Rejecting Bangladesh's concerns over a report on the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord of 1997 by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has adopted it.
In its general segment session ended on July 29 in Geneva, ECOSOC, the parent body of UNPFII, said that it would not delete any paragraph of the report, prepared by a UN rapporteur Lars-Anders Baer on the execution of the accord.
Bangladesh had expressed its concerns in the 10th session of UNPFII in May-end over the forum going beyond its mandate in dealing with the issue of implementation of the CHT accord on the ground that "there are no indigenous peoples in the region".
Bangladesh first secretary to the UN Iqbal Ahmed also raised objections over several points of the report including paragraphs 56 and 58A, which asks the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the UN to develop a mechanism to strictly monitor and screen the human rights records of national army personnel prior to allowing them to participate in peacekeeping operations.
These paragraphs also recommend that the UN prevent human rights violators and alleged human rights violators in the security forces of Bangladesh.
Foreign minister Dipu Moni on July 26 said that Bangladesh was concerned that the 'tribal' people or ethnic minorities in the CHT region were being described as 'indigenous peoples' of the country.
They were wrongly called 'indigenous peoples' in the two paragraphs of the report, she stressed.
At separate meetings with ambassadors and media editors, she said, "The ethnic minorities in the CHT region have been clearly termed as 'Tribal' in the 1997 peace accord, but there are attempts by some vested quarters to establish them as 'indigenous' in some international and UN forums."
ECOSOC said it would not distinguish between indigenous and tribal groups, as highlighted by the Bangladesh government, or take into account its challenge to the jurisdiction of the forum to deal with the CHT peace accord, a statement by the International Council for the Indigenous Peoples of CHT (ICIP-CHT) said on Sunday.
The UNPFII at the end of its session had called on the Bangladesh government to undertake a 'phased withdrawal' of temporary army camps from the CHT, declare a timeframe for implementation of the peace accord and establish an independent commission to inquire into human rights violations perpetrated against the inhabitants of the region as per the 1997 CHT Peace Accord.
The Bangladesh government gave statements in support of its position, and so did the other fifty-four members of ECOSOC. But as Bangladesh lacked backing from other ECOSOC member-states, it went for a 'compromise.'
Some of the several concerns raised by Bangladesh would be included as 'noted', in the nature of a 'footnote', the statement said quoting the ECOSOC.
Reportedly, only China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia supported some of the concerns raised by Bangladesh. Even though Russia showed some leaning towards Bangladesh's stance, they reiterated the importance of the role of indigenous peoples on the international human rights agenda.
"The region is still heavily militarised and there are reports that the military is carrying out gross violations of indigenous human rights," Lars-Anders Baer said while presenting his study report on the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord 1997.
The former UNPFII member said impunity prevailed in the area and stressed that the violators be brought to the justice.
The peace accord between the then Awami League government and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) ended the decade-long bush war between the local inhabitants and the army.
Of some 500 temporary army camps, 200 had been withdrawn by the governments in phases until 2007, and 34 in August and September last year. The six permanent cantonments are still there.
Following is the report from Daily Star:
The Bangladesh government, represented by Abul Kalam Abdul Momen, raised its concern over the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) going beyond its mandate in dealing with the issue of implementing the CHT Peace Accord, on the ground that there are no indigenous people in CHT.
The government also pleaded ECOSOC to delete some paragraphs of its10th session report.
But the request was not accepted following negotiations over the last three days of the weeklong session that ended on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland, said a press release of the International Council for the Indigenous Peoples of CHT (ICIP-CHT).
ECOSOC will not distinguish between indigenous and tribal groups, the release said.
ECOSOC is the parent organisation of UNPFII.
UNPFII assigned a special rapporteur, Lars-Anders Baer, who visited Bangladesh and independently undertook a study on the status of the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord 1997, and submitted a report to UNPFII during the 10th session of the forum in May this year.
In June, UNPFII called on the Bangladesh government to undertake a phased withdrawal of all temporary army camps from CHT, urged it to declare a timeframe for implementation of the CHT Peace Accord, and to establish an independent commission to inquire into human rights violations perpetrated against "indigenous peoples".
UNPFII further recommended that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) review the military personnel and units who are being sent on UN missions, to make sure no personnel or unit is taken from any that are accused by "indigenous Jumma people" of violating human rights in CHT.
At the ECOSOC session Bangladesh had to accept a "compromise" due to lacking solidarity from other 53 member-states. However the concerns of Bangladesh raised at the meeting were included as "noted" in the nature of "footnotes", the release said.
