26 September 2014
NEW YORK. Norma Maldonado, an indigenous woman from Guatemala, came to New York for her three minutes of intervention space at the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP).
“It was worth it not because of the UN alone but because of the parallel activities initiated by indigenous peoples themselves,” she said.
The conference was attended by some 2,200 indigenous peoples from 100 countries.
Over the past week, the International Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) in partnership with other organizations initiated a forum on engagement with the UN system. It formed a colourful indigenous contingency in the largest climate march in history and participated in the civil society report back forum.
In partnership with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), it also co-organized a People’s General Assembly after the UN meetings.
Beverly Longid, coordinator of IPMSDL, reported that they were able to bring together indigenous activists representing the six global regions.
“We were able to build an international IP movement for self-determination and liberation based on strengthening IP organizations on the mandate for international advocacy,” Longid said.
IPMSDL was also able to convene its International Coordinating Committee composed of representatives from Asia, Pacific, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America.
“Gaining new experiences and having a strengthened organization, IPMSDL is looking forward to the peoples’ summit and march, parallel to the COP in December this year,” Longid added.
Solo el pueblo, salva al pueblo
(Only the people themselves can save the people)
Windel Bolinget from the Philippines lamented that the WCIP is not a real conference of indigenous peoples.
“It is but a high level meeting of the General Assembly of the UN system. It is the unity and perseverance of the indigenous peoples that asserted their space in this assembly. It is the indigenous peoples who should be credited for the achievements recognized in the Outcome Document. The challenge is for governments and corporations to comply with their commitments,” Bolinget said.
The adoption of the Outcome Document is just the formalization of negotiations based on the demands embodied in the Alta Outcome Document of the global meeting initiated and convened by indigenous peoples in June 2013 in Norway.
Among the gains were equal time given for interventions of the governments and the IP’s and formal actions committed to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“Recognizing the rights of IP as peoples and nations, collective right to land, territories and resources and indigenous knowledge, systems and practices are core issues of the historical struggle against systemic oppression of governments,” Bolinget said.
UN commitments short
The IPMSDL, however, criticized that the adopted document did not incorporate all their substantial demands.
“It completely rejected the demands against militarization of communities and political repression. There was no categorical statement on the right to self-determination and no clear mention on the treaties between IP and governments,” it noted.
“There is a need for fundamental and radical change for the indigenous peoples’ rights to be respected, and for the historical violations to be rectified,” said Leborsi Saro Pyagbara, President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People.
Leonard Imbiri, an indigenous leader from West Papua added that “IP doesn’t only confine its struggles within the UN. There is a greater need to strengthen the grassroots and widen international solidarity for self-determination.” ###