NAIPC Calls for Cancellation of the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples

Republished from Cultural Survival, March 5, 2014,

Dear Ambassadors,

On behalf of the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus (NAIPC) to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which convened in Kamloops (Secwepemc Territory), British Columbia, Canada on March 1-2, 2014, and including our representatives to the Global Coordinating Group for the High Level Plenary Meeting/World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (HLPM/WCIP), we transmit to you the following consensus document:

The North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus operates from the foundational principle that every deliberation, decision or document, by any entity, that fundamentally affects us, our territories, our interests, or our future generations, must include our full, equal and effective participation. This principle applies no less to the decisions and organs of the United Nations than it does to any other entity.

The United Nations is duty bound to honor and to respect the fundamental rights of all peoples, as embodied in the UN Charter, the Human Rights Covenants, UN Conventions (including ILO Convention 169) and Declarations, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). On 21 December 2010, in A/Res/65/198, the General Assembly decided “to organize a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held in 2014.”

Indigenous Peoples around the globe, including NAIPC, were clear that any such high plenary meeting would obtain the approval and participation of Indigenous peoples only if the condition of equal, full and effective participation by indigenous Peoples was assured by the United Nations. The condition of equal and effective participation was particularly crucial regarding the drafting, production and dissemination of any outcome document that emerged from the HLPM/WCIP .

The publication of General Assembly Resolution 66/296 of 15 October 2012, hereinafter “The Modalities Resolution,” created deep concern within NAIPC that the structure of the HLPM, and the outcome document were not respectful of the principle of full and equal participation by Indigenous Peoples. Numerous Indigenous nations, organizations and individuals expressed their disappointment to the President of the General Assembly (PGA), and to various state members. Despite its concerns, NAIPC decided to move forward with its participation in the Global Indigenous Preparatory Meeting in Alta, Norway, 10-12 June 2013. The Alta Outcome document affirmed four major themes to be addressed by the HLPM, and reiterated that “the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples to participate fully in decision-making that affects us, will continue to guide and frame our work for the HLPM/WCIP.”

Inspired by the collaborations achieved at Alta, NAIPC continued to consider its possible role in the HLPM/WCIP, until the PGA’s Aide Memoir of 26 February 2014. In his communiqué, PGA Ashe made it clear that he was not going to advance the principle of full and equal participation by indigenous peoples in the HLPM/WCIP. The position of the PGA neither respects nor advances the rights of Indigenous Peoples that are embodied in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As a consequence of the Aide Memoire, the NAIPC adopted, by absolute consensus, the following resolution at its meeting of 1-2 March 2014:

NAIPC will engage other regions and caucus to move toward a global consensus on the cancellation of the HLP also known as the WCIP. The following text is the consensus position reached by the NAIPC calling for the cancellation of the High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM) to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP):

In March of 2013, at the NAIPC meeting at Sycuan, we established, through consensus, standards of analysis and review regarding the proposed UN high-level plenary meeting (HLPM), also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP). These standards were applied by the North American delegation at the meeting in Alta, Norway in June of 2013. The bedrock of the NAIPC position regarding Indigenous Peoples participation in the HLPM is that participation must be FULL and EQUAL. We decided last March that we would revisit the question of the HLPM at the 2014 NAIPC meeting, and decide upon any further participation in planning or participating in the HLPM.

In the months following the Alta meeting and in particular on February 26, 2013, the President of the General Assembly (PGA), has made it clear in an Aide Memoir that equal and effective participation by Indigenous Peoples WILL NOT occur at the HLPM. Therefore, the NAIPC conditions that were established at Sycuan, and that were reiterated at Alta, have not been respected and have been ignored by the PGA. Given this chain of events, and given the short timeline between now and the scheduled HLPM, we do not foresee our conditions for participation as equals in the HLPM being met.

Therefore, the NAIPC calls for the immediate cancellation of the HLPM by the UN General Assembly. We also call on the state of Mexico to cancel its planned technical meeting to begin drafting the outcome document for the HLPM-WCIP; we call on the UNPFII to cancel any further participation and additional preparatory or advisory meetings for the HLPM. Additionally, NAIPC advances the position throughout Great Turtle Island, and to the world's Indigenous Peoples, to call for the cancellation of the HLPM, and to withhold any and all support and participation. We call for the withdrawal of any support, active or tacit, for the HLPM by Indigenous Peoples anywhere in the world.

By consensus the above text was agreed upon and it was decided that the NAIPC will call for cancellation of the HLPM and withdraw from the Global Coordinating Group of the HLPM/WCIP.

Debra Harry and Kenneth Deer, the two NAIPC representatives to the GCG will go to New York to deliver this message to a group of states on Tuesday March 4th, after which time the NAIPC formally withdraws from the GCG.

Approved by acclamation. North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus (NAIPC) to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, convened in Kamloops (Secwepemc Territory), British Columbia, Canada, Sunday, March 2, 2014

Submitted on behalf of all our relations – past, present and future.

Debra Harry Janice Makokis

Co-Coordinators, North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus.