Dear Excellences and Representatives of Indigenous Peoples. I speak on behalf of the following arctic indigenous peoples institutions and organizations: The sami parliaments of Finland, Norway and Sweden, the Sami Parliamentary Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Saami Council.
First let me express our dissatisfaction with the outcome of the consultation process we have had over the last three years. This is the first time we meet after the GA resolution on indigenous peoples’ participation was passed last fall. And let me just state the obvious, the result is far from what was on the table when we last time consulted with the states. We are dismayed by the result, as it seems like the states has disregarded all major elements that we thought we agreed on. The member states asked us for our red lines, and they made shure to go well below that as soon as they had thrown us out of the room. This is NOT in accordance with the principals of Free, Prior and Informed Consent and consultation obligations established in your own agreed rules in the UNDRIP. We note that the UN itself is not willing or able to adhere to its own standards.
“We the peoples of the United Nations…” as it is prominently stated in the UN Charter, should, and must, embrace the contributions and rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the world. We had high hopes for a new era of work together with the peoples of the world when the UNDRIP was adopted back in 2007. In 2014, the heads of states of the UN agreed to find new modalities and working methods, respecting the representatives of Indigenous Peoples, and their contribution. In our view this process has demonstrated the member states lack the interest in fulfilling these ambitions. We do have a lot to offer to our global community, and have turned to our common body to establish working methods and a participatory status that respect our status as peoples, all in good faith. It is discouraging to note that our two years of work resulted in a resolution that we do not recognize.
We are now in a situation where we are asked to contribute to a process that is not very clear to us, and we hope the honorable PGA can guide us on how this process is to proceed.
We are curious to how we are to move forward, as we maintain our primary positions. We did our best to adjust and address the concerns of member states during the last couple of years consultations, but we did not expect states to simply disregard our input. We are seeking the PGA guidance on how we can reestablish a constructive dialogue on the participatory rights of Indigenous Peoples’ Representative Institutions in all UN fora during these consultations. Indigenous Peoples have the right to participate in decision making on all levels. We are still waiting for the UN to accept this principal for its own governing bodies. As long as we are kept out of the room, these rights are not implemented.
We still have the position that Indigenous Representative Institutions should be granted participatory rights in the UN on the same level as the vast majority of observers to the UN. That is the only level that would reflect Indigenous Peoples’ position in our global community, without confronting or challenging the position of member states in the United Nations.
Indigenous Peoples have contributed to the work of the United Nations over many decades and we are still aspiring to strengthen our work with you, but in order for this to be meaningful, we will need to get into the building.
We are willing to work with you to be able to accomplish our ambitions to contribute to the work of the UN in the name of peace and prosperity for all, including Indigenous Peoples.