August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ben Powless Photos World Climate Conference Bolivia

Photos copyright Ben Powless, Mohawk. World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Photo 1: Bolivian President Evo Morales with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at conference. Photo 2: Chairs of the working group on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, included (L)Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo, and (R) Ofelia Rivas, O'odham.
(To repost or use photos, contact Ben Powless: )
Read the latest news and final declarations from the World Climate Conference:

White Racists Take Over Arizona Lawmaking

Photo: Gov. Jan Brewer after signing SB 1070.
With UN Statement, Backlash to Arizona Goes International
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement Monday in Geneva calling out Arizona for a "disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants." Read more ...
Arizona Republicans Ban Ethnic Studies in Arizona Schools:
From Roberto Rodriguez:
Fifteen of us got arrested yesterday so that the children will learn their history and culture, both at home and in the classroom. The battle is not yet over and I do firmly believe we will triumph. You would have been proud of the hundreds
of middle and high school students, wave after wave that laid siege to first the TUSD headquarters -- to keep Tom Horne out -- and then the state bldg. Our first court date is june 7.
Thanks, Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
DEMOCRACY NOW! 15 Arrested in Tucson Protesting Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies
In other news from Arizona, fifteen people, including several students, were arrested at the state offices of education in Tucson Wednesday. The group was protesting Arizona Governor Brewer’s decision to sign a law banning the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools. Meanwhile, Judy Burns, president of the Tucson Unified School District’s governing board, says she will not comply with the law. This is Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Tuscon-based Coalition for Human Rights and legal defender of Pima County, Arizona.

Isabel Garcia: “These students here are here because they’ve got to fight. They can’t legalized discrimination. They cannot legalize racism. They cannot legalize the elimination of knowledge and classes that they feel are important to them. And they’re very clear about what’s going on in the state of Arizona. So they’re clearly fighting this entire police state and toxic racist environment that we’re subjecting them to as the state of Arizona. So these students are really clear. They’re not going to go back.” (Video: Courtesy of Pan Left Productions)

How Senators Voted on SB 1070:
Here is how senators voted on the final version of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, created by Sen. Russell Pearce, Republican senator from Mesa, Arizona.
Why did it pass? Check out the votes. Navajo Senator Albert Hale did not vote. White supremacists rely on non-voting legislators and 'no shows' to get bills like this passed.
Northern Arizona senators voted for the racist legislation. Northern Arizona is home to Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Paiute, Apache, Yavapai and other Native Americans. From northern Arizona, Senators Sylvia Allen, Jack Harper, Steve Pierce and Ron Gould voted 'Yes' to the racist law.
Y = Yes/N = No/NV = Not Voting/EXC = Excused/V = Vacant Member
Paula Aboud N
Amanda Aguirre NV
Carolyn S. Allen N
Sylvia Allen Yes
Manuel V. "Manny" Alvarez N
Frank Antenori Yes
David Braswell Yes
Ed Bunch Yes
Meg Burton Cahill N
Ken Cheuvront N
Jorge Luis Garcia N
Ron Gould Yes
Chuck Gray Yes
Linda Gray Yes
Albert Hale NV
Jack W. Harper Yes
John Huppenthal Yes
Leah Landrum Taylor N
Barbara Leff Yes
Linda Lopez N
Debbie McCune Davis N
Al Melvin Yes
Richard Miranda N
John Nelson Yes
Russell Pearce Yes
Steve Pierce Yes
Rebecca Rios N
Jay Tibshraeny Yes
Thayer Verschoor Yes
Robert "Bob" Burns Yes
E-mail addresses of Senators:

The new law will mean more profits for private prison contractors. Arizona State Legislators are in collusion with the private prison profiteers GEO (formerly Wackenhut) and CCA. These corporations are already profiteering from imprisoning people of color in Arizona private prisons. For white supremacist legislators, imprisoning people of color means jobs for Arizona. CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) is Pinal County's largest non-governmental employer.

