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Press Release


  November 26, 2007

As work continues within the Organization of American States (OAS) on a Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert R. Ramdin, has urged those involved to place emphasis on reaching compromise on the major concerns of the hemisphere’s indigenous peoples and governments.

The OAS’ work has been moving forward, even as the United Nations this year adopted the International Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights, an initiative Ambassador Ramdin described as one that “will enrich national legislations and therefore improve policy mechanisms.”

The Assistant Secretary General made the remarks today at the opening of a two-day “Reflection Session” of the OAS Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The session is being held at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Ramdin highlighted major issues, noting that while strides have been made on improving socio-economic conditions in the last decade on, much remains to be done to redress problems affecting the hemisphere’s Indigenous populations that number some 28 million. Ramdin spoke about a wide education gap of “close to three years of schooling” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations; child labor rates that “may be limiting” Indigenous peoples’ access to education”; and persistent lack of access to basic health services for Indigenous peoples.

“These facts, among others, have been the reasons the United Nations and the OAS have assumed a decisive role in building a coherent framework of rights and policies in favor of indigenous peoples,” Assistant Secretary General Ramdin explained, describing the reflection session as a step forward in that sense. He also urged the negotiators to identify instruments that can facilitate and accelerate the negotiation process; and formulate specific recommendations to submit to the OAS Permanent Council for consideration.

Reference: E-303/07