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nettime: Indigenous peoples walk out at UN

URGENT ALERT - This press release and the following
messages have been issued from Geneva with a call for
support from around the world.  Please redistribute this
message through your networks, send faxes of support to
0041 22 917 03 34, and contact your government, state
department/indigenous affairs, and put pressure on to
strengthen the position of the Indigenous Nations and
Peoples in Geneva that the Draft Declaration be adopted in
its entirety.

Please send us your support by fax immediately so that we
can carry and present your support and rights:

Fax:    0041 22 917 03 34


PRESS STATEMENT:  22 OCTOBER 1996 2:00 P.M. at the United Nations in Geneva

for more information contact:
fax: 0041 22 917 03 34

Indigenous Peoples Representatives Walk Out Of the UN Inter-Sessional
Working Group on the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous 
A unanimous mass walk out by Indigenous Nations and Peoples was provoked
today in Geneva, Switzerland at a U.N. meeting on the rights of Indigenous
Peoples.  After two days of discussions Indigenous participants agreed to
present a proposal to the chairman of the Inter-sessional Working Group on
the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, suggesting that
the existing Draft Declaration be immediately adopted without changes or

After the proposal was presented by Mr. Moana Jackson of the Maori
delegation, it was simply ignored by the chairman and state
representatives.  Several attempts to reintroduce the proposal by other
Indigenous delegates were also dismissed by the chair. Indigenous
delegations immediately left the proceedings. Indigenous delegations
refused to enter into a colonial process designed to allow states to dilute
and change the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
After twelve years spent by Indigenous Peoples developing a Draft
Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UN member states are now
trying to frame the debate on the basis of antiquated notions of state and
individual rights. Such a framework cannot encompass and protect the
collective rights of Indigenous Peoples. The UN Charter itself defines the
collective rights of peoples as the inherent "right of self-determination"
by which "they freely determine their political status and freely pursue
their economic, social and cultural development."

Over the past 20 years, the international Indigenous Peoples movement has
worked toward the development of new standards in international law and
human rights to take into account the rights of Indigenous Nations and
Peoples.  The inherent right of self determination of Indigenous Peoples as
expressed in article 3 of the UN Draft Declaration is continually being
denied by states.  Indeed, states continue to define the rights of
Indigenous Peoples in colonial terms.  Indigenous representatives are
frustrated that state governments are attempting to diminish the substance
of the Draft Declaration in a process not scheduled to be completed until
the year 2004. Some states have said they will only recognize individual
rights in the declaration they are going to draft.  These and other factors
remain major points of disagreement between states and Indigenous Nations
and Peoples.

The mass walk out leaves state government representatives in the
embarrassing position of drafting their own declaration on the rights of
Indigenous people without Indigenous participation or consent.  After the
Indigneous Peoples' walkout, several state representatives requested
negotiations in an effort to bring Indigenous representation back into the


Numerous other documents and statements that have been generated in Geneva
on this issue in the last 2 days have been posted at:

The full text of the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples can be reviewed at:



Contact People:
Latin America:  Marcelo Orellana
Coordinacion Peublos Indigenos Cento y Sud America
Pacific Region: Moana Sinclair, Te Kawau Maro
North America: Steve Newcomb, Indigenous Law Institute
East Asia: Boris Voyer, International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs.


fax: 0041 22 917 03 34

Net Warriors
Kekula P. Bray-Crawford, Pacific Peoples Indigenous Organization 
Lori Pourier, Indigenous Womens Network
Crystal Echohawk, Indigenous Womens Network
Steve Newcomb, Indigenous Law Institute

 Carl Michael von Hausswolff
 Roslagsgatan 58, S-113 54 Stockholm, Sweden
 tel: +46 (0)8  612 27 03
 fax: +46 (0)8 16 83 39

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