Majesty Akahi Wahine addresses the UNPO

UNPO MONITOR

(This is the partial text of a meeting in which current Kingdom of Hawaii was represented. Majesty Akahi Nui has since been recognized as the official representative for the Hawaiian People and so directs who is their representative to this organization. At this particular occasion Hawaii was represented by His wife.)


Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
UNPO 1997

Draft Summary of the Principal Points Raised at the
United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations

This Monitor is a draft. The final corrected and edited version will also be available at <http://www.unpo.org> or can be ordered at the UNPO Office in the Hague, the Netherlands. UNPO apologizes for any inaccuracies.

Day 2, Tuesday July 29, 1997 Working Group, Morning Session

1.Ms. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Wishes everyone a good
morning and declares the meeting open. Reports on the results of the private
meeting of the members of the Working Group yesterday afternoon and
notes it was decided not to change the order of the items of the agenda.
Notes, however, that in organizing the work of the session, attention will be
paid to assure that a full discussion is held under each item, including in
particular, the item on a permanent forum for indigenous peoples. States that
in view of the large number of participants, the Working Group decided that
the list of speakers will be open on all items of the agenda and it will be
closed at 6:30 p.m. this afternoon. Says that speakers should provide their
names, the title of their organization and the country from which they come.
Says that this will allow the Secretariat to divide the time more favourably
and effectively. Notes that she will give the floor to the Secretariat for some
information on documentation for the session.

2.Mr. Julian Burger, Secretary, Working Group on Indigenous
Populations: Thanks the Chairperson. States that he has information
regarding documents on the Working Group. Mentions that the agenda is
available at the door . States that the annotated version of document
E7N4/2/AC4/1997/2 is available in the 6 official languages. Adds that the
supplementary working paper of the Special Rapporteur is also available at
door 40. States that document 3 is not available. Clarifies that it was to be a
document by the Secretariat on land and environment but was found to be
unnecessary. Adds that the document on health and indigenous peoples is
also not available at this time. Continues that document ECN4/AC 4/1997 /5
is information on the Voluntary Fund and is available in all the official
languages. States that the draft on the Permanent Forum has been submitted.
Mentions that the working paper by the Special Rapporteur on land rights is
unavailable at this time.

3.Ms. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Thanks the Secretariat for the
information concerning the documents. Appeals to all participants to be as
brief as possible although there is no limitation of time for the speeches.
Reminds everyone that they must respect the right of others to speak. Notes
that those that have attended meetings in the past years know that she likes to
preserve the order in the room. Reminds that no one should talk privately in
the conference room but do so outside if need be. Hopes that the time will be
used efficiently. Introduces agenda item no. 4 relating to the standard
concerning the rights of indigenous peoples. Refers to the working paper
she wrote on the concept of indigenous peoples. Notes that she has not
changed her view since last year. Refers to the comprehensive paper she
prepared at the 14th session, reference ECN4/ Sub2/AC/4/1996. Reaffirms
that no single definition can capture the vast diversity of indigenous peoples.
States that it is therefore not desirable to arrive at universal definition at the
present time. Recalls the meeting of the Working Group during which the
members refused to define the concept. Recalls that this was agreed to by the
government representatives. Notes, however, that certain representatives
still have comments to make on the issue, therefore, the matter will be
discussed further. Notes that she was requested to write a supplementary
paper for this Working Group. States that all governments will have the
occasion to express their opinion. Mentions that she had asked for
a information from the governments and NGOs on this and has received
nothing as yet. Gives floor to first speaker

A number of other speakers spoke first, but for brevity I only include HH Wahine Akahi Nui's address to the organization. The complete text is available from the UNPO.


 
***
25. Ms. Akahi Nui, Kingdom of the Hawai'i Nation:

 

States that the Na Kanaka Maoli indigenous people are the original inhabitants of the island and their traditions and origins go back to the life forces of nature itself.

Says that the origins of the Na Kanaka Maoli people come from the earth, streams, springs, crops, oceans, currents, winds, volcanoes and various elements of nature. Continues by saying that these people are part of nature and nature is part of them, and their language has words for the love and the care of the land.

Says that this is the core of their philosophy since the people sustained their relationship with land and extended family. Notes that the indigenous peoples need access to the resources of the land for substance which has always been the basis of their existence.

