OAS Draft Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Attorney: Kim Jerome Gottschalk

In November 2007, it was agreed that the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (U.N. DRIP) would be used as the foundation for an Organization of American States (OAS) document, in that all the terms of the OAS document would be consistent with, or more favorable to, Indigenous rights than the U.N. DRIP. NARF represents the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in this process.

It was agreed that the terms of the OAS declaration would be based upon a consensus-based decision-making process that included Indigenous representatives. The United States and Canada, who at the time opposed the U.N. DRIP, nevertheless agreed they would not oppose the process moving forward in the OAS.

Disappointingly, the U.S. and Canada do not actively participate in the OAS process even though they both now support the U.N. DRIP. No negotiation sessions were held in 2013 or 2014. The process began again with a three day negotiation session held in February 9-11, 2015. This was followed by sessions on March 9-11, 2015, April 22-24, 2015, and May 13-15, 2015. The hope was to finish the negotiations so the declaration could be submitted to the General Assembly for approval this year, but negotiations were not completed. It remains to be seen if the work will be carried on in the coming year or if political will is lacking.

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