[ENG] Africa: Declaration Of Indigenous Peoples At The Second International Forum Of Indigenous Peoples Of Central Africa (FIPAC 2) Impfondo, 15 to 18 March 2011 We, Indigenous Peoples of Central Africa, specifically the Republic of Burundi, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Republic Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe and Chad welcome the participants of the 2nd International Forum of Indigenous Peoples Central Africa, and thank the Government of the Republic of Congo and development partners who have contributed to the maintenance and success of this event.

This second edition of FIPAC is an opportunity for us to learn from experiences of implementing the recommendations of the first edition, and to raise the attention of policymakers, partners, and non-Indigenous communities to changes in the institutional, economic, political and global environmental context and to formulate again to their attention a number of expectations and suggestions for the sustainable management of natural resources and Central African forests and the promotion of rights and culture of indigenous peoples.

Preparatory meetings for our participation in FIPAC 2 gave us the opportunity to assess progress and to identify bottlenecks, constraints and challenges that continue to influence our lives.

1. Concerning the classification of Indigenous Peoples, we observe that generally, we are still very often described by fuzzy concepts and placed in very ambiguous categories:

a. We do not consider ourselves necessarily as a social minority, because in many regions and in many circumstances, we are demographically the majority;

b. Similarly, although we are quite vulnerable due to our cultural, economic and political situation, we consider that it is wrong to classify us at the same level of vulnerability as other vulnerable groups of society. Ours is specific and requires a special treatment;

c. The other aspect is the classification of certain indigenous members in large social groups that have components which have nothing to do with the IP. This is the case of the Mbororo in Cameroon, CAR and Chad, who are classified as large category PEUL. This classification is an injury to the Mbororo community which is very fragile, vulnerable and more a minority compared to the Peul who are themselves a majority, politically installed in positions with responsibilities at all levels, both intellectually and economically stronger than Mbororos.

d. Policies and official statements of the Government of Rwanda still constitute a real constraint on free expression and promotion of indigenous identity in this country. We call the Government of Rwanda, COMIFAC and partners to take into account the special situation of the PA in the Great Lakes countries and to grant them a special status to enable them to join together and express themselves freely as IP;

2. Given the low participation of indigenous peoples in national and international decision making, we ask States, projects and programs to develop various levels of effective mechanisms to ensure the presence and active participation of IP downstream and upstream decision-making bodies on issues and concerns affecting them. It would be useful to apply, at least for a while, a policy of affirmative action, which will ensure the integration of representatives of IP in various decision-making and concerted national and subregional concerntation bodies.

3. The IP consider FIPAC and REPALEAC as the most able bodies to make their voices heard, to promote a dialogue with others and to coordinate the actions and contributions of Indigenous Peoples in Central Africa in order to join the indigenous world movement. We invite COMIFAC and partners to address seriously and on a voluntary and generous manner, on the issue of the institutionalization of FIPAC and the restructuration and organisational strengthening of REPALEAC. It would be a mistake to let those two bodies die. However, we emphasize the need for this institutionalization and restructuration process to be participatory and not imposed by policy makers or partners.

a. The institutionalization of FIPAC must first evaluate the benefits and constraints on the IP and consider the role of an institutionalized FIPAC taking into account the role and responsibilities already devolved at REPALEAC;

b. We promote the institutionalization of FIPAC with an REPALEAC playing a central role in it. We strongly suggest that the question of how the institutionalized FIPAC will function and how the IP will be represented within its leadership should be discussed and decided on a participatory basis with all national networks of REPALEAC.

4. Regarding the land issue, we continue to face the denial of our rights. We are aware of the changing contexts and know that we can not live the full dimension of our culture any more. There is a need to adapt. But this adaptation should be gradual and accompanied, to avoid the disappearance of our cultures and the extinction of our peoples. The issue of land rights is fundamental to this process of adaptation and promotion of our culture; a. The issue of land rights of IP goes beyond the simple issue of land ownership. Land ownership is essential for our ties to the land, considering the forced settlement we face and to secure our space in a context of settlement. However, land ownership is only one element in the IP’s issue of land rights. Our rights include, in addition to the issue of land:

i. The rights to use transversal spaces to meet our cultural and economic needs;

ii. The rights to cross-border movements and through the entire national territories;

iii. The rights to draw on special resources for cultural and religious needs;

iv. Etc. 5. With regard to the emerging issues and challenges such as climate change and the REDD mechanism, we suggest that an emphasis should be placed on IP to adapt to Climate Change because there is a risk that REDD constitute once more a burden for the IP, and a factor of land theft by the politico-economic interests, whose impacts on the IP are likely to be disastrous. We will never accept REDD and other mitigation policies and adaptation that ignore the basic rights of the IP.

In conclusion, we note that, despite efforts and the progress already achieved, the status of IP continues to be that of marginalized and excluded peoples, which are unfairly treated and shamelessly exploited by our neighbors, traders and even development and conservation partners.

Considering all this, we ask the decision makers and partners to accompany us in our process of integration into the global society, in order to be considered equally to the other citizens.

Thank you. Made Imfondo, March 15, 2011

The participants

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