Monday, August 13, 2007

Guyana's Government Continues to Oppose UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights

From the Stabroek News, Georgetown, Guyana:

Gov't has doubts on parts of UN indigenous peoples rights declaration
Saturday, August 11th 2007

Two Amerindian groups are calling on the Government of Guyana to vote in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when it comes up before the UN General Assembly next month but Minister of Amerindian Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues says that the government has reservations about some clauses.

In a press release issued on the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, observed on Thursday, the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) and the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) issued the call while expressing grave disappointment at learning that Guyana had joined six other states in asking for the declaration to be redrafted.

"This represents a most retrograde step on the part of Guyana and those states which have taken this position. We are dismayed that Guyana has aligned itself with this small group of states which are proposing that one-sided changes are made to a vital document that constitutes the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well being of indigenous peoples," the statement said

Contacted by Stabroek News, Minister Rodrigues said that Guyana is not asking for the entire declaration to be redrafted but would like to see some issues defined. She said that Guyana supports a declaration that is very clear and is of ultimate benefit to everyone, while also preserving national unity. She said there are some sections that Guyana thinks should be looked at again and one is that there is no clear declaration as to who is an indigenous person and who the name applies to. She also pointed out that a declaration can be made and some countries wouldn't do anything about it but that Guyana has a good record in honouring its commitments.

Rodrigues pointed out that indigenous peoples in different countries are different. She noted that charity begins at home and according to her some of the issues Guyana has already addressed in relation to indigenous peoples can be used as examples for other countries. "We want to have a declaration that we can work with and so there are issues that need to be clarified," the minister said.

GOIP and the APA said they are "gravely concerned" at Guyana voting for a redraft of the declaration taking into consideration that GOIP had written to the president and in a response Minister Rodrigues said that the Government is "fully supportive of a process that would result in a declaration that is unambiguous, preserves national unity and ultimately improves the lot of the world's indigenous peoples."

The two groups are convinced that the declaration which was adopted by the Human Rights Council of the UN in June 2006 represents the most important international instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights for indigenous peoples and fits the criteria that the government says it supports. "We are therefore utterly dismayed that the government has suddenly taken this extreme position."

1 comment:

Peter N. Jones said...

This is very important, and I'm glad to see it here. Most people only know about Canada, Australia, the U.S., and Brazil opposing the U.N. Declaration. It is important to let people know that Guyana is also in this boat. I've talked about the Declaration a couple of times on the Indigenous Issues Today website. The more people know, the better.