|IPACC pushes for more accountability at United Nations|
|Friday, 12 de June de 2009|
New York City - 1 June 2009
Members of the IPACC Executive Committee were surprised at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) to hear that IPACC was being excluded from rights negotiations related to the UN REDD process. UN REDD announced that a delegate from Tanzania, chosen at the Anchorage global summit of indigenous peoples and climate change will be the only African spokesperson recognised at the critical Montreux meeting on defining rights standards and procedures for UN REDD.
IPACC is a network of 155 indigenous peoples' community based organisations based in 22 African countries. IPACC's Executive Committee is elected by its membership in 6 geographic / cultural regions of Africa. The ExCo has a three year mandate to coordinate advocacy on issues of human and civil rights, environment, natural resources and climate justice. IPACC has a governance structure which includes voting members, elected Executive Committee members, a Trust registered in South Africa to ensure fiduciary integrity and legal liability, and a professional Secretariat hired jointly by the Executive and the Trust. IPACC elections are monitored by an independent distinguished human rights expert in South Africa and the network undergoes regular external evaluations.
IPACC was pushed out of the Anchorage summit process by various powerful stakeholders who, amongst other things, have an interest in controlling resources related to REDD. UN REDD is arguing that the UNPFII Chair will be its main reference point on REDD and indigenous rights, and that the Anchorage meeting satisfied requirements for transparency to appoint regional indigenous delegates.
IPACC members were concerned that after two years of cooperating with the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnereship, and a series of consultative meetings and training with indigenous leaders from forest-based peoples in East and Central Africa, including a pan-African meeting on adaptation and mitigation in Marrakech in November 2008, UN REDD has allied with external players to select representation not nominated by the indigenous peoples' own regional network.
REDD is an instrument of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to attract carbon credit offsets to help pay for conservation of tropical forests in developing countries. Though IPACC members are skeptical about whether there will be widespread use of carbon credits for mitigation and forest conservation, REDD is seen as an important policy platform for indigenous peoples to speak to African governments about their tenure and stewardship rights over tropical forests.
IPACC advised the Permanent Forum that it should give more attention to why African states hardly participate in the annual forum in New York City. IPACC leaders expressed concerned that entrenched interests are starting to consolidate in the UNPFII, and moving it further away from the realities of indigenous peoples at ground level.
In its recommendations to the 8th session of the Permanent Forum, IPACC again proposed that UN agencies should support national level review committees in Africa. UNDP and OHCHR originally cooperated to forum the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Advisory Committee of Kenya (UNIPACK) that held meetings around Kenya with rural indigenous peoples, along with UN agencies and State representatives. UNIPACK was a model upheld by IPACC as a way of bringing greater accountability of UN agencies to indigenous peoples in Africa, as well as encouraging State commitment through three-way dialogues.
IPACC leaders expressed concerns that the UNPFII is becoming a forum for complaining rather than looking for workable solutions to rights and development challenges experienced by indigenous peoples. The leadership and influence holders at the PF seem to be removed from daily realities of indigenous peoples and also ineffective in maintaining real dialogue with African states. In short, it is not clear that the UNPFII is adding value at national level in Africa.
On the issue of human rights and future cooperation, IPACC worked with the African caucus to submit the following recommendations to the 8th session of the PF:
The African Caucus reminds the Permanent Forum and African States that this event in New York was designed to facilitate a three-way dialogue on the implementation of rights and equitable development at national level. To achieve this the African States need to be present here at the meeting.
The African Caucus asks the Permanent Forum to support us in the following actions:
1. Remind African states in writing of their obligation to implement the 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We ask you to give special attention to those states making progress, namely the Republic of Burundi and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville);
2. UNPFII Secretariat should meet with individual African diplomatic legations to the UN and ask them what they think of the UNPFII, and what would encourage them to be more involved in the work of the UNPFII;
3. Encourage UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to create national reference committees to review the impact of UN agencies on the rights of indigenous peoples at national level. This committee should include State representatives, indigenous representatives and UN agencies. Please refer to our recommendations of 2007;
4. Encourage African states to constitutionally recognize the identities and languages of indigenous peoples, so that indigenous youth can be proud of their identity;
5. Establish education that involves indigenous elders and builds on indigenous knowledge and culture from early primary school up to university levels and create frameworks for indigenous language education;
6. Support the use of indigenous languages in the media as well as in the African courts.
7. The UNPFII to set a day during the next session of the Forum to discuss the Impact of Extractive Industries on Indigenous Peoples
8. Requests the UNPFII to designate one of its members as focal point or Rapporteur on the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. For UNPFII to monitor the harmonisation of regulations between the African Commission and the African Court;
9. UNPFII to come to Africa and hold a dialogue with African national human rights commissions and diplomats.
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