PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE OEA/Ser.K/XVI
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES GT/DADIN/doc.208/05
7 February 2005
COMMITTEE ON JURIDICAL AND POLITICAL AFFAIRS Original: English
Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
FIFTH NEGOTIATION MEETING IN PURSUIT OF POINTS OF CONSENSUS
(Hall of the Americas, February 7 to 9, 2005)
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CAUCUS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES1/
1. Presented by Jorge Fredrick - Movimiento Indígena de Nicaragua
All that you do to Mother Earth
you do to her children
We are not the ones who weave the universe,
we are but a thread in its tapestry.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CAUCUS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
FIFTH MEETING OF NEGOTIATIONS OF THE WORKING GROUP TO PREPARE
THE DRAFT AMERICAN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Washington D.C., February 7th, 2005
Mr. Luigi R. Einaudi, Acting Secretary General of the Organization of American States,
Ambassador Manuel Maria Cáseres Cardozo, President of the Permanent Council,
Ambassador Juan León, Chair of the Working Group,
Ms. Ana Peña, Vice-Chair of the Working Group,
Dr. Isabel Madariaga of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Distinguished Representatives of the States,
Brothers and Sisters, Distinguished Representatives of Indigenous Peoples:
We, the representatives of the organizations and nations of the Indigenous Peoples of Abya
Ayala, who participate in the Caucus of Indigenous Peoples, greet you respectfully at the Fifth
Meeting of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus of the Working Group to Prepare
the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We thank the Secretariat of the Summit of the Americas and the Specific Fund of voluntary
contributions for the arrangements that make possible the participation of Indigenous Peoples.
We would also like to thank the governments of Finland, the United States, Brazil, Canada and
other donors for their valuable support of that fund.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND REPRESENTATIVES WISH TO EXPRESS THE
Indigenous Peoples continue to suffer the systematic and constant violation of the collective
rights and the theft of our lands, territories and resources. Many of these violations are committed
because of the desire to exploit our natural resources that we have conserved since time
immemorial. The lack of full recognition of our rights started with colonization and it is urgent
that the national and international systems and institutions assume the task of changing this
We are pleased by the processes commenced in international bodies as well as the constitutional
reforms and the recent decisions of the Inter American Court of Human Rights that have been
prompted by our struggles.
Nonetheless, Indigenous Peoples continue to be gravely and adversely affected by the imposition
of projects of supposed development and the creation of conservation areas in indigenous
territories against our will that result in the loss of life, identity and source of sustenance of our
peoples, as well as systematic genocide and ethnocide.
The discussion on lands, territories and resources is intrinsically related to the spirituality of the
Indigenous Peoples of the continent. Indigenous Peoples share a world view of the relationship
between human beings, nature, Mother Earth and the cosmos. It is a holistic concept and a special
form of relationship according to which there is not a brusque separation or dichotomy between
human beings and nature, but rather a dynamic interrelationship. For Indigenous Peoples, this
relationship with Mother Earth is of vital importance, an issue that will be addressed in this
States insist on maintaining concepts such as a mere consultation without ensuring free, prior and
informed consent; public interest which excludes our ways of life and human rights; and the
presumption of state control over our natural resources, such as the rights to the subsurface. For
Indigenous Peoples, these concepts have meant new forms of colonization and theft which have
not allowed for sustainable development, for democracy, nor for dialogue between Indigenous
Peoples and States. Self determination of Indigenous Peoples is crucial for the recognition and
enjoyment of the totality of our human rights, and is necessary for the development of our
We consider that honest, transparent dialogue and the full and effective participation of
Indigenous Peoples are important components for creating mutual understanding and respect
between States and Indigenous Peoples. Taking this into account, we have prepared proposals
which we hope will result in a constructive dialogue and agreements on essential issues for our
REGARDING THE DRAFT AMERICAN DECLARATION, WE STATE THAT IT MUST
1. The recognition of our rights to our lands, territories and resources that we have
historically and traditionally occupied.
2. The recognition of our right to free, prior and informed consent
3. The recognition of our right to the natural resources of the surface and subsurface.
4. The recognition of our territorial rights to protected areas and our cultural and intellectual
5. The recognition of our right to self determination, with which we will achieve equality
and dignity that will guarantee the continuity of our Peoples.
Since the beginning of the process we have demanded that States hold national consultations in
each country on the content of the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples. We view with concern that even though States have made the commitment to hold
consultations, they have not done so.
Mr. President, esteemed delegates, the democratization process that the hemisphere is undergoing
obliges us to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples, who have historically been excluded.
We hope that States will show that they understand that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are an
essential part of the foundation of just and democratic societies.