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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Indigenous Peoples' Voice Censured at UN

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Rome, Feb. 14, 2008 - This morning Indigenous Peoples' representatives formally withdrew from the Working Group on Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity to protest their exclusion from this meeting held at FAO headquarters in the Italian capital. Before leaving the plenary, Indigenous leaders put on symbolic gags and held up protest signs. After Jannie Lasimbang of the Kudasan People of Malaysia read a statement, the indigenous delegation and some Non-Governmental Organizations left the meeting which was suspended upon their departure.

The Indigenous Peoples' statement read: "Mr. Chairman, we have made great efforts to be part of this process. However, it is with great disappointment that from the very beginning of this Working Group on Protected Areas meeting we have found ourselves marginalized and without opportunity to take the floor in a timely manner to express our points of view. Yesterday afternoon at a critical moment, we were silenced from providing our contributions to the deliberations on the recommendations on implementation of the Programme of Work. Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, despite your assurances that all recommendations would be included in the Conference Room Paper (CRP), none of our recommendations were included in CRP2. This is extremely disturbing in light of the relevance of these recommendations to our lives, lands and the effective implementation of the Programme of Work.

"We denounce the denial of Indigenous Peoples' right to full an affective participation which contravenes prior decisions of the Parties," said Onel Masardule y Jannie Lasimbang, Co-Chairs of the Indigenous Peoples' Committee on Conservation of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity which is made up of indigenous leaders from Asia, Africa, Russia, the Pacific, North America and Latin America.

The protest was supported by many NGOs attending the UN meeting who also criticized the negative attitude of the Chair of the Working Group and the collapse of the political space for dialogue. The Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network warned "that the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples not only endangers the democratic processes in the United Nations but also ignores that the General Assembly just approved the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007."

Mrinalini Rai,
Hortencia Hidalgo - Ramiro BatzinComunicación FIIB Email

More background including entire Statement presented at Plenary February 14, 2008:

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