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adopted by the European Parliament in its plenary session in Strasbourg on February 9, 1994

Indigenous peoples


Resolution on action required internationally to provide effective protection for indigenous peoples

The European Parliament

- having regard to the motion for a resolution by Mr. Christiansen and others on the implementation of effective international legislation on the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples in the world in order to protect our planet and all its inhabitants (B3-1519/91),

- having regard to its numerous resolutions on the protection of human rights,

- having regard to its resolution of 12 March 1992 on 1992, indigenous peoples and the quincentenary,

- having regard to Rule 15 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security and the opinion of the Committee on Development and Cooperation (A3­059/94),

A. whereas the most commonly used definition of indigenous peoples is that given in ILO Convention No. 169; whereas, according to UN estimates, such communities represent 300 million individuals spread over almost 4000 peoples,

B. convinced that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of the civilizations and cultures which constitute mankind's common heritage,

C. whereas many international texts, in particular the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO Convention No: 169, set out in detail that inalienable basic rights of all human beings, including that of determining their ?political status by freely choosing their way of :economic, cultural and social development,

D. whereas the United Nations Organization, despite its name, represents only states and not peoples, and solutions to many problems concerning peoples, particularly indigenous peoples, are therefore difficult to find within it,

E. regretting that, in general, international treaties quite simply neglect the rights of indigenous peoples, even if it is they who must bear the direct or indirect consequences thereof,

F. noting that certain states have concluded treaties with indigenous peoples in the past and that some of those treaties have been shamelessly violated; whereas in this connection, in the context of increasing impoverishment, indigenous peoples are often the first to be dispossessed of rights, land and resources,,

G. dismayed by the violence of every kind to which indigenous peoples have been subjected in the past, and still are; whereas, in this connection, the UN has recognized the right to intervene when fundamental human rights are under serious threat,

1. Adopts the definition of indigenous peoples given by the ILO in its Convention No. 169 and believes that this convention together with the Kari Oca Declaration (Rio, June 1992) and the declaration of the UN conference in Vienna on the rights of indigenous peoples (June 1993) are the benchmark texts in this regard;

2. Declares that pursuant to UN provisions, and in the context of a non?violent and fully democratic procedure with due regard for the rights of other citizens, indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own destiny by choosing their institutions, their political status and that of their territory;

3. Take the view that the UN must take advantage of its 5Oth anniversary to make its bodies more democratic and more effective by enabling peoples without a state, in particular indigenous peoples, to be better represented, especially by involving them in the work of the General Assembly;

4. Solemnly reaffirms that those belonging to indigenous peoples have, just as any other human being has, the right to life, to respect, the right to freedom of thought and action, to physical security, to health, to justice and to equality concerning the right to work, to housing, to education and to culture; this right to a separate culture must involve the right to use and disseminate their mother tongue and to have the tangible and intangible features of their culture protected and disseminated and to have their religious rights and their sacred land respected;

5. Calls for censuses to be taken of indigenous peoples in the states in which they are established;

6. Calls for indigenous peoples to be given help in marketing the craft products made by indigenous peoples, with verification of origin;

7. Declares that indigenous peoples have the right to the common ownership of their traditional land sufficient in terms of area and quality for the preservation end development of their particular way of life, such land to be placed at their disposal free of charge; it will therefore be indivisible, non?transferable, imprescriptible and cannot be rented;

8. Takes the view that, with regard to legal matters, those belonging to indigenous peoples have the right to a qualified defence lawyer and to full information about their rights, with the assistance of an interpreter if necessary, and that, as far as is compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, preferences should be given to the use of customary law to judge their offences;

9. Declares that indigenous peoples who have been robbed of their rights must be able to obtain fair compensation; lf deprivation involves the loss of land, this will be made good, first and foremost, by returning the land in question or, alternatively, by providing land at least equal in terms of quality and size to that which has been lost;

10. Calls in the strongest possible terms on states which in the past have signed treaties with indigenous peoples to honour their undertakings, which remain imprescriptible, and in this connection gives its firm backing to the UN special rapporteur responsible for studying and resolving this problem;

11. Reaffirms the positive contribution of indigenous peoples' civilizations to mankind's common heritage and the essential role which they have played and which they must continue to play in the conservation of their natural environment;

12. Considers that the European Union, but also the United Nations, should take all possible stops to ensure that international treaties, policies and the activities of commercial undertakings do not, either directly or indirectly, adversely affect the rights of indigenous peoples; calls in this connection for the Council and the Commission to make a precise political statement on Indigenous peoples;

13. Calls on the Commission and the Council to make a tangible contribution to the International year of Indigenous Peoples and to this end calls for: criteria to be drawn up for the financing of Community projects in the light of the rights of Indigenous peoples, indigenous peoples to be directly involved, as part of development and cooperation policy, in projects concerning them, European officials to be given special training and assigned for following up questions concerning indigenous peoples, the technical and legal information intended for indigenous peoples' representatives to be enhanced, appropriate budget lines to be clearly allocated for the defence of the rights of these peoples;

14. Undertakes to set up, at the beginning of the next parliamentary term, an interparltamentary delegation composed of Members of this Parliament and representatives of :indigenous peoples and instructs its Subcommittee on Human Rights to monitor questions concerning their rights very closely;

15. Calls en the Member States of the European Union to show their determination to provide tangible protection for indigenous peoples by acceding to ILO Convention No, 169 and by calling en other states to do the same;

16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Secretary General of the UN, the Secretary of the UN Subcommittee en Sustainable Development and the Secretary of the UN Commission on Human Rights.