine the whole procedure. The proposal to deal with the easiest articles first is an attempt to block the procedure. Calls on indigenous representatives to insist that discussions start with the most crucial items on the agenda as it is essential to the survival of indigenous peoples.

74. Co-Chairman: Tells Mr. Pary that they are losing interpretation of his discussion. Proposes to meet in caucus at 2:00pm.

75. Co-Chairman: Says that a consensus had been reached and states that the group should remain steadfast to their previous consensus.

Tuesday, October 28, 1997
Day 2, Morning Session

1. Mr. Jose Urrutia, Chairman: Calls to order the second meeting of the Working Group established in accordance with the Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1995/32 of March 3, 1995. Adopts the agenda contained in the document EC... . According to item three of the provisional agenda the Working Group must also adopt the program of work. Explains that consultations have taken place with government and indigenous representatives. Notes a consensus has been reached on the way the Working Group intends to organize its work. The work will start in a formal session, so as to have general debate. Those who have not yet had the opportunity to express their point of view on the draft declaration will do so. Says the opinions of delegates that have already made statements have been recorded in the previous reports and are known to all. Requests representatives to be brief and concise so as to limit the length of the general debate. Hopes this will take place in one session. It will then be followed by an informal session during which the following articles will be discussed: articles 15, 16, 17, 18, 43, 5, 14, 44, 45, 1, 2,12 and 13. Notes the length of the discussion will depend on the time available. Says discussion on article 3 will be included in this sequence during meetings on Thursday and Friday and will be followed by the articles remaining to be discussed. Says informal sessions are there for everyone to express themselves freely in order to attain a common level of understanding. Formal sessions will be used to formalize agreements reached in consensus during informal meetings. Says discussions on each article will start with the principle contained in that article before discussing its wording. Trusts progress can be made. Asks if there are any comments. Approves the program of work. Calls on the first speaker to take the floor.

2. Mr. Mario Ibarra: Thanks chairman. Reminds the WGIP that in resolution 1995/35 the Commission on Human Rights established an open ended working group to elaborate on the declaration using as its base the document annexed to resolution 1994/45 of the Sub commission on the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities. The resolution of the commission established that the declaration would be considered and adopted by the General Assembly during the international decade of indigenous peoples. The sources of inspiration for the accomplishment of the normative objects of this group were:

1. The UN charter;
2. All existing human rights instruments;
3. Humanitarian law;
4. Specific paragraphs in declarations from important UN conferences, e.g. the Rio and Vienna declarations;
5. General Assembly resolution 41/120;
6. Studies carried out by sub commission, and all activities ,workshops etc., that the UN has organized about indigenous peoples;
7. The wishes of the indigenous peoples for the subject of the declaration;
8. Positive experience gained through national law, agreements, negotiations, and any other forms of conflict resolution which are being developed;
9. Current legal and philosophical thinking which provide and ask for developments of international law also be considered;
Notes that the WGIP and the international decade of indigenous peoples are all progress, hopes that this standard setting exercise, in the long term will lead to a convention on indigenous peoples. Emphasizes that the draft declaration provides a wealth of minimum standards to ensure the physical and cultural survival of the worlds indigenous people. Reminds group that the draft declaration is inspired by other international law instruments, adopts provisions provided for in other instruments which deal with indigenous peoples, contains legal provisions of internal law and includes the legal and philosophical reflections of indigenous peoples. Says that the draft declaration is a matter of historical justice, it seeks to avoid the disappearance of indigenous cultures, to ensure indigenous peoples survival as part of the common heritage of mankind by incorporating groups who have been absent in the decision making of legislation which effects them. Finally, thinks that the draft declaration could be adopted at this session.
3. Mr. Lazaro Pary: Thanks chairman. Greets brothers. Expresses a great concern with the increasing "watering down" of the draft with abstract statements. States firm opposition to this "watering down" of the draft. Believes that indigenous people have overcome many barriers. Believes that the focus of the draft declaration should not be approached in a minimalist view, but focused instead in a way to improve, strengthen, and harmonize the provisions in all scopes that they may become consistent with international documents. Reminds that many years of work have taken place before a draft declaration for the rights of indigenous peoples was written. Expresses concern that despite technical revision, more engagement in discussion will postpone the rights of indigenous peoples into the third millennium. Stresses that participation by indigenous peoples during this decisive phase is imperative to ensure the rights of the indigenous peoples. Believes that the 1993 Vienna Declaration ensures the rights and freedoms of all peoples. States that under this resolution, the Working Party should ensure that indigenous peoples are given equal status to government representatives. Expresses that it is possible to break the fragile balance between government and indigenous peoples if all parties are not careful to avoid doing so. Expresses to the brothers and sisters that emotion alone will not suffice, but instead it is necessary to use cold and objective analysis as each issue is discussed. Believes that international awareness has occurred despite the lack of a document from the Working Group. Fears that governments can veto the Working GroupÕs decisions. Believes that indigenous peoplesÕ have suffered censorship in which certain statements have been restricted in their content, but also believes that the written work reflects the true wishes of the indigenous peoples. States that information has not been made available to the delegates in certain instances and that information was excluded by the Secretariat. Urges strongly that the first item of importance is the issue of self- determination. Concludes with a sincere purpose to make substantive contributions so consistency with international laws can be established. Believes that the Working Group has a historic and moral responsibility to ensure the adoption of the draft declaration.