Also see:
Tom Horne, the racist behind the anti-ethnic studies law:

President Evo Morales to UN: Forging a New World of Harmony

Speech by Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, before the G77 + China at the United Nations
May 7, 2010
By President Evo Morales
I have come here to share the conclusions of the First World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held last April 20th to 22nd in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I convened this Conference because in Copenhagen the voice of the peoples of the world was not listened to or attended to, nor were established procedures respected by all States.
The Conference attracted 35,352 participants, and of those, 9,254 were foreign delegates, representing movements and social organizations from 140 countries and five continents. The event also benefited from the participation of delegations from 56 governments.

The debates that took place at the Conference were organized into 17 Working Groups. The “People’s Accord” adopted by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth is a summary of the conclusions of each of those 17 Working Groups. From among all of the documents, I would like to place special emphasis on the project of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

We, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, formally presented these conclusions last April 26th, along with a technical proposal, to the negotiation process taking place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia convened this Conference because the so-called developed countries did not comply with obligations to establish substantial commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at last year’s Copenhagen Conference on climate change. If these countries had respected the Kyoto Protocol and had agreed to substantially reduce emissions within their borders, the Cochabamba Conference would not have been necessary.

I am personally convinced that the only way to guarantee a positive result in Cancún, México is through the broad participation of the world and the ironclad unity of the countries of the G77 + China.

We in the G77 + China are a group of 130 developing countries that are the least responsible for climate change, and, nonetheless, the most affected by the dire impacts of global warming. We represent two-thirds of the countries comprising the United Nations, and close to 80% of the world’s population. In our hands is the task of saving the future of humanity and planet Earth, and making the voices of our peoples heard and respected.

That is why I have come here to address the G77 + China!

We all know that, within the G77 + China, there is a great diversity of political, economic, and cultural positions. This is our strength: unity through diversity. I know that different criteria exist within our Group, but I also know that, when we agree, there is no force that can stop us or detain us. This strength is like the unity of so many sardines before sharks. This is what happened at the last climate change meeting in Bonn from April 9th to 11th, at which we were slow to reach an agreement, but once we achieved consensus in the G77 + China, the rest of the developing countries had to submit to our consensus.

I would like to begin by highlighting the points of convergence between the G77 + China and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

The first point of convergence is the need to preserve and fulfill the Kyoto Protocol. That is to say, the need for developed countries to make substantial commitments to domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.

In the G77 + China, nobody is proposing to liquidate or dilute the Kyoto Protocol. We all agree that the Annex 1 countries that are historically responsible for causing greenhouse gas emissions should honor their commitments and obligations under international treaties on climate change.

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth demands that developed countries reduce their domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 50% based on 1990 levels for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Current offers for reducing greenhouse gases in developed countries would at best only amount to a reduction of 2% based on 1990 levels.

The Cochabamba Conference does not propose substituting the Kyoto Protocol with various voluntary reduction commitments that are not directed toward global goals, and in which no distinction is made between what the different developed countries must do.

The People’s Accord states: “The United States, as the only Annex 1 country on Earth that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has a significant responsibility toward all peoples of the world to ratify this document and commit itself to respecting and complying with emissions reduction targets on a scale appropriate to the total size of its economy.”

The second point of convergence among the World People’s Conference and the G77 + China is the need for the reduction commitments made by developed countries to be as deep possible in order to stabilize the increase in temperature to, where possible, within a range of 1.5 to 1 degree Celsius.

We developing countries present here are aware that an increase in temperature will bring grave consequences for the provision of food, for coastal zones, for glaciers, and all of Africa. All of us here in the G77 + China are resolved to avoid letting a single island state fall into the ocean.

A third point of convergence among the G77 and the Conference is the concept of the climate debt that developed countries owe to developing countries. This concept was much discussed at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change, and it became clear that the concept has the following components:

The first component is the need to give back the atmospheric space that has been occupied by the developed countries and their greenhouse gas emissions, affecting developing countries. Developed countries should decolonize the atmosphere to allow for an equitable distribution of the atmospheric space among all countries in accordance with the size of their population.

The second component is the debt with regard to forced migrations due to climate change. The number of forced migrations has reached 50 million worldwide, and could increase to 200 million to 1 billion people by the year 2050. To honor this debt, developed countries, as the generators of climate change, must open their borders to receive the affected migrants. The existence of migration laws like that of Arizona or the Return Policy in the European Union is absolutely unacceptable.

The third component is the debt to our Mother Earth. This is because not only have human beings and developing countries been affected, but so has nature. To honor this debt, the First World People’s Conference considers it fundamental to discuss here in the United Nations a proposal for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth that establishes obligations for all human beings with regard to nature and that recognizes, in the form of rights, the limits that human activity must have if we are going to preserve planet Earth.

Some of the rights of nature that it proposes are:

- The right to life and to exist
- The right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;
- The right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;
- The right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning

We hope that this proposed Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth will begin to be discussed and analyzed within the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Finally, we have the fourth component, the economic component of climate debt, which is comprised of the adaptation debt and the development debt that the industrialized countries have to developing countries.

On the topic of financing, the World People’s Conference considers that, to confront climate change, a budget should be designated similar to the budget that countries allot for military and security spending.

The amount of 10 billion dollars that developing countries are currently offering is less than 1% of the total amount of their defense budgets. It is simply not possible to dedicate 120 times more resources to war and death than to preserving life and our Mother Earth.

Developed countries should commit to annual financing from public sources in addition to the Official Development Assistance in order to confront climate change in developing countries. This financing should be direct and without conditionalities, and should not violate the sovereignty of States.

It is necessary to establish a new financing mechanism that functions under the authority of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and with significant representation by developing countries to guarantee compliance with the financing commitments of Annex 1 countries.

The World People’s Conference proposes the creation of a multilateral and multidisciplinary mechanism for technology transfer. These technologies should be useful, clean, and socially appropriate. The Cochabamba Conference considers it essential to create a fund for the financing and inventory of appropriate technologies free from intellectual property rights, particularly by moving patents from private monopolies into the public domain for free access.

The People’s Conference notes that developed countries increased their emissions by 11.2% in the period from 1990-2007 despite having claimed that reductions would be assisted by market mechanisms.

The carbon market has become a lucrative business that commodifies nature, favors a few intermediaries, and does not significantly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The recent financial crisis has demonstrated that the market is incapable of regulating the financial system, and that it would be totally irresponsible to leave care for and protection of the very existence of humanity and our Mother Earth in the hands of the market.

In this regard, the Conference considers it inadmissible that the current negotiations attempt to create new mechanisms that broaden and promote the carbon market.

The first Conference proposes the substitution of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) by a new mechanism that is not based on the promotion of the carbon market, and that respects the sovereignty of States and the right of the peoples to free, previous, and informed consent. This new mechanism should directly transfer technologies and economic resources from developed countries for the restoration and maintenance of forests and woodlands.

The topic of agriculture and climate change was also widely discussed, and the concept of food sovereignty was adopted. This goes beyond food security by implying not just the right to nourishment, but also the right of the peoples to control their own seeds, lands, water, and technology for food production in harmony with Mother Earth and at the service of the whole community, not just the sectors with the highest income.

In this regard, it was put forth that, to confront the climate change crisis, it is necessary to bring about a profound shift away from agriculture solely based on business and profit, strengthening instead agriculture for life, communities, and equilibrium with nature.

In the negotiations and in the application of the accords on climate change, it is necessary to fully guarantee the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

The Conference also proposes a new theme to be discussed in the climate change negotiations and more broadly in the General Assembly of the United Nations: the establishment of a Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal to try developed countries that fail to meet their commitments and sanction States and corporations that negatively affect the vital cycles of the Mother Earth.

Among our peoples there is much worry because the international accords to which we have subscribed are not ultimately complied with. For this reason there is an interest in creating binding mechanisms that guarantee compliance and are capable of sanctioning violations to international treaties relating to climate and the environment.

Another proposal has to do with the need to convene a Referendum on Climate Change so that the world’s population can decide what should be done about this important issue.

The Cochabamba Conference challenges us to begin to imagine and to promote a kind of global democracy in which the major issues facing humanity can be decided by all peoples.

To bring about all of these proposals, the Conference resolves to initiate the construction of a World People’s Movement of the for Mother Earth.

The Cochabamba Conference places special emphasis on analyzing the topic of development and what kind of development it is that we want.