Says that the Na Kanaka Maoli peoples are seen as a poverty stricken people with a high imprisonment rate. Thanks the Chairperson.***[abbreviated by the UNPO for space, to see entire speech see the 18 pages]



28.Mr. Miguel Alfonso Martinez, Member of the Working Group:
States that the list of speakers has been exhausted. Adds that in reference to
some of the issues on item four, the opinion of the experts is that it is not
necessary to define indigenous peoples at this time. States that not having a
definition could be misinterpreted as procrastination. Emphasizes that it is
possible to have a declaration on indigenous peoples without having a prior
definition on minorities. Reiterates that it is up to them to define the concept of
indigenous peoples depending on the situation in which they live. States that the
term indigenous peoples is plural. Adds that this is a matter of customs and
history. Notes that the usage of "s" in indigenous peoples in Spanish and
English was discussed. Adds that for many years, the UN has struggled
between the difference between minorities and indigenous peoples. States that
head way is being made in the Working Group. States that there is little left to
discuss regarding item 4. Suggests that there should be a focus on how to
improve the draft declaration at the government level. Reminds that indigenous
peoples should not be confused with minorities. Adds that the UN has an
appropriate format for minority issues. Underlines that there is no need to
duplicating that.

 

29.Mr. El-Hadji Guisse, Member of the Working Group: Says he wants
to share aloud his thoughts on the concept of indigenous peoples. Notes that
some have called for a definition of indigenous peoples, and says that while a
definition is not possible at the present stage of the discussions, that did not
mean it is not useful. States that though impossible, it is useful and this impels
the Working Group to discuss it and share views. Says that when governments
call for a discussion, the point is not to reach a definition of indigenous peoples
in the classical sense, but rather that a legal and social framework should be
reached to use as reference and to harmonize action and protect the rights of
indigenous peoples. Notes that this framework has to be based on an
exhaustive review of criteria to say who is an indigenous person and who is
not. Notes that this has already been used in the United Nations system with the
concept of minorities. Says that it is desirable to move toward a framework as
reference, and possibly to reach a definition accepted by everyone. Notes that
within the United Nations, the concept of people or peoples had different
meanings depending on the time and place about which one is talking. Agrees
with the comments offered by the Swiss delegation as one way, if not the only
way, to proceed, and endorses it. Notes that the construction of international
law related to indigenous people is to protect them, and requires scrupulous
respect for human rights, in general, and human rights of indigenous peoples,
in particular. Notes that self-determination, self-management, and autonomy are
all concepts used today. Says that self-determination is used widely for people
under the colonial yoke, and in the struggle of the Palestinian people. Hopes the
Working Group is careful in using this definition in defending indigenous
peoples. Says that all these concepts require careful and constructive reflection
and discussion by governments and indigenous people and non-governmental
organizations and others. States that the procedure started by the ILO
Convention 169 is just the start of a common effort to reach something positive
for indigenous peoples. Thinks that the Working Group should engage in a
general discussion, and should not be too hasty, even if too much time has
already passed. Stresses the need for a useful and positive instrument for the
search for a definition or legal framework to identify indigenous peoples and to
protect their rights. Asks everyone to think about ways of contributing to the
protection of indigenous peoples.

30.Mr. Ribot Hatano, Member of the Working Group: Notes that
following the statements made this morning, he has an idea of what the general
sentiment is concerning the definition of indigenous peoples. Agrees with Ms.
Daes' conclusions in her working paper that it is neither feasible nor desirable
to have a definition. Notes, however, that it may be necessary to constitute a
definition of the concept in the future, after the adoption of the Draft Declaration
by the General Assembly. Hopes that the Declaration could be followed by a
treaty, binding all the parties, in which a piecemeal definition could be
established.

31.Ms. Erica-Irene Daes, Chairperson: Thanks Mr. Hatano for his
comments. Notes that he is the last speaker on the list. Thanks everyone for
contributions. States that consideration of item 5 will begin this afternoon at
3:00 pm. Requests that all be on time that statements are kept brief and related
to recent developments. Adjourns the meeting.

This Monitor is not an official transcript of the Working Group, but represents
substantially what was communicated during the meetings. UNPO apologizes for any
inaccuracies. If you have corrections please contact the UNPO Secretariat in Room
E3064

The Monitor is available on internet: http://www.unpo.org/

 

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