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Cablegate: Third Committee Discusses Indigenous Issues

VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0975 3061424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021424Z NOV 09
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7492
INFO RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3919

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000975

DEPT FOR IO/HR, DRL/MLGA, PRM/PIP, S/GWI

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SOCI UNGA BH MY WS VE CO
SUBJECT: THIRD COMMITTEE DISCUSSES INDIGENOUS ISSUES

1. SUMMARY: Addressing the Committee for the first time as Special
Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous
people, James Anaya said the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples (DRIP), adopted by the General Assembly two years ago,
provided a clear normative framework for promoting and protecting
the rights of indigenous peoples, which had historically been
denied. Representatives from 28 delegates spoke, including several
international organizations. END SUMMARY.

2. Anaya said the DRIP took basic human rights principles that were
applicable to all, and elaborated on them in specific, historical,
cultural, political and social contexts. He described it as a
"fundamentally remedial" instrument that aimed to overcome the
marginalization and discrimination that indigenous peoples had
systematically faced across the world due to colonization, conquest
and dispossession. He focused his work on four areas: 1) promoting
good practices, 2) conducting thematic studies, 3) writing country
reports, and 4) responding to cases of alleged human rights
violations.

3. During the discussion a number of speakers voiced concerns over
the variety of bodies addressing indigenous issues within the UN
system. The U.S. representative suggested that overlapping mandates
could frustrate efforts to address allegations of human rights
abuses. Still others, such as the representative of Belize, who
spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said clarity
was needed on ways that would allow participation of indigenous
peoples in the Organization's work, and in the context of the three
indigenous mechanisms. Malaysia's representative stressed that the
cause of indigenous rights was not assisted by a "de facto" attempt
of the Permanent Forum to change the legal understanding of the DRIP
and its mandates through its General Comment at its May session. He
further said that debate had harmed and delayed acceptance of the
Declaration as a set of principles, ideals and rights that all
Member States could fully accept.

4. The representative of Samoa took the opportunity to officially
announce her Government's decision to formally endorse the DRIP.
She said the decision had been made as a sign of Samoa's commitment
to the human rights of indigenous peoples at both the domestic and
international levels.

5. The delegate from Venezuela said that the seven U.S. military
bases that the Colombian Government was hosting in its territory
further compounded violence against indigenous people. She said
that U.S. troops had immunity under Colombian law and asked if the
Special Rapporteur thought that foreign military presence in
Colombia might compound the negative effects of armed conflict
there. She also asked if the immunity enjoyed by the military and
its civilian contractors would affect the situation in neighboring
countries.

6. Responding, Anaya said he coordinated with the Permanent Forum,
especially in relation to company activity in extractive industries,
because, in its 2008 report, the Permanent Forum had asked him to
look into it.
In regard to the Expert Mechanism, he noted that it had the primary
function of engaging in research-based studies of indigenous
peoples' rights and had used it in that way. He said he was also
working with regional groups, such as the Inter-American Commission
and had sought to pass information to the Commission on cases it was
reviewing for specific allegations of violations.

7. Regarding Venezuela's questions about Columbia, he said he
remained concern about Colombia's indigenous peoples, but would not
comment further, since the report was still being developed and he
continued to be engaged with the Colombian Government.

Rice

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