We, the representatives of organizations of the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, participating in the Consultation around the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Organization of American States, held on October 14 and 15, 2003, declare the following to the general public of Guatemala and internationally:

1. We are a diverse group of indigenous organizations and institutions that have come together to familiarize ourselves with the process of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the framework of the Working Group of the Organization of American States - OAS, and with the progress of discussions on that draft declaration. The consultation is being conducted in the framework of strengthening direct, ongoing participation in order to transmit our concerns to regional and international entities that have initiated processes aimed at recognizing and protecting our fundamental rights and freedoms.

2. We, the organizations of the Indigenous Peoples, attribute the greatest importance to the Draft American Declaration. We make a commitment to actively participate in the process and in drafting the instrument, with the aim of having the recognition and protection of our fundamental collective rights and freedoms prevail.

3. The consultation is a continuation of the dialogue and analysis process that took place during the years 1997 and 2001 in Guatemala. In that sense, the indigenous organizations and representatives, who are the parties affected by the draft declaration, forcefully reiterate the right of all Indigenous Peoples to fully participate both in drafting the contents of the Declaration’s text and in all aspects of the process within the sphere of the Inter-American system.

4. In the Consultation, we have considered two fundamental aspects: a the process of "negotiations" in the Working Group, for its upcoming meetings on the Draft American Declaration and, b) the consolidated text, GT/DADIN/doc.139/03, a document of the Chairman of the Working Group.

5. With respect to the "negotiations" for the Draft Declaration process, as foreseen by the Working Group, we believe that limitations are still present that impede a full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples for discussions on the contents of the documents proposed. Some of the limitations include a failure, on the part of the governments, to comply with the resolution adopted at the General Assembly held in Chile in June 2003. That resolution called on governments to hold national consultations with the Indigenous Peoples. In this sense, there is an urgent need for consultations among the Indigenous Peoples, in order to unify perspectives and content for this instrument. There is also a need to establish avenues for communication and information sharing regarding the text proposed by the Chairman of the Working Group and other proposals.

6. Upon carefully analyzing the text adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR), 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 from the chairman of the Working Group, it is noted by the organizations of the 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 effect on all other collective rights contained in the Draft Declaration.

b) We, the organizations of the Indigenous Peoples note that the text presented by the chairman of the Working Group fails to include the full recognition of territorial rights, as well as participation and the use of the resources of the soil and subsoil.

c) We, the organizations of the Indigenous Peoples, recommend that the text adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR), continue to be the reference point for engaging in dialogue and furthermore, that the proposals submitted by the indigenous organizations to the Working Group in previous sessions be taken into account.

7. We, the organizations of the Indigenous Peoples, encourage the Working Group to continue examining the texts and to intensify the dialogue between the indigenous representatives and the governmental delegations, with a view towards definitively recognizing the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Indigenous Peoples.

8. We, the organizations of the Indigenous Peoples, underscore the importance of the Draft American Declaration. We also consider it important to take as long as necessary to draft and adopt this declaration.

9. We, the organizations of the Indigenous Peoples, have the firm conviction that the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must enjoy due legitimacy, which inescapably calls for the full, active participation of the Indigenous Peoples, who are those affected by that instrument.

Iximmulew Oxi’Kan,
Kaji’ E Guatemala, October 15, 2003

Kichin Konojel, Indigenous Program of the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH), Defensoría Maya, Oxlajú Ajpop, COMG, COMACH, Consejo Sami Maya, Ministry of Culture, Maya Consultant Commission, FODIGUA, Cholsamaj, UDEM, Kaji’ E Educational Program, Indigenous Peoples Program of the Human Rights Ombusdman’s Office of Guatemala, Association of Mayan Writers of Guatemala, Department of Indigenous Peoples of the Ministry of Labor, Coordinating Association for Integral Mayan Development, the Communities of Resistance of the Ixcán, ASODEC Q’ezaltenam-Ixil, the Presidential Commission against Racism and Discrimination, CONIC, USAC, the Congress of the Republic, CISMA, and CEDIM.


Statement from the American Indian Law Alliance
June 10, 2003

The new consolidated text contains some highly disturbing new provisions relating to self-determination which are totally inconsistent with Art. 1 of the human rights Covenants and are leading to a discriminatory double standard concerning the right of self-determination under international law. Since the English translation of the Chair's consolidated text is not available as of yet, we are including below an unofficial translation of the articles relating to self-determination. We feel that this matter is highly important also for the UN process. We will forward you the official English version of the Chair's consolidated text as soon as it is available.


Article III.

Within States, the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination is recognized, by virtue of which they may define their forms of organization and pursue their economic, social and cultural development. [unofficial translation

Article IV.

Nothing in this Declaration shall be understood as authorizing or encouraging any action aimed at violating or harming, completely or partially, the territorial integrity, the sovereignty, and the political independence of States, nor other principles enshrined in the Charter of the Organization of the American States. [unofficial translation]

Article XX. The right to self government

1. Indigenous peoples, in exercising the right to self-determination within States, have the right to autonomy or self-government with regard to, among others, culture, language, spirituality, education, information, media, health, housing, employment, social welfare, maintenance of community security, family relations, economic activities, land and resource management, the environment and entry by non-members; and to determine ways and means for financing these autonomous functions. [unofficial translation

For purposes of comparison:

Art. 1(1) of the Human Rights Covenants:

1. All 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.



Index of Draft American Declaration | History | Proposed American Declaration | Working Document Comparing Proposed Declaration | Dialogue 2001 | Journey to the Summit | Third Summit of the Americas 2001 | Dialogue 2002 | Dialogue 2003 | Negotiations with Indigenous Representatives 2003 | Second Meeting of Negotiations 2004 | Third Meeting of Negotiations 2004 | Consolidated Text of Draft Declaration | Interactive Version of Consolidated Text

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