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Indigenous Caucus Press Statement
2 September 2001
From the NGO Forum of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), Durban, South Africa.
The Indigenous Peoples call in this WCAR for building a new relation with States and their governments, in order to define means of coexistence grounded in respect for our freedom and self-determination for social, cultural, spiritual and linguistic diversity and diversity of territorial and organizational arrangements among Indigenous Peoples and between us and States.
The caveat paragraph (Paragraph 27) of the official WCAR State Declaration is a manifestation of racism against Indigenous Peoples and constitutes a racist attack by the United Nations on the rights of Indigenous peoples. We demand that the paragraph be deleted in its entirety. Furthermore, any qualification of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination is racist and is contrary to the fundamental principles of international law.
Paragraph 27 states
"The use of the term, 'indigenous peoples' in the World Conference Against Racism, Racial discrimination, xenophobia and Related Intolerance cannot be construed as having any implications under international law. Any reference to rights associated with the term 'indigenous peoples' is in the context of ongoing multilateral negotiations of texts that specifically deal with such rights, and is without prejudice to the outcome of those negotiations."
Cloaked in technical jargon, Indigenous peoples are being told that inhere in "all peoples" do not inhere to us. We are being told that our status and human rights are as peoples are not recognized, respected or applicable. Indigenous Peoples are not being recognized as equals among peoples of the world . rather we are discriminated against.
In Paragraph 27, the UN is contradicting the rulings of its own human rights Committee- the UN juridical body that rules on State party compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Human Rights Committee has explicitly recognized Indigenous peoples as peoples in international law.
If Paragraph 27 remains in the Declaration, or if the Declaration contained any language that derogates from the rights of Indigenous Peoples as peoples in international law, the U.N. will be guilty of practicing and perpetuating discrimination within its own processes.
We demand the sovereign Member States gathered in this WCAR to delete
paragraph 27in its entirety. This discriminatory provision, which is a
manifestation of racism itself, was proposed by the United States of
America government. This deletion would be consistent with the legitimate
and fundamental rights of the Indigenous Peoples.