OAS Draft Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Attorney: Kim Jerome Gottschalk

The adoption of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (U.N. DRIP) has impacted the Organization of American States (OAS) process. NARF also represents NCAI in this process. In November 2007 it was agreed that the U.N. DRIP would be used as the foundation for an 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.

It was further agreed that the terms of the OAS declaration would be agreed upon through a consensus based decision making process which includes 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.

The most recent OAS negotiation session was held April 2012 in Washington, D.C. Disappointingly the U.S. and Canada did not actively participate even though they both now support the U.N. DRIP. The session lasted only three days and progress was hampered by the lack of funding to enable the Indigenous caucus to meet ahead of time and work on its proposals. There was one highlight, however, with the approval of a treaty provision supporting the understanding of the indigenous peoples involved in any given treaty. No additional negotiation sessions have been set for 2013 as of this time. It is not clear that the political will exists among the states of the OAS to make the Declaration a priority.

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