Philippines: RP Refuses to Sign UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples' Rights
- INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S WATCH
RP Refuses to Sign UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples' Rights
The United Nations Human Rights Council has finally adopted the texts of a declaration on indigenous peoples' rights, which has been under debate at the UN for the past 11 years. The Philippines was not among the signatories to the historic document.
BY MAURICE MALANES AND ACE ALEGRE
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY - The United Nations Human Rights Council has finally adopted the texts of a declaration on indigenous peoples' rights, which has been under debate at the UN and under lobby pressures by indigenous representatives worldwide for the past 11 years, say reports from Geneva.
The Philippines, however, was not among those which signed the historic document last June 29 because it abstained.
The pressure from Canada, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand influenced the Philippine decision, said Windel Bolinget, secretary-general of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), in a statement to the press.
"It's a shame that the Philippines has abstained when it boasts of a law on indigenous peoples' rights in the international community and being the only country in Asia to have one," said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, in a telephone interview.
Bolinget share the same sentiment, adding that negotiations over the exact wording of the declaration had flounced for some years over differences of opinion between governments and indigenous peoples' organizations on the meaning of "collective and individual rights" and their respective applications.
Corpuz, who was in Geneva to participate in the UNHRC's June 19-30 first session, was referring to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or IPRA, which is often cited as a model law for indigenous peoples in the international community.
"The Philippines missed this most historic moment when it should further uphold these rights (provided for in the IPRA) so the Philippine delegation failed indigenous peoples," she said. "I hope the Philippine government redeems itself and vote for the Declaration during its adoption at the (coming) General Assembly session."
The UN Information Service reported that 30 countries voted for the adoption of the texts of the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples' Rights, which has remained a draft for the past 11 years. Two voted against the texts; 12, including the Philippines, abstained; and three were absent.
Earlier this week, Corpuz and other indigenous representatives attending the Geneva HR Council sessions solicited support from indigenous peoples' organizations to support a June 21 resolution by the delegation of Peru calling for the adoption of Draft declaration.
Almost a hundred indigenous organizations, advocacy groups, and individuals from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, signed in and e-mailed to Geneva their statement of support to the Peru resolution. CPA is among the signatories. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat
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