A New Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Photo: Ambassador Jennifer Loten and President Chartier

Santo Domingo, June 15, 2016 – Today, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The process to arrive at the American Declaration began with an OAS resolution in 1989, followed by a meeting of experts and representatives of Indigenous peoples in Mexico City in January 1991.

“I have waited a long time for the adoption of this American Declaration”, stated President Chartier, “as I was one of a handful of Indigenous representatives who met in Mexico City with Ambassador Robinson and Osvaldo Kreimer of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS to begin the process which finally ended with the adoption of the American Declaration today.”

While the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly, covers Indigenous and human rights of Indigenous peoples world-wide, the American Declaration which is complementary to that Declaration, is crafted to address some of the situations specific to the Americas such as upholding the true spirit and intent of Treaties entered into with First Nations in Canada.

The final stage of serious negotiations began in 2003 and after nineteen (19) negotiation sessions ending on May 19th of this year, the draft Declaration was at a stage of either going forward for adoption or simply dropped. Those Indigenous representatives who stuck with the process and persevered through the trying moments of the negotiations opted to support the adoption, rather than losing the opportunity to secure the best deal possible and lose all the time, effort and expense which went into making this Declaration a reality.

“It was a long and difficult road to arrive at this Declaration, but with the struggle of many Indigenous peoples in the Americas, failure or rejection was not an option, as the situation of Indigenous peoples in many countries in the Americas are dire and they need all of the encouragement and support which the Declaration can provide, at least at the political, moral and policy levels” stated President Chartier, concluding by stating: “Over the years I dedicated to the Indigenous struggle in South and Central American, having personally witnessed the use of armed force against Indigenous peoples, I am convinced that they cannot be asked to wait any longer while every conceivable point of view or interest is addressed in the Declaration. They do not have the luxury of such deliberation and perfection.”


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