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TITLE: Declaration on Indigenous peoples' rights to genetic resources and indigenous knowledge -and- collective statement on an international regime on access and benefit sharing
AUTHORS: Indigenous peoples and organizations meeting at the Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York, 14-25 May 2007) PUBLICATION: ICPB-Net (Indigenous Peoples' Council on Biocolonialism) DATE: 20 May 2007 URL: http://lists.ipcb.org/listinfo.cgi/ipcb-net-ipcb.org


DECLARATION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' RIGHTS TO GENETIC RESOURCES AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE

Convened at the Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
May 14-25, 2007
New York, New York

We, the undersigned Indigenous peoples and organizations, having convened during the Sixth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, from May 14-25, 2007, upon the traditional territory of the Onondaga Nation present the following declaration regarding our rights to genetic resources and indigenous knowledge:

Reaffirming our spiritual and cultural relationship with all life forms existing in our traditional territories;

Reaffirming our fundamental role and responsibility as the guardians of our territories, lands and natural resources;

Recognizing that we are the guardians of the Indigenous knowledge passed down from our ancestors from generation to generation and we reaffirm our responsibility to protect and perpetuate this knowledge for the benefit of our peoples and our future generations;

Strongly reaffirming our right to self-determination, which is fundamental to our ability to carry out our responsibilities in accordance with our cultural values and our customary laws.

Strongly reaffirming our commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the Human Rights Council, including, Article 31, which establishes that:

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.

2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.

Recalling the Declaration of Indigenous Organizations of the Western Hemisphere, Phoenix, Arizona (February 1995), which asserted, "Our responsibility as Indigenous peoples is to ensure the continuity of the natural order of all life is maintained for generations to come ... We have a responsibility to speak for all life forms and to the defend the integrity of the natural order. ... We oppose the patenting of all natural genetic materials. We hold that life cannot be bought, owned, sold, discovered or patented, even in its smallest form."

Recalling the Beijing Declaration of Indigenous Women, issued at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, which stated that "We demand that our inalienable rights to our intellectual and cultural heritage be recognized and respected. We will continue to freely use our biodiversity for meeting our local needs, while ensuring that the biodiversity base of our local economies will not be eroded. We will revitalize and rejuvenate our biological and cultural heritage and continue to be the guardians and custodians of our knowledge and biodiversity."

Recalling the Ukupseni Declaration, at Kuna Yala, Panama, 12-13 November 1997, which declared that "We reject the use of existing mechanisms in the legalization of intellectual property and patent systems use of existing mechanisms including intellectual property rights and patents to legalize the appropriation of knowledge and genetic material, whatever their source, and especially that which comes from our communities."

Recalling the International Cancun Declaration of Indigenous Peoples at the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference - Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, (12 September 2003), which stated, "Stop patenting of life forms and other intellectual property rights over biological resources and indigenous knowledge. Ensure that we, Indigenous Peoples, retain our rights to have control over our seeds, medicinal plants and indigenous knowledge."

Concerned by the accelerated elaboration and negotiation of an international regime on access and benefit sharing under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the nation-states who are Parties to the Convention failure, to date, to recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples to control access to, and utilization of, the genetic resources that originate in our territories, lands and waters.

Therefore, we urge the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to

1. Prepare a legal analysis on States, peoples and sovereignty and their relationship, scope and application, to assist the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in understanding sovereignty in the context of the Convention and the role of sovereignty in developing an international regime on ABS;

2. Recommend to the Convention on Biological Diversity that, consistent with international human rights law, states have an obligation to recognize and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples to control access to the genetic resources that originate in their lands and waters, and associated traditional knowledge. Such recognition must be a key element of the proposed international regime on ABS.

3. Prepare a report on the social, cultural and economic impacts of commercialization of genetic resources and indigenous knowledge on Indigenous peoples.

