in Honduras, Panama

Central American Indigenous Council raises concerns of “racial intolerance and discrimination” in UN-REDD

Central American Indigenous Council raises concerns of racial intolerance and discrimination in UN-REDD

On 27 February 2013, Panama’s Indigenous Peoples Coordinating Body, COONAPIP, withdrew from the UN-REDD process in Panama. In a letter announcing the withdrawal, COONAPIP explains that UN-REDD “does not currently offer guarantees for respecting indigenous rights” or “the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama”.

On 10 March 2013, Jesus Amadeo Martinez, Senior Advisor to the Central American Indigenous Council (Consejo Indígena de Centro América – CICA), wrote to Kim Bolduc, the UN Resident Coordinator in Panama, in support of COONAPIP. CICA’s letter is posted below (this is based on a google translation from the Spanish original, which is available here [pdf file 451.8 kB]).

In the letter, Martinez writes:

In my capacity as Senior Advisor of the CICA, I worry that the actions of the UN-REDD program in Panama with COONAPIP are not isolated, but form a new practice of racial intolerance and discrimination with Indigenous Peoples and organisations.

He also mentions his concerns about the problems with the REDD process in Honduras, documented in a series of letters from Indigenous Peoples’ organisations. Honduras is one of the six countries whose Readiness Preparation Proposal is being considered by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Participants Committee this week.

On 14 March 2013, the UN-REDD programme responded to COONAPIP’s withdrawal from the REDD process in Panama. UN-REDD’s statement is below. One observer described the response as “a wonderful exercise in combining political correctness with superb vagueness”.

The following day, the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests put out a statement in support of COONAPIP and demanding a response from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Fund. The statement is below in English (translated by the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests) and is available here in Spanish (pdf file 302.9 kB).

On 18 March 2013, COONAPIP produced a statement urging “safeguards for protection against UN REDD”. The statement points out that the agreement between UN-REDD and FCPF makes them both responsible for REDD activities in Panama:

COONAPIP includes the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in its call to renounce and reject the actions of the so-called United Nations Collaborative Programme on the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Panama (UN REDD/ANAM Panama), which has not achieved the consent of our peoples to move forward.

COONAPIP’s statement is below (translation by COONAPIP) and is available here in Spanish (pdf file 203.8 kB).

San Salvador, El Salvador. March 10, 2013

Ms. Kim Bolduc.
UN Resident Coordinator in Panama.

Dear Ms. Bolduc, with warm greetings from Central American Indigenous Council (CICA),

The purpose of this letter is to express our deep concern over the repeated violations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that have been committed by the UN-REDD Programme and the ANAM [National Environment Authority of Panama] with Indigenous Peoples and organizations as part of the preparation processes for REDD+ in Panama. Especially for breach of commitments made ​​by the UN-REDD and the ANAM with COONAPIP, which is a member organisation of CICA.

Note that these unfulfilled commitments, which are not only limited to financial matters, but are directly related to the respect and exercise of individual and collective human rights as Indigenous Peoples that have been secured in multiple international legal instruments. We refer to the right to self-determination, autonomy, consultation as a key tool to ensure implementation of the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) when you want to make administrative decisions, approving plans, programmes or projects that could harm or jeopardise our livelihoods, culture, lands, territories and natural resources, among others.

In my capacity as Senior Advisor of the CICA, I worry that the actions of the UN-REDD program in Panama with COONAPIP are not isolated, but form a new practice of racial intolerance and discrimination with Indigenous Peoples and organisations. In addition, since UN-REDD will also operate as an implementing agency of REDD+ in Honduras, the concern is that the improper relationship and discrimination committed with COONAPIP will be replicated with our member organisation in this country, that is, with the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (CONPAH).

As described above, I ask you for an explanation of the specific actions that the UN Resident Representative in Panama will make so that UN-REDD respects Indigenous rights and fulfills the agreements reached with COONAPIP. We are particularly interested to hear how they are expected to fulfill the mandate with the different agencies of the United Nations (UN), in relation to ensuring the full and effective exercise of indigenous rights set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Waiting for your reply.

Sincerely,

CICA Senior Advisor

CC:

Mr. Silvano Vergara, General Manager of the National Environmental Authority.
General Secretariat of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General.
UN-REDD Secretariat Agency, Director, Yemi Katerere.
World Bank FCPF, Dr. Benoit Bosquet.
UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark Dr.
UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner Dr.
FAO Director-General, Dr. Graziano da Silva.
United Nations Forum on Forests, Ms. Jan McAlpine.
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues of the United Nations, Dr. Mirna unningham.
Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on Indigenous Peoples, Mr. James Anaya.
Norwegian Government Initiative on Forests and Climate, Director Hans Brattskar.
Ministry of Environment of Norway, Advisor, Ms. Ellen Bruzelius Backer.
NORAD REDD, Mr. Ivan Jorgensen.
Norwegian Embassy in Guatemala.
Executive Secretariat of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development, SE-CCAD, Dr. Nelson Trejo.
Regional REDD Programme, GIZ, CCAD, Dr. Laszlo Pancel.
Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), Mr Levi Sucre.
Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, CONPAH, Bayardo German.
Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador CONAIE.
National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC.
Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Rainforest.
Indigenous Confederation of the Amazon Basin (COICA)
Ford Foundation, Dr David Kaimowitz.
International Union for Conservation of Nature, Regional Office for Mesoamerica and Caribbean Initiative UICN-ORMA/IC, Dr. Grethel Aguilar.
Focal Point for Indigenous Peoples and the FCPF, Onel Masardule.
Chris Lang (REDD-Monitor)

14 March 2013

UN-REDD Programme Statement Regarding Recent Communications with
COONAPIP (the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama)

The UN-REDD Programme acknowledges with concern the receipt of the letter from COONAPIP dated 27 February 2012 in which the organization withdraws from the UN-REDD Programme in Panama. The reason COONAPIP provided for this withdrawal is that the Programme did not guarantee respect for the rights of indigenous peoples nor for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in its activities in Panama.

The UN-REDD Programme is taking immediate action to respond to the concerns raised by COONAPIP; this will include a proposal for independent mediation as well as the immediate implementation of the planned independent mid-term evaluation to assess the National Programme in Panama.

From its inception, the UN-REDD Programme has prioritized stakeholder engagement and in particular, engagement with indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. The Programme has made great efforts to promote and respect the rights of indigenous peoples through a number of activities, including ensuring indigenous peoples are represented on the UN-REDD Policy Board and in key decision making processes in the 16 partner countries that have active National Programmes.

The UN-REDD Programme is committed to ensuring adherence to a human-rights based
approach and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and has developed the following Guidelines and Principles to support National Programmes on this: the Guidelines on Stakeholder Engagement in REDD+ Readiness with a focus on Indigenous Peoples and Forest Dependent Communities; the UN-REDD Programme Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); and the Social and Environmental Principles and Criteria (SEPC).

The UN-REDD Programme considers the concerns of its stakeholders to be of the highest importance and will do everything it can to demonstrate to COONAPIP and others its continued commitment to recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

STATEMENT
Indigenous Peoples of Panama refuse to give consent to UN-REDD!

We, the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), have been monitoring the processes of REDD+ in the region and supporting indigenous peoples and forest communities in order to effectively participate in the discussions and national agreements under REDD+.

In this context we are familiar with the work of the joint program of the United Nations to reduce deforestation and forest degradation emissions in Panama, UN REDD-Panama, and the Panamanian government. Since the year 2009, the National Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP) has strongly criticized the process for excluding indigenous peoples. En 2011, CONAPIP presented the Strategic Plan of Political Advocacy (PEIP) 2011-2015. This document covers issues and actions necessary for the indigenous peoples of Panama to begin their discussion process of discussions in the political context of REDD+. But nevertheless, the alliance agreements to implement the PEIP have not been respected by the UN-REDD nor by the Panamanian government, which has now caused the withdrawal of the CONAPIP negotiation.

This experience has generated special concern, precisely because of the UN-REDD case, of the entity of the United Nations System, which is supposed to be the main guarantor of special rights of indigenous peoples, as enshrined in international legal documents.

