IIFB opening statement

Her er IIFBs opening statement:

I welcome you on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia.

We indigenous peoples of the world come here united.

Our thought is like the stream of a great river that is fed by its tributaries that are the thoughts of the diverse indigenous peoples of the world.

We have come here to negotiate an international regime that deals with our traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources.

Traditional knowledge is very important to us.

Due to its nature, is intimately and closely linked to our ancestral territories, to mother earth, and to the identity of our peoples.

Traditional Knowledge is dynamically created and recreated based on cultural principles of balance, harmony and connectivity with all forms of life.

Traditional Knowledge is tangible and intangible, holistic and integral, and integrating.

Traditional Knowledge secures practices which guarantee our physical and spiritual continuity under the principles of reciprocity, complementarity, and an ethic of solidarity, to reach the good way of life.

We come to this meeting from Montreal with positive feelings towards a legally-binding international regime on ABS, knowing that our concerns had been taken into account in the text of the Montreal annex, and knowing that many Parties are supporting our rights and interests.

This is in harmony with the international developments in recognition of our identity as peoples and our rights.

We are deeply disappointed however that the draft protocol does not include our rights and interests that had been supported in the Montreal annex.

If we are to go forward in achieving an agreed protocol for the international regime then certain key issues must be included now in the draft protocol.

These are minimum and necessary requirements

  1. The protocol shall state in the preamble that the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities are respected.
  2. Where traditional knowledge is being accessed, the prior informed consent of the indigenous peoples and local communities must be obtained, and this shall not be subject to national legislation.
  3. The protocol shall recognise the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to genetic resources.
  4. The importance and relevance of traditional knowledge shall be fully integrated throughout the protocol, especially in the Compliance section.
  5. The protocol shall recognise the existence and role of customary laws of indigenous peoples and local communities.

We want to make it clear that each of these requirements is already included in the Montreal annex.

Our delegations of indigenous peoples and local communities have made much effort during negotiations in this working group, and the Working Group on Article 8(j), to explain that our fundamental rights and interests in these particular areas are vitally important to our well- being.

If any of these requirements are overlooked in the protocol then we cannot accept the continued negotiations will result in a fair and equitable regime for the access to genetic resources and benefit- sharing.

We do not agree with the view that the CBD does not have human rights implications.

Such arguments have no basis in law.

The Convention on Biological Diversity makes it clear that all rights of States must be exercised “in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law”.

The Charter of the United Nations requires all States to “achieve international cooperation by “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights … for all without distinction”.

There is no exception in the UN Charter that indicates that environmental instruments are exempt from respecting human rights.

We are prepared to continue negotiations if good faith can be demonstrated.

It is the International Year of Biodiversity and we call upon all Parties to now show their commitment to achieving a fair and equitable international regime for Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing.

22 MARCH 2010, WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT SHARING, 9TH SESSION

CALI, COLOMBIA

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