Media Center

Press Release


  November 29, 2007

The Organization of American States (OAS) working group responsible for drafting a hemispheric declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples ended a series of meetings in Washington deciding it would step up negotiations on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A majority of the Member States and all the representatives of the Indigenous Caucus agreed that a basic reference point should be the universal declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples that the United Nations adopted last September to acclaim from indigenous peoples. Stressing that international law should be the standard against which the American Declaration is negotiated, the Member State delegations and the Indigenous Caucus also agreed to establish clear guidelines for the negotiations, and to identify obstacles and issues on which progress has been made with regard to the draft American Declaration.

These decisions are part of a package of outcomes and recommendations arising from a three-day “reflection session” held by the OAS Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and which were submitted Wednesday for consideration by the Permanent Council at a meeting chaired by Argentina’s Ambassador Rodolfo Gil.

The Working Group Chairman, Bolivia’s Ambassador to the OAS Reynaldo Cuadros Anaya, presented the outcomes and recommendations to the Permanent Council, alongside the Indigenous Caucus’ representative, Adelfo Rufino. “Bolivia has adopted the universal declaration under its domestic laws, the first country in the world to do so,” Cuadros said, urging all the OAS Member States to “identify shared values and join with the Indigenous peoples in this effort.” Rufino, meanwhile, stressed that it was important for the Indigenous Caucus that the dialogue of the reflection session was “based on good faith and sincerity,” and that “our voice is being heard at the OAS.”

The reflection session also agreed on changes to the methodology in negotiating the draft American Declaration, with the Indigenous Caucus underscoring the importance of doing a comparative study of the OAS Draft Declaration and the UN Declaration.

During Wednesday’s Permanent Council meeting as well, the Member States ambassadors commended the Working Group on its efforts, and lauded the outcomes and recommendations that emerged from the reflection session. They also expressed their commitment to supporting efforts to achieve the necessary consensus for concluding negotiations on the American Declaration as soon as possible.

Reference: E-314/07