The US, Bolivia, Australia, Mexico, and Morocco welcomed the report's adoption while only China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia provided some support to the concerns raised by Bangladesh, the release added.
The Russian Federation supported the proposed draft amendment to the resolution, and stressed the importance of careful consideration of the definition of indigenous people, and careful interpretation of the UNPFII mandate.
The US said it believes the resolution is consistent with the mandate of the UNPFII.
-------------courtesy: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=196646 -------------
ECOSOC adopts the UNPFII recommendations regarding Implementation of CHT Accord
The link of the UN media statement:
Highlights Area: Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues
The Economic and Social Council adopted a decision on the Report of the Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues on its tenth session and provisional agenda for its eleventh session, in which the
Council took note of the report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on its tenth session and
took note of the importance for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to always continue to adhere to its mandate and take into account the concerns of United Nations Member States, indigenous peoples and all other stakeholders while dealing with particularly situations. The Council also noted that the Permanent Forum should continue to ensure that its studies were conducted in a fully independent transparent, impartial and objective manner and approved the provisional agenda for the eleventh session of the Permanent Forum.
Speaking on this issue were Mexico, Bangladesh, India, Bolivia, the United States, China, the Russian
Federation, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Australia and Morocco.
Action on resolution under social and human rights questions: Permanent Forum on Indigenous
SALVADOR TINAJERO (Mexico) said that a compromise package had been reached in negotiations to orally amend E/2011/54. This was the result of broad consultations and complex negotiations where all States had shown a large degree of flexibility. Mexico asked the Council to adopt the proposal.
SALVADOR TINAJERO (Mexico) orally amended the draft resolution.
The Council adopted, without a vote, as orally amended, a decision contained in report (E/2011/54) on
the Report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on its tenth session and provisional agenda for its eleventh session, in which the Council takes note of the report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on its tenth session; takes notes of the importance for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to always continue to adhere to its mandate and takes into account the concerns of United Nations Member States, indigenous peoples and all other stakeholders while dealing with particularly situation and also notes that the Permanent Forum should continue to ensure that its studies are conducted in a fully independent, transparent, impartial and objective manner; and approves the provisional agenda for the eleventh session of the Permanent Forum.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that for the sake of consensus Bangladesh had
accepted Mexico’s proposal. However, the delegation reiterated its reservations and serious concerns
about the report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The Forum had acted outside its mandate in commissioning a study on the implementation status of the Chittagong Hill Tracks peace accord of 1997 in Bangladesh. It had been brought to the attention of the Forum that the Government of Bangladesh had contrary views on this issue in line with its national views and policies. The Forum had shown total disregard to this principled position of a Member State. The study was conducted in a manner that raised questions of transparency, ethics, impartiality and objectivity relating to its conduct and contents. The Permanent Forum did not adequately respond to the concerns raised and considered the study to make its own recommendations. The Special Rapporteur did not disclose its identity, mandate and objective while interacting with the authorities in a violation of established norms and practices. It was the prerogative of the Council to send a strong and clear message against such a breach of conduct by Forum members.
In making its recommendations, the Forum went beyond its mandate to suggest actions of measures by
entities which was not admissible under the parameters of its terms of reference. The recommendations
addressed to the Government were detrimental to the efforts to implement the peace accords and
strengthen development efforts in the region. Bangladesh had agreed to the compromise text in order to avoid divisiveness within the Council and thanked delegations for their flexibility. Bangladesh requested that this statement was made part of the official records and informed that its Foreign Minister would subsequently submit a letter to the Council to further elaborate on the position of Bangladesh. Bangladesh respected the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. The work of the Forum had helped bring to the fore many shared concerns and challenges facing the indigenous peoples. Bangladesh had and would continue to follow its work with interest and engage in their deliberations a constructive manner.
GOPINATHAN ACHAMKULANGARE (India) said the Government of India was a strong supporter
of the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples and had supported the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. India had expressed its support for
people in independent countries who were regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the
populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belonged, at the time of conquest or colonisation or the establishment of present State boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retained some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.
