Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Marcus Colchester, and Richard Bourne


Britain's covert operations in Colombia, which pose a threat to the
country's indigenous peoples are matched by the Foreign Office's
opposition to the recognition of indigenous peoples' collective rights
at the UN.

The UN's declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, already
stuck in UN committees for 10 years, is aimed at ending 500 years of
discrimination and signalling international recognition of the right
to self-determination and control of their lands. Britain's opposition
now makes acceptance of this declaration unlikely.

For hundreds of years, the crown recognised the territorial rights of
indigenous peoples and signed treaties with indigenous "nations".
Recent privy council decisions have acknowledged indigenous peoples'
rights to their lands and there are strong precedents in international
law. However, the Foreign Office now argues there are no collective
human rights. Thirty years of indigenous peoples' appeals for
recognition of their rights have been slapped down. We enter the 21st
century with a government with a more colonial mindset than in
colonial times.

Dr Marcus Colchester,
Forest Peoples Programme

Richard Bourne,
Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake