Media Center

Press Release


  March 25, 2006

Brasilia, Brazil – Agreement was reached by delegates and experts of the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) and representatives of the indigenous peoples and organizations of the Hemisphere on one article in the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples dedicated specifically to recognition of the rights of indigenous women in the Hemisphere. The meeting that ended today had been in session in the Brazilian capital since Tuesday, March 21 to continue negotiation of a draft declaration that recognizes, respects, and protects the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Hemisphere.

“We are very pleased with the headway made in Brazil and especially with the unanimous adoption of the article acknowledging the responsibility of States to guarantee the full enjoyment of women’s rights and the prevention of all forms of violence against them,” said Ambassador Juan León Alvarado, Chair of the Working Group and Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS, stressing that progress was being made on a fundamental item on the inter-American agenda for promoting gender equity and equality.

The Working Group recognizes that violence and discrimination against indigenous peoples and persons, particularly women and children, hinders or nullifies the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The experts called upon governments in the Hemisphere to adopt the necessary measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to prevent and eradicate all forms of violence.

“The indigenous women of the Americas have long suffered from dual discrimination, as women and as indigenous persons, in addition to being discriminated against within their own communities,” Juan León said, adding that hopefully the issue would now receive the recognition it deserved, along with tougher measures by governments in the Hemisphere to address the issue as a matter of urgency.

One of the achievements of the Seventh Meeting of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus was that it finished reviewing the consolidated text of a draft declaration prepared by the Chair and began a second reading, paragraph by paragraph. Participating in the closing session, in addition to Ambassador León, were Mercio Gómez, Chair of Brazil’s Fundación Nacional del Indio (FUNAI) and Demon Currie of Barbados, representing the participants of the indigenous communities.

In underscoring the achievements of this seventh hemispheric meeting on the topic, León thanked delegates for their political will to explore different ways to arrive at a consensus. “They put forward initiatives and proposals which kept the dialogue going,” said the Guatemalan diplomat, as he thanked participants for their spirit of openness and mutual readiness to listen to each other. “This meeting consolidated the outcomes obtained in Guatemala last October,” the Guatemalan diplomat said as the meeting drew to a close.

There is manifest interest in holding another meeting of the Working Group in mid-2006, to consider – among other matters – the issue of self-determination: a subject of great concern for all the governments and the indigenous peoples.

Reference: E-068/06