Given these statements:

    a. We, the AMPB, reject the policy of deception and the marginalization of the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples of Panama by the Panamanian government and by the UN-REDD program.

    b. As the AMPB, we have been supporting and will continue to support the CONAPIP in their struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples of Panama.

    c. We make an impassioned plea to UN-REDD+ and the Panamanian government to resume compliance with the agreements of CONAPIP and instate the PEIP content in its entirety.

    d. The actions of UN-REDD ignore the agreements of CONAPIP and try to realize actions outside of the group of indigenous peoples, which demonstrates that it is acting out of bad faith and becoming a dangerous action, and which comes from an entity that claims to fight for human rights.

    e. The action of the UN-REDD in Panama is a bad precedent for the UN-REDD that could be implemented in other countries. For this reason, we, the AMPB, are following what happens in Panama, to be better prepared when the UN-REDD begins processes in other countries of the regions where there are members of the AMPB, such as in Honduras.

We call on the implementing agencies of the REDD mechanisms and the donating countries of these initiatives to promote processes the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples contained in the Declaration of the United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Convention 169 of the OIT and of Art. 8j, of the CDB.

We demand a statement from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank, since there are bilateral agreements between the FCPF and the UN-REDD Program, which are defined within the guidelines on key elements for effective participation with various agents in the context of preparation for REDD+. These place particular emphasis on the involvement of the indigenous peoples and other communities that depend on forests. This bilateral agreement makes the FCPF co-responsible for the inappropriate actions implemented by its partner in Panama.

We demand a ruling on the case of the UN REDD in Panama from the United Nations headquarters in New York, the FCPF program of the World Bank in Washington, and the government of Norway, the largest donor to the UN REDD program.

Finally, we call on all of the indigenous peoples and local communities of the world to take the necessary measures to guarantee the rights of its peoples to free, prior, and informed consent, to human rights, and to land and territory.

Panama’s Indigenous Peoples urge safeguards for protection against UN REDD
STATEMENT

In 2009, the National Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP) denounced the Panamanian Government, which in complicity with the Forest Carbon
Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN REDD program in Panama, falsely reported having consulted the indigenous peoples of Panama. This action violated the principles of good faith and of Free, Prior and Informed Consent set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which officials of the United Nations are obligated to respect.

In spite of this, and as a sign of good faith, the Indigenous Peoples of Panama agreed to participate, thereby initiating what has become a tortuous relationship, characterized by fundamental inconsistencies and persistent obstacles to the recognition of the provisions in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples regarding land, territories and natural resources (including forests), as well as full and effective participation in the implementation of this program.

COONAPIP points out that the bilateral agreement between the FCPF and UNREDD for the implementation of the REDD program in Panama makes them jointly responsible for all of their actions in Panama; actions characterized by discriminatory policies that limit and ignore current international standards and national legislation regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. In Panama, there are national standards that go beyond the safeguards standards set out in the guidelines that govern these programs. We therefore demand that the FCPF assume its responsibilities in this case.

COONAPIP includes the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in its call to renounce and reject the actions of the so-called United Nations Collaborative Programme on the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Panama (UN REDD/ANAM Panama), which has not achieved the consent of our peoples to move forward. The traditional authorities of COONAPIP, in a Regular Meeting of its General Assembly, through resolution number 2-2013, on February 25th, 2013, decided to categorically withdraw and denounce the UN REDD program.

We Indigenous Peoples of Panama, together through COONAPIP, express that we are fully aware of our role as guardians and protectors of our mother earth and of all of the resources that are spiritually connected with her. Therefore, everything that affects our peoples and our mother earth, such as the effects of climate change in the world, give us particular concern and interest in seeking our own alternative solutions based on our cosmovision.

It is for this reason that we call upon all peoples of the world to be cautious and to show restraint against false expectations of REDD+ initiatives promoted by the FCPF in complicity with UN-REDD.

Given in Panama City on the 18th day of March, 2013.

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  1. It’s interesting to note that while the World Bank is considering the Readiness Preparation Proposal for Honduras, NGOs are writing to the World Bank in protest at the Bank’s support to Grupo Dinant, which is implicated in dozens of murders as well as other human rights abuses.

    Here’s the press release:

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    March 19, 2013

    WORLD BANK MUST END SUPPORT FOR HONDURAN PALM OIL COMPANY IMPLICATED IN DOZENS OF MURDERS

    WASHINGTON (DC), MARCH 19 2013 — Today several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) condemned a statement by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, IFC [1] which defends the record of a Honduran palm oil company, Grupo Dinant, implicated in dozens of murders as well as other human rights abuses.

    The NGOs are : Friends of the Earth International, Global Forest Coalition, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Urgewald, Rights Action, Rettet den Regenwald/Rainforest Rescue, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Biofuelwatch.

    The IFC statement explicitly admits to supporting training for the company’s armed security guards.

    A World Bank Ombudsman [2] is currently investigating an IFC loan of $30 million for Grupo Dinant which was approved in 2009, at least half of which has already been disbursed.

    This month, an Open Letter by 17 NGOs [3] and an international petition signed by over 63,000 people [4] have protested the loan and called on the World Bank to immediately cease their support for Grupo Dinant.

    Since 2009, international human rights bodies have documented dozens of murders of peasant activists and their supporters in connection with land conflicts involving Grupo Dinant, the company’s armed security guards and Honduran military and police.

    The evidence includes a fact-finding mission report by international human rights organisations in March 2011, a hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in October 2011, an international public hearing on human rights in the region in May 2012 [5] and a report about human rights abuses attributed to military forces in the region by Rights Action, published this month [6].

    The recent Rights Action report confirms that at least 88 members and supporters of peasant movements have been murdered in targeted killings in the Bajo Aguan Valley over the past three years. It documents the direct involvement of Grupo Dinant’s armed security forces in the violence against peasant movements. Contrary to the World Bank’s claims that the violence ended in 2012, two peasant activists were found tortured and murdered in February 2013. [7]

    Annie Bird from Rights Action says: “It is a serious indictment of World Bank’s role in Honduras’s land conflicts that their International Finance Corporation admits to directly engaging with the training of Grupo Dinant’s paramilitary `security guards’. It is not clear whether this engagement is a response to concerns over human rights abuses but retraining paramilitaries implicated in killings is never an acceptable response. The World Bank must cease such engagement and stop supporting Grupo Dinant at once.”

    Almuth Ernsting from Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch adds: “The World Bank’s claims that killings are being investigated by Honduran courts with full cooperation from Grupo Dinant contradict the findings of human rights missions which show a state of total impunity surrounding those murders. Such a state of impunity has been confirmed by the UN Working Group on Mercenaries. Not only must the World Bank cancel its loan but there needs to be a full investigation into their role in human rights abuses in Honduras.”

    In 2011, the German development bank, DEG, cancelled a loan for Grupo Dinant due to the company’s involvement in serious human rights abuses.Yet the World Bank continues to back the company and dismiss all independent evidence, as their recent statement shows.

    Jeff Conant from Friends of the Earth US adds: “The World Bank’s statement on Bajo Aguan reveals the extent of their complicity with a palm oil company implicated in some of the most serious human rights abuses in Central America today. Years after a damning audit of their palm oil funding and a supposed overhaul of their policies, the World Bank is legitimising the use of armed paramilitaries in land conflicts against peasants who are trying to reclaim their own land, dismissing a vast volume of evidence from independent fact finding missions.”

    The NGOs demand cancellation of the World Bank’s loan to Grupo Dinant and an immediate full and independent investigation into the World Bank’s involvement with Grupo Dinant, which must go beyond the remit of the current Ombudsman investigation.

    NOTES TO EDITORS:

    [1] http://bit.ly/10gfK2q

    [2] A complaint submitted by Rights Action is currently being investigated by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO). The CAO is an independent agency which investigates complaints filed by communities affected by project funded by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

    [3] http://bit.ly/11hqcJv

    [4] http://bit.ly/15ZBtgG

    [5] http://bit.ly/14bfnK0, http://bit.ly/YqbwS2 and http://bit.ly/ZJahPi

    [6] http://bit.ly/Y3dNs1

    [7] See http://bit.ly/Y3dSff