Some of the principles agreed upon were:

- There cannot be unlimited development in a finite planet
- The model of development we want is not that of the so-called developed countries, which is unsustainable in a planet with limited natural resources
- So that developing countries might satisfy the needs of their populations without affecting planet Earth, it is essential that developed countries lower their levels of consumption and waste
- To achieve development in harmony with nature, we must also seek harmony among human beings through an equitable distribution of wealth

The First World People’s Conference proposes that the climate change negotiations analyze the structural causes of global warming and develop alternative proposals of a systemic character.

For the First World People’s Conference, the root cause of the climate crisis is the capitalist system. What we are seeing is not just a climate crisis, an energy crisis, a food crisis, a financial crisis… but also the systemic crisis of capitalism itself, which is bringing about the destruction of humanity and nature. If the cause is systemic, then the solution must be systemic as well. For this, the People’s Conference discussed the theme of alternatives for living well in harmony with nature.

To conclude, the Conference considers that to construct the future we must learn from the past, which remains present among us in the example of indigenous peoples that have in all parts of the world preserved their forms of living in harmony with nature.

Esteemed ambassadors of the G77 + China, I believe that the best way to strengthen our unity and our actions in the negotiations is by strengthening our consensus and discussing our different positions in a frank and sincere manner.

On this path, it is fundamental that situations like that of Copenhagen last year not be repeated. We should respect the position agreed upon in the Bali Plan of Action and defended by the G77 + China, and ensure that climate change negotiations continue through the two established channels of “Long-Term Cooperative Action” and the Kyoto Protocol.

Our unity gives us the strength to guarantee that the negotiations will be broadly participatory, transparent, and respectful of the equal rights of all member States of the United Nations, whether large or small, and to ensure that the voice of our peoples is heard and respected.

In the unity of the developing countries lies our potential to forge a new world in which harmony exists among human beings and with our Mother Earth.


The response to global warming is global democracy for life and for the Mother Earth. Let us choose to be clean and active today for the sake all of humanity, not toxic and reactive tomorrow, against nature. Esteemed ambassadors, we have two paths: to save capitalism, or to save life and Mother Earth.

Thank you very much.

Actions agreed upon during the meeting of the delegation that presented the conclusions of the CMPCC at the UN on May 7, 2010

1) Build support for the 26 of April Submission (People’s Agreement and Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth). (page 14).

2) Key messages:

•50% emission reduction under the Kyoto Protocol in Cancun
•Rights of Mother Earth3) Produce common statement framing outcomes of May 7th UN meeting.

4) Analysis of the AWG-LCA Chairs Text (by May 18th).

5) Comparative textual analysis of the Copenhagen Accord and the People’s Agreement (by May 25th).

6) Conference Call – after the analysis, on Friday, May 21st to discuss a common response to the Chair’s text and agree on general next steps.

7) Lobby and target different countries that can support the People’s Agreement.

8) Build a common position in the G77.

•emission reduction in Cancun, preserve Kyoto Protocol, stabilize between 1.5° and 1° C and 350 to 300 ppm, climate debt, Rights of Mother Earth.
•Procedures: two tracks, comprehensive outcome in Cancun, inclusiveness, transparency, member-driven, bottom-up approach, sovereignty, equity, no innovative measures like 40 countries negotiating instead of 192 and/or dilution of AWG-KP and AWG-LCA.
9) Events in different cities and countries during the next round of negotiation in Bonn (May 31 – June 11) to promote the People’s Agreement.

10) Development of actions during the U.S. Social Forum (June 22 – 26), the meeting of the G8 (June 25 – 27) and other events.

11) Improve and develop website of in English and Spanish.

12) Coordination with Mexican committee to help in the preparation of Cancun COP16.

13) Regional conference calls and a World conference call after Bonn round of negotiation (possible June 18).

14) Letter to the Member states of the UN, the President of the GA and the SG supporting the initiative for beginning a discussion on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

15) Explanatory note on the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

16) Working Group on the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth to follow up actions and develop strategy.

17) Development of a technical proposal for the International Climate and Environmental Justice Tribunal.