4. Ms. Minnie Degawan, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (Asia): On behalf of the Asian indigenous organizations, congratulates the Chairman on his re-election. Hopes to break new ground and looks forward to the adoption of the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. Stresses that the present draft is the minimum standard. With the development of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and their corresponding impact on indigenous peoples it is not far-fetched to imagine that by the end of the decade there will be no more indigenous peoples in Asia. Urges all to adopt the draft declaration at this session. Expresses concern at the problems of participation that persist in this forum. Calls on the Human Rights Commission to recognize full participation and regrets that this problem has not been addressed. Notes many Asian indigenous organizations have come across problems of accreditation. Urges the Working Group to adopt a more dynamic and flexible approach.

5. Representative of the Comision Juridica para el Autodesarrollo de los Pueblos Originarios Andinos, and CAPAJ: Thanks and congratulates chairman, greets members of the working group. States that the IWG IP has a responsibility in drafting the declaration to fill the omission in international law, at the moment indigenous peoples are at a flagrant disadvantage when participating in the international community. Expresses hope that the draft declaration will be approved, stresses that the situation of indigenous peoples can not wait any longer, moreover the situation will be aggravated if international bodies do not take action to prevent the destruction. Reiterates that the draft declaration involves indigenous peoples contributions and heart felt feelings, and hopes that the draft declaration can be adopted at this session. States that if the draft declaration is adopted as a whole it would solve many legal contradictions in South America.

6. Mr. Aucan Huilcaman: Thanks chairman. Suggests that the third session of the Working Group plan for forward progress. Calls for the Working Group to adopt the draft declaration. States that indigenous peoples have been working for over a decade using their resources of time and money to see progress towards their fundamental rights. Believes that adoption will be positive for international law, States, and governments as well as the indigenous peoples. Believes adoption will complete international laws on the rights of indigenous peoples and will enable the vis-à-vis governments to push for fairer relations to correct unfair policies from States in previous years. States that work has continued for half of the decade, and despite a great amount of attention, the declaration is still in its beginning stages of discussion. Expresses concern that time is of the essence, and there is much work before the adoption can take place. Believes that the draft declaration should include new aspects to international law and contribute to international law overall. Hopes the draft declaration can help repair the damage done to indigenous peoples over the years. States that fundamental rights are not in competition with the governments. Believes that indigenous peoples have not enjoyed and been allowed to exercise their fundamental rights in the past. Urges governments to protect and defend their legal systems, but accept the fact that indigenous peoples’ rights have not been protected. Expresses that article 3 on self-determination will not be discussed at this moment, but stresses that the discussion indeed should have started with this important article. Recommends the Working Group adopt the draft declaration in its entirety without amendment.

7. Mr. Maleyer, Foundation of Aboriginal and Islander Research Action: Notes that this year his delegation has been joined by many new organizations and takes this opportunity to restate their common position. Congratulates the Chairman on his re-election and says he displayed great flexibility, skill and commitment during the current session. Says there is an increasing recognition of the importance of ensuring indigenous participation as equal partners in order to build the understanding and consensus necessary to adopt the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. The integrity of the declaration will depend on indigenous peoples securing such a consensus. Believes that it will be difficult to achieve but is confident in the delegates present here today. Stresses that the right to self-determination underpins the entire document and that qualifying this right is unacceptable. Welcomes the re-ordering of the program of work which allows for the consideration of this fundamental principle. The right of self-determination is the pillar on which all other articles rest. Says the provisions of the declaration can not be segregated and should be considered as a whole. Stresses that collective rights do not weaken individual rights, on the contrary they strengthen and complement these. The draft declaration is not the first international instrument to attribute rights to collectivities. Also of fundamental importance to indigenous peoples are the lands and resource rights. Notes that the declaration articulates minimum standards and thus represents the floor and not the ceiling of their aspirations and entitlements. Expresses confidence of the capacity of indigenous peoples to defend the integrity of the document. The declaration does not create new or special rights but builds on an existing body of international human rights law. Refers to the General Recommendation adopted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which confirms that no decision relating to the rights and interests of indigenous peoples can be taken without their informed consent and which calls on State parties to recognize their right to own, develop, control and use their communal lands. Welcomes the opportunity to express their concern and discuss them with States. Refers to the constructive statement made last year by Canada. Urges States who have not contributed to the discussion to do so and engage in a dialogue to clarify what the right to self-determination means to indigenous peoples. Hopes the present session will advance discussion of the general principles and foster greater understanding and cooperation.

