By Ray L Martin
20 – 31 May 2013
UN Headquarters, New York
Special Theme: Review Year
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday 13 September 2007. It was adopted with 144 states in favour. The four votes against were: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. There were eleven abstentions , Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and the Ukraine
One can only wonder what the 12th Session of the United Nation’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will bring.
With the freedoms of world citizens quickly being eroded, an ever-growing international slave trade, environmental catastrophes egged on by amoral profiteers, the constant draining of human and natural resources, illegal wars being waged on sovereign nations ill prepared to meet such aggression, consistent threats to land and human liberty, and well, you know the rest. Will in these most critical and challenging times, the body that in theory stands between the people and authoritarian rapists – will it finally rise to the occasion? And what then is the hope for those who inhabited the land before colonial conquest… the indigenous peoples?
The presumption of hegemonic influence when it comes to the wealthiest and/or most influential nations of the world, specifically the US, whose historical disregard for human rights is well documented and whose self-interest can be plausibly assumed, remains of particular concern. Yet humanity has a resilience. Recently in Indonesia, the Constitutional Court handed down the decision that ‘Customary Forest’ is categorised “in the ancestral domain” which means the territory expressly belongs to indigenous peoples. “Customary Forest” is no longer State Forest which overturns a previously existing article. This forest is essential to the sustenance of at least 32,000 indigenous people who will continue the struggle for their providence over the land that is critical to their survival.