Rudolph Ryser: State Department 'consultation' was a charade

Rudolph Ryser of the Center for World Indigenous Studies says State Department doesn't want to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
The US Department of State’s Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor invited American indigenous governments to a “consultation” on May 9. This meeting in Washington, D.C. commenced just three days before the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues began its 13th Session in New York. Rumor had it that the State Department planned to use a 600-seat assembly hall at which US officials would give indigenous officials time for scheduled two-minute speeches and then listen and perhaps comment. The expectation was that indigenous leaders would talk about their views concerning the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) and some proposals for conference topics. The plan was to meet with indigenous governmental leaders for a little more than two hours. Then, separately, State representatives would meet with indigenous organizations and groups for another two hours. What was the intended outcome? The State Department wouldn’t say.

Only after strong "encouragement" by the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), did the State Department belatedly issue an agenda and explanation of the “consultation.” No indication was given whether the US government would state its policies regarding the World Conference and the UN Declaration--not surprising, given that the US government had consistently made it clear that it opposes language Declaration language such as “self-determination,” “territory,” “collective rights” and the principle of “free, prior and informed consent.”

The State Department’s description of the “consultation” stated that individuals seeking to speak must give advance notice by email, and individuals would be given two minutes to speak, after which federal officials would comment. Tribal governments would be asked to comment on six topics including violence against women, indigenous nations participation in the UN, participation in the WCIP, establishing a UN monitoring body concerned with the UN Declaration and working inside the UN to implement the UN Declaration, essentially reducing the “consultation” to a list of time slots. This begs the question: What would Indian nations get? What would be the benefit politically or strategically that Indian officials could expect after traveling to Washington DC for this meeting to speak for only two minutes? Such a charade could not be called an intergovernmental meeting much less a “consultation.” The US government would be the only beneficiary since it would be able to tell the UN and other governments, “we met with the Indians.”

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Rudolph C. Ryser: What Indian Nations Got on May 9 (Indian Country Today 6/2)

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