4. Disseminate this Declaration and the above recommended reports to all relevant UN fora.

Indigenous Peoples and Organizations Supporting the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples' Rights to Genetic Resources and Indigenous Knowledge

1. Andes Chinchasuyo, Ecuador
2. Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and Youth
3. Tonatierra
4. Rapa Nui Parliament
5. Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
6. International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
7. Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism (IPCB)
8. Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development
9. Native Women's Advocacy Center
10. Native Women's Association of Canada
11. South Asia Indigenous Women Forum
12. Indigenous Peace Commission, Nepal
13. Indigenous Women Republic Front, Nepal
14. American Indian Law Alliance
15. Fundación Cholsamaj
16. Centro de Estudios Integrados para el Desariollo Comunal
17. Centro de Proyectos para el Desariollo Comunal
18. Turaga Nation
19. Vanuatu Indigenous Peoples Forum
20. Columbia River Education, Economic Development
21. Diné Care
22. Dewan Adat Papua Jayapura
23. Juventud Indigena Argentine
24. Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra
25. El Molo People
26. El Molo Eco-Tourism Rights and Development Forum
27. Tatanka Oyate (Buffalo Nations)
28. Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations
29. Instituto Indígena Brasileiro para Propriedade Intelectual (INBRAPI)
30. Sutsuin Jiyeyu Wayúu - Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu
31. Red de Mujeres Indígenas Wayúu
32. Consejo Nacional de la Mujeres Indígena
33. Tob Qom Choco Argentine
34. Chirapaq, Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Peru
35. Ecuador CONAIE
36. Consejo de Todo los Tierra - Mapuche Chile
37. Corporacion de Mujeres Mapuche
38. Federacion de Pueblos de Pichincha
39. Nacionalidad Waorani Del Ecuador
40. Asociacion de Comunidades Indígenas
41. Fundacion Para la Promocion del Concimiento Indígena
42. Luz y Vida, Ecuador
43. Cultural Conservation Act (CCA)
44. International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests


United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Sixth Session, May 14-25, 2007
New York, New York

Agenda Item 3: Special theme "Territories, lands and natural resources"

COLLECTIVE STATEMENT ON AN INTERNATIONAL REGIME ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT SHARING

Madame Chair, we thank you for this opportunity to present this collective statement on behalf of several Indigenous peoples' organizations. We welcome this special theme on territories, lands and natural resources and the Permanent Forum's interest and concern regarding the international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS) currently being elaborated and negotiated under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This proposed regime will establish the international rules by which states and corporations will commercialize genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Indigenous peoples know that means that our traditional medicines and our foods are at risk of theft and exploitation. While States claim national sovereignty over natural resources, they have been unwilling to recognize our rights to the genetic resources that originate within our territories, lands and waters in their negotiations thus far.

At this point, it is unclear, whether any future ABS regime will be binding or non-binding. Of course, developing countries are strongly pushing for a binding regime, while developed countries are resisting commitment to any binding regime. To date, Indigenous peoples' nations and organizations participating in the CBD processes, through the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), have reserved commitment to support either a binding or non-binding regime because it is premature given the unclear status of recognition and protection of our rights within the proposed regime. Parties to the CBD need to recognize our rights to genetic resources and Indigenous knowledge based on the minimum standards set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous peoples have consistently advocated for the protection of our human rights within the proposed regime. The IIFB has previously stated: We have inherent and inalienable rights and we are owners of traditional knowledge and biological resources. There is no doubt that the proposed international regime will have a profound impact on our traditional knowledge and genetic resources originating from our territories. To date, the Parties' proposals fail to recognize our collective human rights.

Unfortunately, our calls for recognition and protection of our rights have largely fell on deaf ears. Therefore, we welcome the following important conclusions of the UNPFII's International Expert Group Meeting that:

1) international human rights law affirms indigenous peoples' human rights, including cultural rights and rights to lands, waters, territories and natural resources, genetic resources and traditional knowledge (E/C.19/2007/8, para 38);

2) any international regime on ABS must not be in violation of those rights and that parties are obliged to guarantee that they will recognize and respect those rights (E/C.19/2007/8, para 38); and

3) peoples hold sovereign rights to natural resources within their territories, and the parties to the CBD are bound to respect those rights. (E/C.19/2007/8, para 39).

In order to further these most critical conclusions and to bring expert human rights analysis to the CBD, we support the recommendation that the Permanent Forum prepare a legal analysis on States, peoples and sovereignty and their relationship, scope and application, to assist the parties to the Convention in understanding sovereignty in the context of the Convention and the role of sovereignty in developing an international regime on ABS. (E/C.19/2007/8, para (o)).