8. Mr. Juan Leon, International Indian Treaty Council: Says that his organization wants to contribute thoughts on the draft declaration. States that the draft declaration is a consensus of hundreds of indigenous peoples from all over the world. Reaffirm their commitment to the adoption of the whole declaration, the contents of which are the basic principles, and the minimum acceptable standards for the protection of indigenous peoples. Emphasizes that the basic point of the declaration is contained in article 3 on self determination. States that art.3 is supported by other international instruments which provide for equal rights and notes that the right of self determination should be applied to indigenous peoples as the right is recognized as not one of states or countries but of peoples. Reaffirms that the concept “peoples” should not be altered to the theoretical detriment of the instrument. The use of “peoples” as a concept has already been accepted by the sub commission.. Hopes that representatives of States will make progress towards adoption of the declaration during this session and listen to the hopes and points raised by indigenous peoples who want only to attain their cultural, social, economic and political rights without any harm to any one else.

9. Mr. Elijah Harper, Representative of Assembly of First Nations: Thanks chairman. Congratulates the chairman on his re-election. Acknowledges the indigenous peoples and the government representatives attending the meeting. Explains the progress of First Nations in the struggle for indigenous peoples rights. Expresses the priority of Assembly of First Nations to facilitate the realization of self determination for indigenous peoples. Emphasizes the need to remain flexible in how self-determination is applied in different contexts. States that Assembly of First Nations was one of the first organizations to obtain consultative status with the UN Wants to encourage adoption of the declaration. Expresses the crucial importance of the document in ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples everywhere. Supports the contributions made to the draft declaration to date. Expresses a positive outlook for the future and encourages the Working Group to maintain the momentum of progress. States that the draft declaration is a bare minimum to maintain the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples. Supports an improvement of the declaration through dialogue and clarification and asks people to remember that we live in a rapidly changing world. States that indigenous peoples must facilitate changes themselves. Recognizes progress made by the indigenous peoples of Canada with the Canadian governments. Explains how the indigenous people of Canada remained firm to their values and yet, still flexible as they consulted with the governments. Believes that indigenous peoples of Canada still have many dialogues to engage in with the governments, but shares the progress of Assembly of First Nations as an encouragement to the indigenous peoples to continue their struggle. States that the time is right to recognize the self-determination of indigenous people everywhere. Encourages all States to strive to engage in dialogue with indigenous peoples, as the Canadian government and Assembly of First Nations has undertaken. Urges forward progress on the clarification and adoption of the existing articles of the declaration. Urges the adoption and ratification of the intact declaration.

10. Mr. Roger Jocelyn, Amerindian Organization of French Guyana: Reconfirms on the threshold of the third millennium and following ten years of work within the United Nations forum their status as indigenous peoples having the right to self-determination and to develop their own political, economic, social and spiritual system. Recalls that indigenous peoples have worked to ensure their own existence but also against all forms of discrimination, to promote tolerance and to establish good relations between the indigenous peoples of the world. Says over recent years relations have been rapidly changing and have become more global. One can witness the development of two processes: standardization; and an increase of differences. Adds that in this context it is essential to promote indigenous standards and to recognize cultural diversity which is a fundamental value of the human being. If this is not recognized it will be extremely difficult for indigenous peoples to overcome the current increase of racism and xenophobia. Stresses that governments should meet the challenges of modern time and leave a material but also a moral inheritance for future generations based on indigenous values as well as western modern values. Says progress must be made to increase and facilitate participation in decision making bodies at the local, national and international level. Urges governments to adopt the draft declaration which represents a minimum standard. Appeals to all to establish a new basis for relations between indigenous peoples and governments.

11. Mr. Marcial Arias: Thanks chairman and echoes congratulations made by other indigenous peoples on his appointment. Presents a joint statement on behalf of the indigenous peoples of Central and South America, to give their view on the course of discussions. Wants to know the positions taken by governments on the fundamental right of self determination. Expresses their concern at the delay of the discussion on self-determination, as may now only be a formal one and may avoid any substantive discussion. Stresses that if recognition of the right to self determination is not forthcoming will have mutilated the progress made thus far. Reminds the working group that the fundamental concepts of peace, development and human rights, which were the basic principles for the establishment of the UN, can only be enjoyed if they have the fundamental right to self determination. States that indigenous peoples would like to ensure strict compliance of all states with the basic underlying principles of the UN, if these are not respected, then it is worrying for the development of international law. Furthermore avoiding the fundamental issue of self determination, is a flagrant abuse of the reform which the UN is supposed to be undergoing at the moment.

12. Mr. Hassan ID Balkassm: Addresses chairman, distinguished delegates and representatives of indigenous peoples. States that he is speaking on behalf of the African nations present at the Working Group. Stresses that the UN Charter opens with "We the peoples of the United Nations". Reads the second paragraph of article 1, "based on the respect of the principle equality and for the rights of the peoples and their self-determination." Says that the draft declaration is the result of more than 10 years of work done by indigenous peoples, government representatives, and organizations. Believes that a great deal of work has been accomplished to arrive at the present document. States that the General Assembly stated in 41/120 that the draft declaration was a step along the road to recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and also stated that the draft declaration is the minimum standard. Says that everyone cannot accept the denial of human rights of indigenous peoples and states that to change the third article would infringe upon the United Nations principles. Suggests the Working Group adopt the draft declaration without amendment. Submits a petition signed by more than 300 non-governmental organizations and legal unionists, collected during three international conferences. Requests inclusion of the petition in a paragraph of the report. States that the petition calls for the adoption without any amendments. Says the petition includes addresses and telephone numbers of the individuals who signed. Urges again for the adoption of the draft declaration in its present form.

13. Mr. Oleg Egorov: Congratulates the Chairman of his re-election. States Human Rights issues are not an internal matter of every state but a concern of the entire international community. Human Right documents are sometimes the only hope for survival of certain peoples. Says developing countries often have no internal legal administrative mechanism to protect human or indigenous rights. Today indigenous peoples of the world rely on international legal instruments as their only hope for survival as peoples. Says many years of work and effort have been placed in the drafting of the present declaration which constitutes a minimum standard. It is only normal to hear those who are concerned and have the special knowledge. Stresses the declaration is established for the common human family. Encourages all to reach consensus and adopt the declaration at this session and without modification.

14. Representative of the International Working Group of Indigenous Affairs: Thanks chairman. Presents statement in affirmation of the draft declaration, and reports on progress made in India. Supports adoption of the declaration without any changes or amendments retaining its integrity. Thanks governments of Fiji and Denmark for their generally more positive attitude towards the declaration. States that although the Indian government continues to deny indigenous peoples existence, welcomes the progress made in extending some measure of self rule for the indigenous peoples of India and the peace initiative in the Naga homelands. Encourages that Indian government accepts that indigenous peoples issues require political solutions.

15. Mr. Mick Dodson, Indigenous Initiative for Peace: Greetings to all participants. Says that members of the Indigenous Initiative for Peace are indigenous peoples from all over the world. Explains that the founding members of this organization met in May, 1994 in Mexico City to consider their priorities for the remainder of the decade. Reports that at this meeting in 1994, the members concluded that one of their primary commitments was to urge the adoption without alteration of the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. States that article 3 is the fundamental, foundational article of the entire draft declaration, as reflected in every provision of the declaration. States that self -determination guarantees the cultural, political, social, and economic rights of indigenous peoples. Believes that progress will occur only if indigenous peoples are included in all agreements. Wishes to see an adoption of the draft document in order to remain consistent with the UN Charter and other international documents. Believes in peace, and believes that it is an achievable goal. Says that Indigenous Initiative for Peace has submitted an application to participate in the Working Group. Says that the application states the great need to achieve self -determination for all indigenous peoples. Believes that the current declaration begins a journey down the path to peace and encourages everyone to join in a collective effort to end war and begin a new and promising future for the world.

