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.
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.
CICA Senior Advisor
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.
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
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.