Statement of the Indigenous Peoples and Nations Coalition to the Organization of American States’ 48th General Assembly

June 3, 2018
Brooklyn Rivera
American Council of Indigenous Peoples
Washington, D.C.

Secretary General, Ambassadors and Distinguished Guests of the Organization of American States.

Thank you for this opportunity to address you on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples and Nations Coalition here today. We believe there are several important steps the OAS must take toward securing Indigenous rights and advancing implementation of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. First, the OAS should establish an implementing body to monitor states’ compliance with the Declaration.

To be effective, the mandate of this implementing body should include the ability to do the following:

1) produce reports about the implementation of the Declaration, and monitor, address, and help resolve situations affecting the rights protected under the Declaration;
2) assist states in matters such as: land demarcation and titling, registry of Indigenous territories, and repatriation of artifacts and human remains;
3) facilitate dialogue between Indigenous Peoples and states to resolve serious problems;
4) research and report on major issues, such as Indigenous Peoples’ right to subsurface resources.

It is essential that the mechanism be developed in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples.

Second, the OAS should, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, adopt new rules to ensure Indigenous Peoples, represented through their own decision-making institutions, are afforded a regular and permanent status to enable them to participate in the OAS and to directly engage with the member states and other regional actors. Indigenous Peoples should be present at the OAS to assert and defend their rights, as well as to assist in developing responses to pressing international issues such as climate change, the conservation of biological diversity, and violence against Indigenous women and children.

Third, we propose that the OAS organize a high-level conference between member states and Indigenous peoples in the near future to assess good practices and remaining challenges on progress made toward achieving the goals and objectives of the American Declaration. This high-level conference would provide OAS member states and Indigenous peoples an opportunity to review the first years of implementation of the American Declaration and Plan of Action, with the goal of improving the effectiveness of these documents.

Without intentional, positive steps toward implementation of the American Declaration, it will not be effective for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Our goal is the development of a robust implementation and monitoring regime, one that allows Indigenous Peoples to engage directly and meaningfully with the OAS, member states, and civil society.

To ensure effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all OAS endeavors the OAS must provide adequate funding and technical assistance to Indigenous peoples.

Finally, we are mindful of the fact that as we speak today, Indigenous leaders are being criminalized and killed for defending their lands and ways of life. The Declaration guarantees our rights to our lands, territories and natural resources, and to be free form all forms of violence.

¡Nunca más las Américas sin los Pueblos Indígenas!