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Document presented by the delegation from the Mapuche Inter-regional Council 

Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
15th Period of Sessions
July 28-August 1st 1997

Item 8 of the Agenda

United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples.

Thank you Madam Chair,

The indigenous peoples have long awaited the opportunity to occupy a just position of participation, which would allow us to express our points of view on matters of humanity which concerns us directly. The survival of many of our people is constantly threatened by policies imposed using colonial methods and techniques of assimilation, which in certain cases invites unavoidable conflicts. In many cases the existence of indigenous peoples has been frequently denied, strongly affecting our individual and collective fundamental rights.

It is imperative that a Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples be established at a higher level within the the United Nations structure, which  is only an initial step towards the settlement of the debt owed to us by states.

We must point out that many states were formed on the basis of the extermination of indigenous peoples and that even though the methods have changed in many latitudes of the world, the rights of the indigenous peoples still remains ignored.

Madam Chair, our organisation the Mapuche Inter-regional Council supports the establishment of a Permanent Forum, and we believe that a higher degree of indigenous participation for matters concerning plannning and operation should definitely be established to mark the Indigenous Peoples Decade proclaimed by the United Nations. Furthermore, we would like to point out that the formulation of a definition for the concept "indigenous" should not impede the development of this initiative, since communities and individuals have the right to self-determination.

In establishing a Forum for Indigenous Peoples it is imperative that we freely and democratically elect our representatives without any form of pressure, and that states engage themselves in providing the conditions and facilities for this process to become a reality.

With regard to the creation of the forum and the level at which it should be established within the UN system and where its reports should be submitted, we believe should be at highest possible level in the ECOSOC. This must be considered as part of the reform and democratisation process of the United Nations structures. In addition we consider that its mandate should not have limitations regarding its issues, economical, socio-cultural, human rights and environment areas.

With respect to its finance, this should be included within the regular United Nations' budget without prejudice towards voluntary contributions. We suggest to the Working Group that you use the necessary efforts in order to distribute all information and suggestions of the final document relating to the Perment Forum, to indigenous organisations and other organisations concerned.

Finally,as the second Millenium approaches we urge governments to show generosity and carry out their duty in promoting understanding, tolerance, and cultural diversity.

Madam chair, thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak,

Aldisson Anguita                         Reynaldo Mariqueo
General Coordinator                   International Coordinator

Geneva, 30th July 1997

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