COONAPIP, the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama, has withdrawn from the UN-REDD process in Panama. In a letter to the UN, COONAPIP explains that UN-REDD “does not currently offer guarantees for respecting indigenous rights [nor for] the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama.”
In a previous letter, dated 20 June 2012, COONAPIP wrote that the process “has been riddled with incongruences and inconsistencies” and that “We feel used in this process.”
In a Resolution from a meeting on 25 February 2013, COONAPIP calls on Indigenous Peoples,
“to proceed with caution and to take the necessary measures to avoid being tricked by United Nations bodies and officials, who have the legal obligation to comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Ironically, UN-REDD recently released its Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
Below is a statement by Hector Huertas, Legal Counsel to COONAPIP, explaining the decision to withdraw from the UN-REDD process, followed by COONAPIP’s letter dated 27 February 2013, and Resolution No. 2-2013 dated 25 February 2013 (translations by COONAPIP). The Spanish versions can be downloaded here: Letter (pdf file 234.5 kB) and Resolution 2-2013 (pdf file 1.2 MB).
The National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP) is a body with representation from the seven Indigenous Peoples of Panama and was identified by the UN-REDD Programme as a key actor in planning the national REDD strategy for Panama. However, COONAPIP is concerned that in the “consultation” process both the government of Panama and UN officials refuse to comply with indigenous rights recognized by the Panamanian State and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
For example, the officials refuse to recognize that almost 76% of the forests of Panama are found in indigenous lands and territories, which Indigenous Peoples have inalienable rights to, and which are recognized by the constitution and Panamanian law. Furthermore, it is contradictory that, on one hand, the officials minimalize the importance of indigenous issues for REDD, and on the other, allow logging companies to participate.
Indigenous Peoples have made it clear that a REDD strategy must first ensure the implementation of the nationally and internationally recognized rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, the UN-REDD officials say that it is not a priority of the Programme to help secure the land rights of Indigenous Peoples who do not have collective deeds and whose land has had protected areas superimposed upon them.
With regards to the issue of full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, the UN officials and the Panamanian government are dividing indigenous communities with money from the Programme to force supposed consultations. This unethical and reprehensible procedure prompted COONAPIP to stop participating in a process whose objective is to privatize the forests of Panama in violation of the Panamanian constitution and laws, and allow the State to cash in on carbon credits in utter contempt for the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Hector Huertas, Esquire
Legal Counsel of COONAPIP
Panama, February 27, 2013
Note No. COONAPIP/31-13
Ms. Kim Bolduc, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations, Panama,
Mr. Silvano Vergara, General Administrator of the National Environment Authority of Panama
Dear Ms. Bolduc and Mr.Vergara:
With all due respect, the Traditional Authorities of the Indigenous Peoples who comprise the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of Panama hereby formally deliver Resolution Nº 2-2013, dated February 25th, 2013, whereby the COONAPIP resolves to Withdraw from the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Panama (UN-REDD, Panama) since it does not currently offer guarantees for respecting indigenous rights [nor for] the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama in all phases and in the implementation of said programme.
Annex: Resolution Nº COONAPIP/ 2/2013 (4 pages)
RESOLUTION No. 2-2013
Whereby the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP) in its ordinary session adopted the decision to withdraw from the UN-REDD Programme/ANAM – Panama, because its implementation to date does not take into account the minimum standards on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples of Panama, and because the agreements contracted in the framework of the adoption of said programme have been breached.
We, the Traditional Authorities of the Indigenous Congresses and Counsels of Panama, meeting in the community of Gaigigordub from the 23rd to the 25th of the Month of the Iguana (Arrinii) – February, 2013
First: That the Indigenous Peoples are the original peoples of the Republic of Panama, with dignity and rights [like] any other people of the world;
Second: That the Constitution of the Republic of Panama consecrates respect for the ethnic identities of Indigenous Peoples and [our] collective property over our lands and territories, which is inalienable and unadjudicable; the exercise of these rights includes the right to free, prior and informed consent;
Third: That the Republic of Panama and the United Nations (UN) have international obligations regarding human rights, which include the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples and, in particular, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
Fourth: That the Traditional Authorities of Indigenous Peoples, meeting in their General Assembly, in the ordinary session of the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of Panama (COONAPIP), carefully analyzed and discussed the report of the COONAPIP technical team, which met with UN and ANAM officials about the participation process for the implementation of the UN-REDD Programme/ANAM in Panama;
Fifth: That the document of the UN-REDD Programme /ANAM–Panama recognizes that one of the key actors for the preparation of the REDD Strategy in Panama is the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of Panama;
Sixth: That Article 41 and Article 42 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples stipulate that United Nations specialized agencies, bodies and officials must contribute and promote repect for and the full implementation of the Declaration’s provisions;
Seventh: That note was taken of the intention of UN officials and the Panamanian government to marginalize the collective participation of the seven Indigenous Peoples and the twelve traditional structures of the Indigenous Peoples that comprise the COONAPIP; who, acting in good faith, trusted and supported the United Nations [with the hope that] the UN-REDD Programme – Panama in its preparatory phase would be accepted and implemented with the full and effective participation of the COONAPIP;
Eighth: That bad faith is patent in the legal and administrative obstacles [used] to postpone and avoid the full compliance with the implementation of the Strategic Plan for the Political Advocacy of the COONAPIP (PEIP), which guarantees safeguards for the Indigenous Peoples of Panama and [respect for their] free, prior and informed consent enshrined in the national laws in force; and [furthermore] that it is the obligation of the States and the United Nations to remove or overcome such obstacles;
Ninth: That the dialogue with the UN-REDD Programme is stalled and [there are no] clear signs of a serious commitment to build a relationship of cooperation, nor political will to address the rights of Indigenous Peoples and [their] full and effective participation in the various phases of implementation, and that the COONAPIP therefore declares that this dialogue has failed in both content, form and participation;
First: To withdraw from the Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Panama (UN-REDD) since it does not currently offer guarantees for respecting indigenous rights [nor for] the full and effective participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Panama in all phases and in the implementation of said programme.
Second: The Traditional Authorities of the COONAPIP collectively withdraw from the talks with the UN-REDD Programme.
Third: To order the Board of Directors and the legal-technical body of the COONAPIP to undertake actions to make the [corresponding] denouncements in the international arena and in the scope of the meetings of the COPs, MOPs, SBSTTAs and the proceedings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as with international aid agencies, in particular with donors, [and to inform them of] our withdrawal until there are guarantees for the respect of our rights and the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples.
Fourth: We call upon all the Indigenous Peoples of the World to proceed with caution and to take the necessary measures to avoid being tricked by United Nations bodies and officials, who have the legal obligation to comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Fifth: To send a copy of this resolution to the Presidential Palace, the international community, especially the Indigenous Peoples of the world, and the media.
Adopted in the community of Gaigirgordub, Guna Yala Territory, on February 25th, 2013.