16. Ms. Mililani Trask. Na Koa Ikaika O Ka Lahui (Hawaii): Says the Ha Koa Ikaika O Ka Lahui is an NGO created specifically to provide Native Hawaiian indigenous peoples a vehicle to participate in these proceedings. This followed the restrictive and exclusionary United Nations procedures contained in the Commission for Human Rights Resolution 1995/32, which set forth the process for the participation of indigenous peoples in the Inter-Sessional Working Group. Says indigenous Hawaiians have participated for many years in the United Nations proceedings to ensure minimum standards under international law for the protection and recognition of the civil, political, social, economic, cultural and human rights of indigenous peoples. Notes that they participated prior and at the inception of the International Labor Organization process. The Hawaiian peoples voiced at that time the position that an unqualified right to self-determination is the basis for establishing minimum international legal standards. All are unified in this position. Regrets that States limited this principle in the ILO Convention 169 and thus denied indigenous peoples a broad protection under international law. Indigenous Hawaiians continue to seek changes in the United Nations process for indigenous participation in the Inter-Sessional Working Group in order to ensure that those most impacted and affected can defend and attain full political, civil and economic rights. Calls on the draft declaration to be considered as a whole. Says that in order to ensure the cultural survival of indigenous peoples they must be free to exercise their unqualified rights to self-determination. By virtue of this right indigenous peoples will be able to determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Says that for native Hawaiians and all indigenous peoples the notion of collective rights has always been the traditional view. In some cases nations have recognized these collective rights by referring to the territories and natural resources as trusts and land assets. The lands of indigenous Hawaiians were expressly placed in trust to preserve them for future generations. Notes that if domestic law recognizes that these rights are collective it is contradictory for the same nations to assert that indigenous peoples and cultures should only have protection for individual rights. Stresses that they have come to Geneva in good faith to defend the Draft Declaration in its entirety. Says that they have repeatedly requested that Article 3 be debated first, as they don’t believe indigenous peoples can come to a consensus on the provisions in the Draft Declaration unless consensus is first reached on this critical issue.

17. Representative of the International Commission for the Indigenous Rights of Peoples of South America: Conveys his greetings. Reiterates that 1997 is the 20th anniversary of indigenous peoples participation in the UN. Over the last 20 years indigenous peoples have come into the gaze of international community, groups became country wide organizations, indigenous peoples made the world see their vitality, and showed through their life styles a more consistent approach in relation to nature. Reminds that the drafting took many years, and now have the final text before us for adoption. Propose that draft declaration be ratified as it stands with out change, and assume legal acceptance as soon as possible. Emphasizes that self determination is crucial and warns against undermining this principle. Although the draft declaration has defects if continue to reformulate, it will never be finished. The draft declaration is the result of the work of one generation, and involves the work of many who are no longer with us. Notes that there are states still in opposition; and other states who recognize self determination. Mentions that such recognition has led to improvements in the whole society of those states. Says that the wind of history is behind us, and is the basis for survival of all mankind. Hope that States will help us to adopt the declaration as it stands.

18. Ms. Pauline Tangiora: States that there is an acknowledgment of Mr. Urrutia's leadership in helping the Working Group to adopt the draft declaration. Appeals to the Working Group to adopt the draft because there are indigenous peoples suffering daily while negotiations continue. Says that the draft declaration is a minimum standard, but the draft must be adopted in order to protect indigenous peoples. Urges imperative dialogue with States, but says that indigenous peoples should not be classified as subjects to the States if any fair progress is to be made. Recommends for States to not only listen, but be brave enough to accept this declaration in order to move forward toward respect for all peoples.

19. Representative of the Association for International Peace: Welcomes the fact that an understanding is being built between indigenous peoples and governments. Says that governments have traditionally tended to turn a deaf ear to demands of indigenous and other peoples. This policy of indifference is unreasonable and calls for many unanswered questions. Condemns the fact that many indigenous peoples are retained under their authority by force and that land rights have not been respected. Asks simply for indigenous peoples to be considered as fully fledged citizens and human beings.

20. Representative of the People's Republic of China: Reiterates their position, the Chinese government in drafting has always taken a positive attitude and hope that progress can be made in this session. Stresses that it is important to clearly define the term indigenous peoples. The declaration is an international instrument, and all such instruments should clearly state the subject of its protection, without such a definition application will be difficult. Aware that divergent views exist on the concept of indigenous peoples. States that the declaration is only the beginning for the protection of indigenous peoples, and hopes that in the near future it is possible that could draft a Convention for the protection of indigenous peoples rights. Reiterates that if the question of application could be settled now it would rid us of obstacles for future work and promote progress in the future. Emphasizes that indigenous peoples must be recognized by their resident country, self definition is inoperable, and would cause the declaration to lose its significance.

21. Mr. Jose Urrutia: States that the representative from the People’s Republic of China is the last speaker for the morning session. Adjourns the meeting and reminds the Working Group that informal sessions will begin in the afternoon.

Tuesday, October 28, 1997
Day 2, Afternoon Session


1. Mr. Jose Urrutia, Chairman: Calls to order the first informal meeting of the third session of the Working Group established in accordance with the Commis