This was the exact definition used in the International Labour Organization’s Convention concerning
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. India considered the entire population of the India at its independence
and their successors as indigenous. India was disappointed that many reports submitted to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues by various United Nations agencies, funds and programmes had been using the term tribal interchangeably with indigenous in the Indian context. India reiterated that India had a clear understanding on the distinction of the two terminologies and had stated the same in various international forums, including at the United Nations General Assembly. The United Nations system should ensure that it used correct terminology in all public documents and reports. Increasingly, it had been observed in recent Forum meetings that various so-called indigenous gropus were using the platform to make statements and raise issues related to various other minority groups. This resulted in diverting the attention of the Forum from its core concerns of indigenous issues. India thanked all delegations for their consultative and cooperative engagement.
MAYSA URENA MENACHO. (Plurinational State of Bolivia) said that the Plurinational State of
Bolivia had acceded to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well
as the International Labour Organization convention on this issue. The Plurinational State of Bolivia
would like to reserve it position with respect to E/C.19/2011/5 with regard to the mention of REDD+
and REDD++, given that it did not consider that the economic valuation of the forests was a solution for indigenous peoples. The marketing of carbon certificates for forests would bring to noncompliance of reducing emissions by developed countries and most resources would be appropriated by intermediaries and financial institutions, while only few resources would reach the indigenous populations and forests.
This would generate speculation concerning the trading of such certificates and establishing new forms of neocolonialism. The Plurinational State of Bolivia supported the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues since it was the only place in the United Nations where indigenous groups could participate in debates along with Member States, experts and other entities of the United Nations system and supported the recommendations made in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular those related to the international year of quinoa, the ancient practice of chewing coca leaf, a fund of voluntary contributions, the right to water, among others. The Plurinational State of Bolivia noted that for the first time in the history of the United Nations an international conference on indigenous peoples would be held. The modalities resolution of the high level plenary of the General Assembly denominated “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” was a priority and the Plurinational State of Bolivia remained committed to bringing the voice and proposals of indigenous peoples to the preparatory events and to the conference in 2014.
JOHN SAMMIS (United States) expressed appreciation to all delegations for coming up with a consensus agreement. By taking note of the report, the United States underlined that it was not expressing support for the substance of the report and specific recommendations contained therein. The United States believed the resolution was consistent with the mandate of the Permanent Forum but did not set a precedent for future reports.
JIANG YINGFENG (China) welcomed the adoption by consensus of the resolution. China understood
and supported the concerns expressed by Bangladesh. China hoped that the Permanent Forum on
Indigenous Issues could work in accordance with its mandate in a practical and objective manner. It
should not expand at will the concept of indigenous people and put ethnic minorities into the same
category as indigenous people. The facts cited in the report should be substantiated. The report should
carefully take into consideration the views of countries concerned. Only in this way could the rights of
indigenous people be assured.
VLADIMIR YU ZHEGLOV. (Russian Federation) said the issue of indigenous people was an important part of the international human rights agenda. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was a key body in this area. The regional ethnic structures of the world differed and thus it was not possible to employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Generalizations might lead to mischaracterizations and conflicts. The Russian Federation shared the concerns of the delegation of Bangladesh and supported the proposed draft amendment to the resolution taking note of the report. Finally, the Russian Federation stressed the importance of careful consideration of the definition of indigenous peoples and careful interpretation of the Forum’s mandate.
AHMED SULEIMAN IBRAHIM ALAQUIL (Saudi Arabia) expressed support for the statement made
by Bangladesh concerning the report of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and said that Saudi
Arabia shared their concern. Saudi Arabia would like to thank delegations for their flexibility leading to the adoption of a decision on this topic.
AHMAD WARRAICH (Pakistan) welcomed the adoption by consensus of the proposal. The work of
the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was important. Its main objective was to discuss indigenous issues. The report referred to non-indigenous issues and made political recommendations; this was unfortunate and went beyond the mandate of the Forum. Finally, Pakistan emphasized the importance of responsibility and impartiality in the work of the forum.
JACQUES PELLET (France) said France was satisfied that no vote was required. France thanked all
delegations, particularly Bangladesh, for reaching a compromise. France reaffirmed the independence of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the language forged corresponded to a specific situation and did not set a precedent.
RUTH STONE (Australia) said Australia was pleased to reach a consensus on the text and avoid a vote. Australia encouraged a peaceful dialogue between Bangladesh and the Chittagong Hill Tracks. This was a complex and sensitive issue and Australia remained ready to assist. Australia appreciated that the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues remained independent.
ANAS ALAMI-HAMEDANE (Morocco) said Morocco shared the concerns expressed by Bangladesh
and welcomed the adoption by consensus of the text presented.