This was the 13th meeting of the Working Group hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS) to negotiate an American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that can be supported by OAS-member countries and indigenous peoples. The working group is composed of all OAS-member countries and indigenous representatives from throughout the Americas. Center staff participated in the sessions and were on hand to provide legal advice to the Indigenous Peoples Caucus and the Working Group. Following three days of extensive negotiations, consensus was reached on three of the articles of the draft Declaration. Significant progress was made in approving paragraphs of various articles. Participants agreed to continue the dialogue and hope to meet again in 2011.
During the OAS negotiation sessions, the Center coordinated meetings between the Navajo Nation, the Six Nations Confederacy and the State Department to encourage the United States government to re-engage in the OAS process and take a leadership role within the Working Group. A meeting was also coordinated with the White House including representatives from the National Security Council, to brainstorm about the implementation of the UN Declaration.
Various leaders from Mexico, Central and South America also requested meetings with Center staff to discuss new threats facing their communities and to learn more about the Center’s work. At the conclusion of the formal negotiations, the Navajo Nation Washington, D.C office hosted a reception for the Indigenous Peoples Caucus. This was a great opportunity for the all participants to share their views on the OAS process and exchange experiences about the issues facing their communities. Having the opportunity to engage with leaders from the Americas during these meetings is important to our work and we remain committed to supporting the process to have a strong American Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.