Section One: Scope of Application
1. This Declaration applies to the indigenous peoples of the Americas and
their members, who within the national States descend from a native
culture that predates European colonization and who conserve their
fundamental distinctive features, such as their language, normative
systems, usages and customs, artistic expressions, beliefs, and social,
economic, cultural, and political institutions.
2. Self-identification as indigenous peoples will be a fundamental
criterion for determining to whom this Declaration applies. The States
shall ensure respect for self-identification as indigenous, individually
and collectively, in keeping with the institutions of each indigenous
The States recognize the multiethnic and multicultural character of their
Within the States, the right to self-determination of the indigenous
peoples is recognized, pursuant to which they can define their forms of
organization and promote their economic, social, and cultural development.
PROPOSAL BY THE INDIGENOUS CAUCUS November 10, 2003
Recommends that Article III be replaced with the following:
Indigenous peoples have the right of self- determination. By
virtue of that right they freely determine their political status
and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
November 10, 2003 - Second Session
I am a citizen of the Seneca Nation and will address this
forum today on behalf of the Haudenosaunee.
Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador for this opportunity to speak
We offer the following consideration: in Article III, The Right to
Self-Determination we fully concur with the Indigenous Peoples'
Caucus Opening Statement as well as other Indigenous Peoples, and
most recently the delegations from Canada, Guatemala, Nicaragua
and possibly others that supported this statement.
That is, this Article must be articulated as in the UN Draft
Declaration, Article 3 and the UN Covenants, Articles 1. Mr.
Chairman, Section One of the Draft American Declaration does not
describe any rights. It's merely how the Declaration relates to
Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. But this Article on the Rights
of Self-Determination serves as a fundamental principle that
establishes a foundational element that all Indigenous Peoples'
rights flow through.
Indeed the enjoyment of this right is a necessary pre-condition
for the enjoyment of other freedoms and rights. This principle
must then be elaborated in the initial operative section of the
Declaration, Section Two: Human Rights.
Mr. Chairman, the proposal hereby presented is, as follows:
Section Two, Human Rights, Article IV: The Right to Self-
Determination and then the elaboration as described in the
Indigenous text and in the UN documents.
Thank you for this opportunity to address this body today.
American Indian Law Alliance
November 10, 2003
Mr. Chairman, on
behalf of the American Indian Law Alliance, the Grand Council of
the Cree, the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council and Colonial
Hawaii we strongly support the Indigenous Peoples' Caucus
recommendations regarding Article III. I think we would all agree
that this language is global and universal in its perspective than
for Indigenous Peoples there has been no derogation around this
language. Going back to the wording of the Chair's Consolidated
Text, we would respectfully support that Article III be
prominently placed under Section Two: Human Rights. This article
must be fully consistent and reflect the wording in Article 1 of
the International Human Rights Covenants. Mr. Chairman, the
proposed Article III would run counter to the existing affirmative
obligations of States under the Charter of the United Nations,
Articles 1, 2 and 55c, which is to promote universal respect for
and observance of human rights and freedoms based on respect for
the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
States would also fail to honour their legal obligations in
Article I, paragraph 3 of the two international human rights
Covenants. To quote "promote the realization of the right of
self-determination and respect that right in conformity with the
provisions of the Charter of the United Nations."
Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak (thanks) and make special
reference to the Declaration of the Indigenous Peoples of
Guatemala dated October 15, 2003. Paragraph 6 specifically reads,
and I quote, "upon carefully analyzing the text adopted by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as well as the Proposals
made by the Indigenous organizations and the Consolidated Text of
the Working Group's Chairman, we declare that:
a) with respect to the text of the Chairman of the Working Group,
it is noted by the organizations of Indigenous Peoples, that said
proposal restricts and limits the fundamental rights and freedoms
of the Indigenous Peoples, especially the right to
self-determination. The restriction of this right has a
cross-cutting affect on all other collective rights.
Mr. Chairman, we will have more to say when we reach the proposed
revisions to Section Two: Human Rights, and we respectfully ask
your permission to address Article IV a little bit later.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, we would be happy to receive a copy of
Canada's proposed language and would respond accordingly.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Nothing in this Declaration shall be construed so as to authorize or
foster any action aimed at breaking up or diminishing, fully or in part,
the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of the
States, or other principles contained in the Charter of the Organization
of American States.
November 10, 2003 - Second Session
Thank you, Mr. Chair. My intervention
is on the behalf of the Metis National Council, the Haudenosaunee,
the Navajo Nation, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit
Circumpolar Conference, the National Congress of American Indians,
Native American Rights Fund and the Indian Law Resource Center.
We make our intervention at this point because -we have something
we are going to propose to you ---- now being translated into
Spanish and unfortunately didn't have time to have this considered
by the entire caucus because we got caught short on the discussion
that is taking place now.
Where we clearly see the discussion surrounding the notion that
there is a link between Article III and Article IV - or some
States are making that link. And so we felt it's important to make
our intervention now with the provision that we are now sharing
this with the rest of our colleagues in Spanish for their
consideration as well.
We do not see, as I said, III and IV as being linked, and that was
previously stated by our colleague Darwin Hill, who proposed that
Article III be moved to a different section. Accordingly we
propose that Article IV be moved to Section Four under General
Provisions, rather than having it in Section One under the Scope
We acknowledge the role that the principle of territorial
integrity plays within the framework of international law. The OAS
Charter, the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the recent
Declaration on Security in the Americas each affirms this
principle. However the principle of territorial integrity must be
conditioned on respect for the rights of peoples, both indigenous
and non-indigenous to self-determination.
Our proposal, proposed language, adopted by the states of the
Americas and the rest of the members of the UN General Assembly in
the 1970 Declaration on Friendly Relations, the 1993 Vienna
Declaration and the 1995 Declaration on the occasion of the 50th
Anniversary of the UN, that respects the fact that the principle
of territorial integrity cannot be used to violate the rights of
peoples to self-determination.
Therefore we propose this text for an article, for a new article
for Section Four. In our opinion "this Declaration shall be
construed so as to authorize or foster any action aimed at
breaking up or diminishing fully or in part the territorial
integrity, sovereignty and political independence of the States
conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal
rights and self-determination of people and thus, possessed of a
government representing the peoples belonging to the territory
without distinction of any kind."
That's from the Declaration on Principles of International Law
Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation Among States in
Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, General
Assembly Resolution, Vienna Declaration 1993, in UN (papers)
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Thank you, Mr.
As we mentioned before we wanted to address Article IV as well and
just to put a point to it, we very much support the intervention
made by those Indigenous Peoples' representatives stating that it
is necessary to expand, when we talk about nothing shall be
construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would
dismember or impair totally or in part the territorial integrity
of political unity of sovereign and independent states, as is
mentioned by those Indigenous groups as read out by Mr. Belcourt.
It is absolutely essential that such an article go further to talk
about States conducting themselves in compliance with the
principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and
thus possessed of a government representing the peoples belonging
to the territory without distinction of any kind.
That's the type of language Canada would be prepared to support.
We are encouraged that something along those lines has been put
forward by Indigenous Peoples representatives and we hope that
this can be considered by the Indigenous Caucus and that we could
perhaps reach some consensus around similar types of language.
Send us an EMail
with your comments