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11 Apr 12

Final Statement and Question  from Indigenous Peoples Major  Group

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UNCSD Dialogue

Indigenous peoples reiterate the use of the term “indigenous peoples” as they oppose the use of “indigenous and local communities” in the Zero Draft for Rio +20.


Meeting/Dialogue of the UNCSD/Rio+20 Bureau with the Major Groups

 27 March 2012, ECOSOC Chamber, NLB-UN, New York


Arising from the use of different terms referring to INDIGENOUS PEOPLES in the Zero Draft (indigenous people, indigenous peoples, indigenous farmers, indigenous communities), a proposal had been tabled during the negotiations to change all references to “indigenous peoples” to “indigenous and local communities”.  And yesterday, we heard that specific language in the Zero Draft will be further reviewed.

In the course of many issues confronting Indigenous Peoples concerning sustainable development, the eradication of poverty, green economy and protecting our Mother Earth for future generations, this original proposal can not be supported by our Indigenous Peoples Major Group.

The expression of “indigenous and local communities” does not identify us properly. It is contrary to Agenda 21 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The internationally accepted term in human rights instruments and sustainable development processes is “indigenous peoples”.

It is inappropriate to transpose language from the Convention on Biological Diversity which deals with traditional knowledge of “indigenous and local communities” to the Rio+20 negotiations, when Agenda 21 has identified Indigenous Peoples as one of the major groups. In 2002, State leaders in the WSSD meeting in Johannesburg stated  We reaffirm the vital role of the indigenous peoples in sustainable development.” (Paragraph 25 of the Johannesburg Political Declaration on Sustainable Development.)

Under international law, and many countries’ domestic law, Indigenous Peoples have  recognized legal status distinct from other local communities. Self-identification is a recognized collective right of indigenous peoples.  The UN Conference on Sustainable Development needs to respect and uphold this right to be identified as indigenous peoples, and not undermine our human and collective rights.

Indigenous peoples face this problem of potential misidentification arising from the informal negotiations. Can the Bureau confirm that “Indigenous Peoples”  is the correct designation of our major group, in the light of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Political Declaration, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?