The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples September 2014
Questions and Answers for Maori
What was the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples? The official title of the meeting was the high level plenary meeting of the General Assembly to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (HLPM/WCIP). It was a special one-off session of the General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the United Nations (UN). The meeting was held in New York, September 2014 and was attended by government officials, Indigenous Peoples’ representatives, UN officials and non-governmental organizations.
What did it achieve? The HLPM/WCIP adopted an outcome document that includes commitments by states to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration). The outcome document was heavily influenced by Indigenous Peoples and reflects many of the priorities that Indigenous Peoples had agreed upon during the global indigenous preparatory meeting held in Alta, Norway June 2013. The outcome document reaffirms the solemn commitment of states "to respect, promote and advance and in no way diminish the rights of indigenous peoples", and is a global consensus of specific actions to implement the Declaration.
Did Maori participate? Indigenous Peoples including Maori began their preparations for the HLPM/WCIP in 2012. Tracey Whare, Ngati Raukawa and Te Whanau a Apanui served as the Secretariat of the indigenous global coordinating group, the working group charged with organizing the participation of Indigenous Peoples. Other Maori participated in the Pacific preparatory meeting held in Sydney March 2013, the global indigenous preparatory conference held in Alta, Norway June 2013 as well as other meetings and also worked with other Indigenous Peoples from the Pacific.
What is the significance of the outcome document for Maori? The outcome document contains many recommendations that are aimed at both the national and international level. Recommendations that focus on the national level can be used by Maori in a range of different areas to pursue greater recognition of Maori rights. Here are some of the commitments set out in the outcome document.
- Paragraph 3 states that the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples (hapu and iwi) must be obtained before the adoption and implementation of legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
- Paragraph 7 focuses on achieving the ends of the Declaration as well as promoting awareness of the Declaration amongst the general population.
- Paragraph 8 focuses on the development and implementation of a national action plan to achieve the Declaration.
- Paragraph 9 specifically mentions indigenous persons with disabilities (Maori with disabilities) and notes that policies and programs aimed at their welfare must be developed in conjunction with them.
- Paragraph 18 relates to preventing and eliminating violence and discrimination, and the strengthening of legal, policy and institutional frameworks.
- Paragraph 20 states that the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples (hapu and iwi) must be obtained prior to the approval of projects affecting their lands, territories or other resources.
- Paragraph 25 commits the government to developing policies, programmes and resources to support Indigenous Peoples’ (hapu and iwi) occupations, traditional subsistence activities, economies, livelihoods, food security and nutrition.
- Paragraph 36 states that Indigenous Peoples’ (hapu and iwi) knowledge and strategies to sustain their environment be taken into account when developing national and international approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Some recommendations in the outcome document that relate to action at the international level are:
- Paragraph 28 provides for an existing UN body called the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be modified and improved in order to monitor, evaluate and improve the implementation of the Declaration.
- Paragraph 31 provides for a system wide action plan to be created for the UN system to implement the Declaration.
- Paragraph 33 provides for the General Assembly to consider ways for Indigenous Peoples’ representatives to participate at the UN as representatives of their people and communities and not as non-governmental organizations.