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Friday, May 02, 2008

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Source: Economic & Social Council - UN.ORG

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Discuss Ways to More Effectively Promote Countries Implementation of Declaration on Rights

Delegates Underscore Need for National Governments to Protect People over Profits

Monday 28 April 2008

ROMY THACH, speaking for the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation, said the district of Svay Tong in the province of Mouat Chrouk had recently been the scene of acts of terror targeting indigenous peoples. Even as the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals approached, the rights of Viet Nam’s indigenous peoples were being neglected. Viet Nam must realize that the implementation of the Declaration was imperative if the Goals were to be achieved. The Permanent Forum should lead a collaborative initiative that would include exact deadlines to foster Viet Nam’s recognition of indigenous peoples such as the Khmer Krom and the Montagnards. The Forum should insist that Viet Nam, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, cooperate more fully with United Nations human rights mechanisms. It should also address inquiries by the United Nations special rapporteurs on issues of religious intolerance, torture, indigenous peoples and arbitrary detention.

PHAM HAI ANH ( Viet Nam) said his delegation respected the work of the Permanent Forum and had participated actively in its work by providing all relevant information about its efforts to achieve equality of life for every citizen. However, the Forum’s work should be based on accurate and credible information. Unfortunately, it had not always been provided with that type of information. Viet Nam strongly rejected the participation of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation and the Montagnard Foundation, both of which operated outside Viet Nam and pursued a separatist agenda. Their participation wasted precious time that could be better spent helping indigenous peoples around the world. Viet Nam also strongly supported implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in the Montagnard districts and the United Nations had recognized its work in doing so.

In response, the Chairperson stressed the reality that some indigenous peoples were in exile from their countries, and suggested that the Special Rapporteur investigate that situation as the Permanent Forum lacked the capacity to do so at present. The Chair welcomed, however, the rights of individual countries to appear before the Forum to raise issues about the veracity of any statement or report. That was, of course, part of the important dialogue on the situation of indigenous peoples, which was the role and entire point of the Forum.

Closing Statement

RODOLFO STAVENHAGEN, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, expressed solidarity with and best wishes for success to his successor, James Anaya, noting that the intense activity brought to the Forum’s dialogue would bear fruit for the indigenous peoples of the world. The mechanisms of United Nations agencies, including the Forum, the office of the Special Rapporteur and the Human Rights Council, would be more effectively used to promote the rights of indigenous communities.

One of the most important mechanisms that could be employed to that end would be the presentation of complaints, accusations and statements about the situation of indigenous peoples, he said. Without that opportunity, the international community had no way of really finding out what was going on. There were too many filters that did not allow such information to circulate. Both in the Forum and in the Human Rights Council, when some Government delegations were directly confronted with an accusation, they completely rejected the groups making the accusations. Nonetheless, the Forum was a place where those types of groups could meet together.

He said that, over the years, he had sent out more than 200 communiqués to different Governments on the basis of documents, complaints and statements. Unfortunately, some Governments had not responded, while others had simply stated that they had received the information. Very few investigated each situation and complaint, much less dealt with them. While the Forum and the Office of the Special Rapporteur were not legal mechanisms, they provided opportunities for dialogue. It was to be hoped that the Forum would continue to be a place to meet and discuss the issues of indigenous populations, perhaps becoming a joint quest for a solution to the problems raised.

Concluding today’s dialogue, the Chair thanked Mr. Stavenhagen for his service as Special Rapporteur and offered best wishes to his successor, Mr. Anaya, while also thanking Mr. Littlechild and Ms. Nicolaisen for their active involvement in preparing the documents for the current session. Mr. Littlechild presented a token of appreciation to Mr. Stavenhagen in the form of a traditional vest from the Cree Nation.


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