Indigenous Leaders Meet in Lima, Peru

October 21, 2022



On October 4 the American Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) representing Indigenous peoples from South, Central, and North America met for the II Indigenous Leaders of the Americas Meeting in Lima, Peru preceding the 52nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).

ACIP was able to hold a scaled down meeting of 100 delegates from Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Canada through a grant provided by the Manitoba Métis Federation, the National Government of the Red River Métis. While not all countries in the Americas were able to attend due to fiscal restraints, the meeting provided a platform for the Indigenous Leaders from South America to take a next step in organizing a regional body which will represent South America in the American Council of Indigenous Peoples. To that end, a Commission was established which will continue the work of organizing the regional body for Tawantinsuyu (South America).

The main reason for the meeting was to discuss how Indigenous leaders can make their engagement with the OAS more productive, as well as explore potential ways that Indigenous peoples can be better accommodated in the OAS system to reflect the fact that the Indigenous peoples are the rightful owners, or original peoples of the Americas.

In this context the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ADRIP) adopted by the OAS GA in 2016 was addressed, as well as the 2017 four-year Plan of Action adopted by the GA for implementation of the Declaration and its shortfalls. This Plan was extended last year by the OAS GA for a further 4-year period. The only part of the Plan of Action acted upon by resolution of the OAS GA in early 2018 was the establishment of the Inter-American Week of Indigenous Peoples to be held yearly to coincide around August 9, the International Day of Indigenous Peoples established by the United Nations (UN).

The ACIP Executive (Clem Chartier, President; Hugo Tacuri, Vice-President; and Brooklyn Rivera, Secretary) played an active role in both helping set the agenda of activities for that first Inter-American week, as well as participating as presenters in the session held by the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the Permanent Council. This dedicated week is for the purpose of showcasing and promoting the cultures of the Indigenous peoples from throughout the Americas.

The Plan of Action also called for a special meeting annually of the Committee of Juridical and Political Affairs to "share information on progress, experience, lessons learned, and challenges in the implementation of the ADRIP, which is to be open to participation by representatives of Indigenous peoples. This has not yet happened and Indigenous leaders, while saying addressing Indigenous peoples' cultures is fine, that is not enough. There needs to be at least the one yearly meeting provided for by the Plan of Action so that topics of concern such as Indigenous rights, economic engagement, trade, repression, thefts of Indigenous lands and resources, etc., can be addressed.

There was also an expression for the need of a secretariat within the OAS which can address Indigenous issues and interface with Indigenous peoples on a permanent and consistent basis, as well as some kind of Indigenous-specific mechanism such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or the Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Issues created by the UN, but not necessarily the same.

There is also a need for State governments to contribute to a Specific Fund or Dedicated Fund so that both the OAS and Indigenous peoples will be enabled to address the Plan of Action in a meaningful way.

Further, strong sentiment remains that Indigenous peoples, as the original peoples of this continent, must be accommodated with our own space within the OAS system and not be expected to participate as part of Civil Society.

During the session all delegations from the various countries had an opportunity to make presentations on the situations they face in their respective countries, and all confirmed that forums such as this, and organizations such as ACIP, are critical to them as there is a need for consistent sharing of information, communication, and support.


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