Statement by the Delegation of the United States
Delivered by Eric N. Richardson
Human Rights Council 21st Session
Geneva, September 18, 2012
Thank you Madame President. The United States would like to use this time with Special Rapporteur Anaya and the EMRIP independent experts to offer our thoughts on a topic of much interest: the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. The General Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the modalities of the World Conference in New York yesterday.
The United States has spoken in support of broad and meaningful participation in the World Conference for indigenous peoples’ representatives, and there are ample opportunities for that. Firstly, indigenous peoples will be involved in the preparatory process, for which there are several options. One option is to have preparatory commissions in the five UN regions, with the regional economic commissions holding meetings. Another option is to hold prepcoms in the seven indigenous regions – Africa, Arctic, Asia, Latin America, North America, Pacific, and Russian-speaking – so that indigenous representatives can caucus with each other, and exchange views with Member State governments, in those locations. A third option is to hold prepcoms in Geneva or New York. The modalities resolution adopted yesterday in New York requests the President of the General Assembly to organize, no later than June 2014, an informal interactive hearing during which indigenous peoples’ representatives would provide input to the preparatory process. In addition, other regional coordination meetings will take place before 2014.
Secondly, the United States supports inclusive input to the World Conference, both before and during the meeting, from stakeholders who cannot be present in person. A mechanism for gathering input – either in written, electronic, pre-recorded, telephonic, or other format from indigenous peoples and others – would be useful, as some indigenous representatives may not be able to afford traveling to New York.
Thirdly, we support concurrent roundtables at the World Conference, with indigenous representatives sitting at the table alongside member state representatives. Roundtable themes need not be limited to the Declaration. Possible topics include Tribal self-determination and governance; Lands, resources, the environment, and economic development; Cultures of indigenous peoples, including education; Consultation with and participation from indigenous peoples on issues affecting them; and Business and its impacts on indigenous peoples. All roundtables should include a discussion of current best practices.
The United States thinks there could be two documents that come of out of this Conference. The first would be a concise, action-oriented outcome document containing targeted, concrete proposals on protecting the collective rights of indigenous peoples and human rights of indigenous individuals. As the World Conference is a high-level meeting, and the outcome document is one that ministers will agreed to, it is the role of member states to negotiate and adopt the outcome document. The negotiations, however, would take into consideration the indigenous peoples’ input from the preparatory process and the World conference itself; the written and electronic input; and the roundtables. The second document would consist of the summaries of the roundtable and panel discussions presented at the closing plenary session. The presentations of representatives of indigenous groups will be included in those summaries.
Thank you for your attention. The United States looks forward to further discussions to clarify the modalities of the World Conference.