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States Betray 400 Million Indigenous Peoples

Press Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Delegation to the UN WSIS Geneva 11 December 2003

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States Betray The Worlds 400 Million Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous delegations from the four corners of the world arrived in Geneva to learn that States have once again betrayed their agreements to address the central concerns of Indigenous Peoples.

Language in earlier drafts contained specific references to the right of Indigenous Peoples to fundamental freedoms and human rights protections had been deleted from the documents. In addition, references providing that Indigenous Peoples have the right to protection of their collective intellectual property and traditional knowledge had also disappeared from the current WSIS Plan of Action.

States have also deleted the term "Indigenous Peoples" from section C8 of the Plan of Action covering cultural diversity, identity, linguistic diversity and local content. The current language in the WSIS Plan of Action allows the wholesale theft, commodification and commercialisation of indigenous knowledge and genetic and biological diversity without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous Peoples who are the guardians of these cultural resources and the owners of traditional knowledge.

The language in the WSIS Plan of Action will facilitate biopiracy and further marginalize the millions of Indigenous Peoples who live in extreme poverty without electricity or any infrastructure for ICT.

We urge all States, human rights groups and civil society NGOs to help lobby for changes to the Plan of Action to reinsert the protective language that has been deleted.

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