Davide to faciliate UN negotiations for tribal rights

Jun. 12, 2007

NEW YORK, 12 June 2007 Just three months in his job as Manila’s point person in the United Nations, Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., was entrusted by the President of the 61st Session of the United Nations General Assembly with the task of facilitating negotiations for a draft declaration that would help improve the lives of the over 370 million indigenous people worldwide.

In its report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations reported that Ambassador Davide was formally appointed by General Assembly President Haya Rashed Al Khalifa on Wednesday to undertake consultations on the proposed UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“I am honored by President Al Khalifa’s decision to bestow upon me such an important responsibility,” Ambassador Davide said, adding that the Declaration will also impact on the more than 12 million indigenous peoples of the Philippines.

The Ambassador said he is looking forward to conducting open and inclusive consultations on the issue soon so he could submit his report to President Al Khalifa before the 15 July 2007 deadline given to him.

The General Assembly was supposed to approve the Declaration in December following its adoption by the UN Human Rights Council on 29 June 2006 with a roll-call vote of 30 in favor; two against; and 12 abstentions.

The approval process in the General Assembly was, however, stalled after African Member-States requested more time for consultations on their concerns. As a result, the General Assembly decided to defer consideration and action on the Declaration to allow time for further consultations.

However, the Declaration has to be considered before the end of the 61st Session of the General Assembly in September 2007 and Member-States will have to come back together to act again on the Declaration.

“The Philippines is sympathetic to the sentiment that the indigenous peoples of the world cannot anymore afford a protracted process leading to the adopting of the Declaration,” Ambassador Davide said.

“An instrument that recognizes the need to address the special situation of indigenous peoples will be their beacon of hope that long-awaited changes and reforms will soon be within reach,” said the former Supreme Court Chief Justice who assumed as Philippine Permanent Representative only last February,

In her letter to all the Permanent- Representatives to the UN, President Al Khalifa encouraged Member-States to enter the consultations in a flexible manner and to provide Ambassador Davide with all the necessary support to ensure that the General Assembly would finally foe able to approve the Declaration. END

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