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Joint Declaration of Indigenous Churches at UN Forum

Speaking on behalf of the World Council of Churches as well as indigenous church representatives from the Americas, Asia and Australia, William Chela presented a declaration at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues calling for recognition of the right to life, not only for people, but for Mother Earth, too.

21 May 2009

Eighth Period of Sessions of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

18-29 May, 2009

Theme: Human Rights

World Caucus of Indigenous Churches
World Council of Churches
Council of Indigenous Evangelical Peoples of Ecuador (FEINE)
National Council of Churches of the Philippines
National Council of Churches of Australia
Latin American Council of Churches, Indigenous Peoples Pastoral
Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia
Confederation of Peoples, Organizations, Communities, and Indigenous Evangelical Churches of Chimborazo, Ecuador.
Wisdom and Testimony, General Committee of Global Ministers of the United Methodist Church of the United States

21 May 2009

Madame Chair,

Sisters and brothers, representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of the world and their organizations,

Greetings from the Indigenous Peoples who are fighting for our rights, from Indigenous churches and from Indigenous social movements and organizations, with the hope that God and Mother Earth may bless and enlighten you in this work on behalf of our people.

We Indigenous Peoples have always been subjects of our history, and this is made clear in the testimonies of the struggles, deeds, grievances and accusations that we hear and experience each day. As Indigenous evangelical churches, we affirm our commitment and participation in the construction of a better life, the Sumaj Kawsay/ Suma Qamaña.

We recognize that the right to life is comprised not only of human beings, but also of all forms of life as well as Mother Earth who, for us, is alive. Our spirituality allows us to live in an interconnected manner because we know that all we do can affect the world’s delicate balance. We do not separate our profound spirituality from our political struggles.

We condemn the violence and the accusations of terrorism that the Indigenous People who fight for the rights of our people must endure, especially in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Australia and the Philippines, whose voices have not been brought to this Forum.

We condemn the incomprehensibility of States that sign the Declaration but do little to implement it or, even worse, persecute the Indigenous People that fight for its implementation.

That is why we call on the sisters and brothers who take an active role in our homes, neighbourhoods, communities, and Indigenous churches, from the countryside and the city, to demand that the States implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We recommend:

  • That the Forum promote and support the popularization of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples up to the last village on Earth and that Indigenous churches become centres for information and training of the Peoples.
  • That the Forum recommend that States and ecclesiastical bodies recognize Indigenous churches.
  • That the Forum recommend and promote dialogue and debate on the diversity and spiritual and religious experiences of Indigenous Peoples.
  • That the Forum recommend the recognition of Mother Earth as a legal subject and that Human Rights be expanded to include all forms of life.
  • That the Forum and the UN foster and support the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples of the world, as well as the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 169 and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the States.
  • That the Forum and Indigenous Peoples support Indigenous processes in various countries and that States be declared intercultural and multinational.
  • That the Forum support women’s organizations and their pursuit of participation in organizations and institutions as a fundamental human right.
  • That the Forum request a Special Rapporteur and promote a commission for the investigation, condemnation and promotion of laws against the trafficking of women and the sexual abuse of children, and to condemn from our Forum all forms of violence against women.
  • That the Forum continue visiting the locations where violence and abuse of the rights of Indigenous Peoples is experienced and draw up reports that can impact and change the focus of the application of international law.
  • That the Forum recommend that States protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples against those who contribute to the development of industries that continue to burden Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you very much for allowing us to speak and express our faith.

Presented by Maria Chavez / William Chela, Indigenous Peoples - World Council of Churches