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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wikileaks Quito: US worked against UN Indigenous Rights Declaration in Ecuador

US Ambassador in Quito carried out US mission of working against adoption of UN Declaration

Children near Quito. UN photo Milton Grant.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

 In a cable released by Wikileaks, US Ambassador Linda Jewell in Ecuador said the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is "fundamentally flawed." This cable marks the third cable revealing how the United States worked behind the scenes to halt adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 Already, a Wikileaks cable from the US Embassy in Canada, said Canada agreed with the US that the Declaration was "ill-conceived and headed for a train wreck." In Iceland, the US Ambassador said Iceland's support of the Declaration was an "impediment" to US and Iceland relations at the UN.

Now, Wikileaks reveals that US Ambassador Jewell in Quito, Ecuador, described steps taken by the US to dissuade Ecuador from supporting the Declaration in 2006, the year before it was adopted by the UN. Jewell stated the government of Ecuador was inclined to support the Declaration in 2006. She said, however, that the US took steps to present papers to show that the UN Declaration "is fundamentally flawed."

The cable was written on Oct. 20, 2006 and released on May 2, 2011. It is marked sensitive and titled GOE (Government of Ecuador) Inclined to Support Indigenous Declaration.
Cable: 06QUITO2574
¶B. QUITO 1386
¶1. (SBU) PolOff presented Ref A points and non-papers to Augusto Saa, Director of Human Rights and Social and Environmental issues at the MFA, on October 12, emphasizing the USG view that the Chair's draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is fundamentally flawed.
¶2. (SBU) Saa responded that the GOE continues to support the draft Declaration, but has advised its UN mission not to push any sensitive issues and would share USG concerns regarding the declaration with them. He agreed that more discussion of the declaration would be necessary before a final vote, and said Ecuador would consult with others who are in favor while remaining open to arguments from those who oppose it. Saa emphasized it would be difficult for Ecuador to actively oppose the draft, citing political realities here, including the current electoral climate and the support for the Declaration from Ecuadorian indigenous groups.

When the United Nations adopted the UN Declaration in 2007, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia were the four countries that voted against it. Although the four countries later took action on it, the US and Canada gave only lip service and did not sign on to it, or fully endorse it.

The United Nations said Thursday that UN Member States have the responsibility to uphold the human rights principles outlined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adding that violations of the fundamental rights of those communities persist.

“First and foremost, the nation Member States of the United Nations are to take the initial obligation to begin to adopt policies and legislation … to maintain consistence with the human rights standards that are embraced in the declaration,” said Dalee Sambo Dorough, a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, at a press conference at UN Headquarters on May 18, 2011.

She said the direct and often brutal violations of the basic rights of indigenous people in every region of the world continue, even in areas where success had been achieved, such as in Canada where an agreement over land use between the aboriginal communities in Nunavut has faced implementation hitches.

“The reality of the UN declaration is that the rights of indigenous people did not arise out of the goodwill of States,” said Ms. Dorough.

“Rather, it is because of the entire history of exploitation, colonization, as well as the full range of human rights violations that the indigenous community has pressed the UN to open its doors in order to for us to take our rightful place not only in the context of the human rights pillar of the UN, but also in the environment, as well as the peace and security pillar,” she told reporters on the sidelines of deliberations in the two-week Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The forum is aimed at advancing the rights of the estimated 370 million indigenous people worldwide. More than 1,300 delegates are participating.

Already, the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council has rejected the limited support of the United States.

"In the first paragraph of the 'support' statement they make it is clear that the Declaration is in no way a legal document, nor are they bound by it," the council said in a statement.

"The Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council calls upon the United States of America to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without inserting unilateral qualifications, limitations, and abrogations that clearly stand in violation to internationally binding treaties, international treaty law, and international human rights laws and standards."

The rights stated in the UN Declaration includes Indigenous Peoples' "rights to their lands, territories and resources" and states that no relocation can occur without "free, prior and informed consent." The rights stated include Indigenous Peoples rights to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property and their right to free, prior and informed consent.

Coal-fired power plants, oil and gas drilling and uranium mining target Indian lands. The collusion between the US government, Canadian government and mining and energy corporations is obvious. The UN Declaration secures the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their territories, forests and rivers, as well as to their intellectual property rights.

Wikileaks cables reveal how the US Embassy in Peru tracked Indigenous activists and organized mining companies to counter Indigenous efforts to protect their communities. Five countries formed an alliance to promote mining, while the US provided a list of names of Indigenous grassroots activists in Peru.
Wikileaks Peru: Ambassador targeted Indigenous activists:
Wikileaks Peru: US engaged in espionage of Indigenous activists:
Wikileaks Peru: US feared Indigenous power:
Wikileaks US: Canada says UN Declaration headed for a train wreck:
Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council rejects US limited support:
WIKILEAKS: US says Iceland's support of UN Indigenous Declaration is an 'impediment' to US relations:

Adopted by the General Assembly 13 September 2007
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday September 13, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). More:

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (text)

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