18) Preparation of a demand to Annex 1 Countries that fail to comply with the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, to be presented if there are no substantive commitments for greenhouse gas emission reduction in Cancun.

19) Begin lobbying in order to obtain co-sponsors for the UN resolution on the human right to water.

With UN statement, backlash against Arizona goes international

With U.N. statement, backlash against Arizona goes international
Tucson/KGUN 9/Reporter: Sheryl Kornman and Forrest Carr

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement Monday in Geneva calling out Arizona for a "disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants."

The U.N. statement, written with the help of a University of Arizona law professor, points at Arizona's new crackdown on illegal immigration, and also at a new Arizona law targeting the ethnic studies program at Tucson Unified School District.

In part, Arizona's new immigration law, SB 1070 as amended, makes local law enforcement officers responsible for carrying out what had been a federal agency task: taking into custody individuals who are suspected of being in the United States illegally.

The U.N. statement complains that the law requires police to determine the immigration status of individuals based on "just a reasonable suspicion" that they are in the country illegally. According to the statement, officers can arrest that person "without a warrant" if the officer has "probable cause" to believe the person is an illegal alien.

However, the statement fails to mention that SB 1070 allows a police officer to question a person's immigration status only if the officer has first stopped the suspect for some other offense. It also mischaracterizes the penalties SB 1070 mandates for being in the country illegally, saying that the offense is "punishable by up to six months in jail." For the simple act of being in the country illegally, the final version of SB 1070 actually allows a maximum penalty of only 30 days in jail, even for repeat offenders.

The statement also expresses concern that the new law may lead to "detaining and subjecting to interrogation persons primarily on the basis of their perceived ethnic characteristics." The final version of SB 1070 removed race and national origin as a reason to question someone's immigration status, "except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution." The U.N. document acknowledges the change, but notes that "legal experts differ" about what that amended language really means.

The U.N. statement urges "the state of Arizona and the United States Government to take all measures necessary to ensure that the immigration law is in line with international human rights standards." Those standards, adopted in 1990, aim to protect migrant workers and their families around the world.

The document also attacks HB 2281, the new Arizona law restricting certain practices within public school ethnic studies programs. The statement sharply criticizes Arizona Schools Superintendent Tom Horne, who pushed for the law, saying that he has "repeatedly stated that the law is aimed at eradicating particular existing ethnic studies programs that provide instruction featuring the history, social dynamics, and cultural patterns of Mexican-Americans in the United States." Horne has said that TUSD's program promotes "ethnic chauvinism" and racial resentment toward whites. The law, which Governor Brewer signed on Tuesday, bans programs that teach ethnic solidarity or promote resentment toward any ethnic group.

TUSD has said its program does no such thing and has promised to defend it. The U.N. statement supports that idea, saying, "Everyone has the right to seek and develop cultural knowledge and to know and understand his or her own culture and that of others through education and information."

The plain language of HB 2281 does not actually ban ethnic studies. In fact, it specifically allows them, provided they are open to all students, do not advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government, and don't violate the restrictions against promoting ethnic solidarity or resentment against any ethnic groups. That fact cut Arizona no slack with the U.N. human rights team, which wrote, "such law and attitude are at odds with the State's responsibility to respect the right of everyone to have access to his or her own cultural and linguistic heritage and to participate in cultural life. Everyone has the right to seek and develop cultural knowledge and to know and understand his or her own culture and that of others through education and information."

The U.N. statement states that the two new laws "raise serious doubts about... compatibility with relevant international human rights treaties to which the United States is a party." But the statement does not propose penalties or sanctions.

A team of six well-respected human rights experts wrote the statement. One of them, S. James Anaya, is a professor of law at the University of Arizona in Tucson. According to his University bio, Anaya teaches human rights law and policy, and has worked on the United Nations human rights team since 2008. In response to a query from KGUN9 News, a law department spokesperson said Anaya is out of the country and not immediately available for comment.

The other five members of the team are:

Gay McDougall of the United States
Jorge A. Bustamante of Mexico
Mr. Githu Muigai of Kenya
Farida Shaheed of Pakistan
Vernor Muñoz Villalobos of Costa Rica