This morning Indigenous Peoples' representatives formally withdrew from the meeting of the Working Group on Protected Areas of the international Convention on Biological Diversity to protest the suppression of their effective participation at the meeting, being held this week 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 Kadazan People of Malaysia read a statement, the indigenous delegation and some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) 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 [on mobilisation of financial resources for protected areas]. 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 and effective participation which contravenes prior decisions of the Parties," said Onel Masardule and 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."
Statement read by Jannie Lasimbang on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB)
Thank you Mr Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen
Over the last fifteen years indigenous peoples have been participating in the CBD process contributing to its work and implementation with the best of our experiences, knowledge and will. Our efforts have been recognized on many occasions and we therefore have been able to participate and contribute to the deliberations and positive outcomes. Throughout this time we have been able to express our views and concerns regarding our fundamental rights, which are a critical aspect of biological diversity and conservation and of the international obligations of all state Parties.
The CBD calls for full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the implementation and processes of the Convention, at the national, regional and international levels (goal 4.3 of the Strategic Plan and 2010 Biodiversity Target). As you may be aware, COP 5 formally recognized the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity as an advisory body of the CBD. Furthermore, Decision 8/24 stressed the need for the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities respecting fully their rights consistent with national law and applicable international obligations.
Mr. chairman, we have made great efforts to be part of this process. However, it is with great disappointment that right from the beginning of this WGPA-2 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 we were silenced at a critical moment of providing our contributions to the deliberations on the recommendations on implementation of the Programme of Work. Further, despite your assurances, Mr. Chairman, that all recommendations would be included in the 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.
Mr. Chairman, in view of this unacceptable censoring, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity expresses its strong protest at this treatment and has unanimously decided to leave this process which clearly does not respect our rights and participation. We refuse to participate in a process that is making decisions over our lives and yet expects us to be silent observers.
We will be considering further appropriate measures. We have been advised by several NGOs that we also have their support on our decision.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Contacts: Hortencia Hidalgo - Ramiro Batzin