May 18-29, 2009
Global Indigenous Women’s Caucus Statement Agenda Item 7:
Future Work of the Permanent Forum including issues of the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues
Honorable Chairwoman, Members of the UN Permanent Forum, distinguished representatives of Indigenous Peoples, sisters and brothers here today,
Indigenous Women are the human embodiment of Mother Earth. Thus, managing and protecting Earth’s nurturing gifts is our responsibility. Indigenous Women bring invaluable knowledge, which reflects the worldviews of Indigenous Peoples that recognize our interconnectedness with the world around us. The knowledge includes ecological managing systems that can correct the global crises, which are caused by unsustainable economies. As such, our knowledge and ways of life are essential for the perpetuation, promotion and development of the world’s biodiversity. For these reasons, we play a very important role in carrying out our communities’ self-determining development.
As keepers and guardians of Mother Earth, Indigenous Women have a special connection with our ancestral lands. We are the first, together with our families, to suffer from the impact of Climate Change, the current patenting practices under the Intellectual Property Rights regime, and the forced displacements of Indigenous Peoples happening all over the world. Indigenous Women are deeply concerned that the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have not recognized Indigenous Peoples’ rights to our traditional territories, lands and waters in the negotiations of an international regime of access and benefit-sharing due for completion by 2010. Also, Indigenous Women oppose all forms of patenting of any form of life and reject the potentially genocidal effects of genetic modification and contamination of land by genetically engineered technology. Further, these acts violate our rights, as contained inter alia in articles 11 and 24 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP).
Key solutions to these challenges include environmental protection, peace and development, which are interdependent and interrelated. The imbalance of the environment is both a cause and effect of the political tensions and conflicts, which affects Indigenous Women and children in alarming ways. Therefore, our rights to ancestral lands and territories and to maintaining and preserving our Traditional Indigenous Knowledge (TIK) are key in mitigating these problems and for our own survival, as contained, inter alia in articles 8, 10, 11, and 25-31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Given this, we offer the following interrelated recommendations that would help ensure our roles as Indigenous Women in facing the challenges outlined, and help the protection of our rights.
Recommendations for future work:
FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT
We commend the Permanent Forum’s numerous calls in document E/C.19/2009/L.2 for States and transnational corporations and inter-governmental banks to respect, implement, and guarantee the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.1 We underscore the critical need for the full and equal participation of Indigenous Women in these efforts. We therefore recommend that the Permanent Forum urge States, transnational corporations and inter-governmental banks to ensure that Free, Prior, and Informed Consent is sought with the full and effective participation of Indigenous Women on an equal basis, as well as the participation of all marginalized groups in Indigenous communities.
We strongly urge the Permanent Forum to set Traditional Indigenous Knowledge, including the revitalization of Indigenous Languages, as a future main theme for its work.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum undertake a study on the implementation of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the protection of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge. This reinforces our previous recommendation that the Permanent Forum advance a World Conference on TIK in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, including a focus on TIK and Education. We recommend that the Permanent Forum hold preparatory sessions in all regions that provide examples of best practices by States, UN agencies and bodies and Indigenous Peoples of the implementation of the UN DRIP in relation to the protection of TIK.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum recommend the establishment of an International Year for Traditional Indigenous Knowledge. This International Year can, among other mandates, facilitate focused research and emphasize critical concerns of Indigenous Peoples’ access to educational opportunities related to TIK within their communities and outside of them.
HUMAN RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS WOMEN
We recommend that the Permanent Forum initiate a gender-based analysis of the
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous Women at the local level. Articles 21, 22 and 44 of the UN DRIP mandate a full gender-based analysis of the Declaration. Any human rights process that considers the needs of Indigenous Women must be mindful of our specific customary laws, traditional beliefs and practices, and historical circumstances as well as our specific experiences of discrimination and marginalization. We recommend that the Permanent Forum undertake a gender-based analysis to set the framework for all States as they implement UN DRIP.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum study ways for the establishment of a mechanism to address violations on the right to maintain and preserve Indigenous cultures. Article 31 of UN DRIP asserts that Indigenous Peoples have the right to maintain their own cultures. Violations to Article 31, as well as other articles including article 11, are currently occurring as States prohibit the practice of Indigenous cultural traditions. We condemn the actions of States that criminalize Indigenous cultural practices or expressions of collective identity, where women are being detained and punished for expressions of their traditional cultures.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum undertake a study on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of unrecognized or unrepresented Indigenous Peoples. Historically known Peoples who are unrecognized and/or unrepresented within States have no access to remedies of collective or tribal rights. This undermines the stability of Indigenous Women and Children who carry their traditions and are unable to practice them without being criminalized.
TRADITIONAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS
We recommend that the Permanent Forum sets traditional Indigenous justice systems as a future agenda item of the UN PFII. Acknowledging the efforts of UNIFEM to further the understanding of Indigenous Women and Ancestral/Tribal Justice systems through the forum held in Ecuador (October 2008), we encourage further efforts by UNESCO, UNDP, UNIFEM to coordinate additional forums that will promote knowledge and understanding of the value of Indigenous Justice Systems.
TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL AND HEALING SYSTEMS
We commend the Permanent Forum’s call to the UNDP to convene an International Expert Workshop on “Indigenous Peoples and health, with a special emphasis on sexual and reproductive health” (E/C.19/2009/L.2, para. 25). In preparation for this Workshop, we recommend the Permanent Forum to prepare studies of best practices on traditional Indigenous medicinal and healing systems. These studies should focus on: (a) greater visibility of Indigenous Women in reports and statistics that examine the impact of poverty, disease, violence, forced dislocation, climate change, pollution and other factors that affect Indigenous Women’s health; (b) the need of health care providers to have specific training to assist Indigenous Women who are disproportionately affected by problems such as cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence; (c) understanding of and support for traditional medicines and practices such as traditional birthing practices, which are not valued by western health systems, or the chewing of coca leaves in South America, which at present is criminalized by national and international laws; (d) sexual and reproductive health and rights; and (e) more education within Indigenous communities, as problems such as HIV and tuberculosis are compounded when social stigma inhibits people from coming in to be tested and treated.
We also note the importance of continued support for the Indigenous Task Force at the International Diabetes Federation and the STOP TB Partnership.
We commend the Permanent Forum’s recommendations for studying the situation of Indigenous Women migrants and the loss of their rights as they migrate (E/C.19/2009/L.2, para. 26 and 27). For this study, we recommend the PFII to produce studies and request from all UN bodies and agencies disaggregated data on Indigenous migration. We also request a gender-based analysis be completed in all reports that are produced. We would like to suggest the following:
Need for disaggregated data on Indigenous migration: We recommend that the PFII in collaboration with the relevant UN bodies and agencies, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of the Human Rights and Fundament Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, and Indigenous scholars/experts on Indigenous migration, create a taskforce to conduct a meaningful and comprehensive study that will advance the identified constraints in the research findings of the Indigenous Peoples and Migration: Challenges and Opportunities Draft Issues Paper (2006) Section D. This should focus on the lack of relevant data on Indigenous Peoples in migration, especially Indigenous Women who have been forced off their lands, often due to economic and environmental factors. Greater access to justice for migrant Indigenous Women needs to be facilitated, given that they are often faced with criminalization and incarceration rooted in discrimination. Related to this, there is also a need of disaggregated data on the physical and mental health of migrant Indigenous Women.
Gender-based analysis of Indigenous migration: We recommend that the PFII in collaboration with the relevant UN bodies and agencies, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of the Human Rights and Fundament Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, and Indigenous scholars/experts on Indigenous migration undertake a joint comprehensive study on the specific concerns of Indigenous Women in the area of forced migration, including socio-economic marginalization, extreme exploitative labor practices fueled by undue influence of transnational corporations on immigration policies, violence against Indigenous Women and a lack of fair judicial review of racial and gender discrimination of migrants outside of their territories. This study should consider and integrate the analysis on migration and women developed in the Rural Women’s Declaration: Rights, Empowerment and Liberation (August 2, 2007, Manila Philippines).
We call upon the Permanent Forum to implement and prioritize its recommendations regarding decolonization. Specifically, these recommendations are in Document No. E/C/19/2004/23, para. 54, from the third session, regarding the impact of decolonization on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples of the self-governing territories; and in Document No. E/C.19/2008/13, para. 52, from the seventh session, recommending that an expert seminar be held on the decolonization process on Indigenous Peoples of non-self governing territories.
TRANSBORDER INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
We request that the Permanent Forum initiate an Expert Study and Dialogue on transborder Indigenous communities. This study should examine: (a) the interrelated causation of militarization and toxic spills from factories to infant, child and young mother’s mortality/morbidity; (b) contamination of land, air, water, and space; (c) the right to mobility within the traditional territory and access to cultural, sacred and ceremonial sites; (c) political identity and organization; (d) jobs; (e) education of women and children; and (f) armed and forced removal from customary lands.
DEVELOPMENT WITH CULTURE AND IDENTITY
We commend the Permanent Forum’s decision to organize an International Expert Group meeting on Indigenous Peoples’ development with culture and identity (E/C.19/2009/L.2, para. 15). Given that Indigenous Women play a very important role in carrying out our communities’ self-determining development, we urge the Permanent Forum to include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Women in this meeting.