In such a legal analysis, it must be made clear that Indigenous peoples' rights with regards to an international regime on ABS are not limited to Indigenous knowledge. Rather our rights include rights over genetic resources, both those that are associated with our Indigenous knowledge, and more broadly to all genetic resources that originate in our territories, lands and waters whether or not associated directly with Indigenous knowledge.

This legal analysis must also make clear that Indigenous peoples' rights in this context are not just economic in nature or limited to benefit sharing. Indeed, without recognition of Indigenous peoples' rights to control access to both their genetic resources and Indigenous knowledge, no benefit sharing process will be fair and equitable.

For Indigenous peoples, who are often the most marginalized and impoverished peoples of the world, the promises of benefit sharing agreements may be alluring. By virtue of their right of self-determination, it is of course, the prerogative of Indigenous peoples to make their own decisions about benefit sharing agreements. Before entering into a benefit sharing agreement, Indigenous peoples must understand that by entering such an agreement, they are submitting to a legal jurisdiction entirely foreign to their own systems of management and protection of natural resources and knowledge. Those who agree to benefit sharing must accept that patent laws will govern the ownership of the products derived from their genetic resources. A patent is a necessary step in securing commercial control over a product derived from a genetic resource.

At the "Workshop on Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Rights of Indigenous Peoples" held in Geneva in July 2003, the Indigenous experts concluded that, "patenting and commodification of life is against our fundamental values and beliefs regarding the sacredness of life and life processes and the reciprocal relationship which we maintain with all creation." Those words remembered, it becomes important for Indigenous peoples to evaluate whether the patenting of life, which will necessarily occur in a benefit sharing arrangement concerning genetic resources, is consistent with our fundamental Indigenous cultural values, principles, and laws.

Recommendations:

1. The Permanent Forum should prepare a legal analysis on States, peoples and sovereignty and their relationship, scope and application, to assist the parties to the Convention in understanding sovereignty in the context of the Convention and the role of sovereignty in developing an international regime on ABS.

2. The UNPFII should recommend to the CBD that, consistent with international human rights law, states have an obligation to recognize and protect the rights of Indigenous peoples to control access to the genetic resources that originate in their lands and waters, and associated traditional knowledge. Such recognition must be a key element of the proposed international regime on ABS.

Agreeing Organizations:

1. Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism (IPCB)
2. Call of the Earth Llamado de la Tierra (COE)
3. South Asia Indigenous Women's Forum
4. Indigenous Information Network (IIN)
5. African Indigenous Women's Organizations (AIWO)
6. Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
7. International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
8. Western Shoshone Defense Project (WSDP)
9. Carribbean Antilles Indigenous Peoples Caucus (CAIPCD)
10. Native Women's Advocacy Center (NWAC)
11. International Indigenous Peoples Think Tank (IIPTT)
12. Indigenous People (Bethechilokono) of Saint Lucia Governing Council (BGC)
13. Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)
14. Andes Chinchasuyo
15. Guaman Poma Ayala
16. Luz Yuida
17. Seventh Generation Fund (SGF)
18. Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET)
19. Red de Mujeres Indigenas Sobre Biodiversidad/Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network
20. Fundacion Para la Promocion del Conocimiento Indigena (FPCI)
21. Asociación de Comunidades Indigenas (ACOIN)
22. Indigenous Women's Caucus
23. Juventud Indigena Argentine


GOING FURTHER (compiled by GRAIN)

"United Nations: Indigenous forum discusses ways global anti-poverty goals can better reflect socio-economic interests of native, tribal peoples", WebWire, 19 May 2007.
http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=36741

Haider Rizvi, "Indigenous leaders bring eco-sense to UN", OneWorld US, 18 May 2007
http://us.oneworld.net/article/view/149394/1/

Justin Bergman, "UN Panel: Indigenous people threatened", Associated Press, 14 May 2007. [Indigenous people are being pushed off their lands to make way for biofuel crops around the world]
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8P4H1381&show_arti cle=1&cat=0

Matthew Russell Lee, "As African nations oppose indigenous rights treaty, stories from Botswana and Rwanda", Inner City Press, 16 May 2007.
http://www.innercitypress.com/unpfii051507.html.

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)
http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii

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