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  Indigenous People

The Gathering of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) - Rotorua, Aotearoa-NZ

Greetings
O le viiga o le Atua e le faaitiatia, ile papa 'a'ao, ma eeta'i o le paia lasilasi o Tupu ma E'e e faasino tonu i Tangata Whenua o Aotearoa, ae tainane foi le mamalu ma le paia o le au usu fono mai Ausetalia, Amerika, Hawaii ma Kanata. Kia ora, Ni sa Bula, Namaste, Malo e lelei, Fakalofa lahi atu, Malo ni, Ia orana, Kia Orana, Talofa, Talofa lava. Ete whanau a Karaiti - to us all as the family of God - tena koutou katoa.

I greet you all on behalf of the Anglican Communion. I also wish to bid the visitors welcome to my home Province, the Anglican Church or Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia. I am most privileged to address you all as the Anglican Observer at the United Nations - traditionally, I am not supposed to be above your shoulders as you represent the dignitaries of your own countries, your churches and your respective cultures and traditions. No doubt you have accorded me this privilege; to this insignificant Samoan village girl, because of the position I hold, representing you all, at the United Nations. My personal preference though is your acceptance of me; that I could also qualify as an indigenous God-fearing sister in Christ. Malo faafetai, o lau pule lea le Atua.

Acknowledgement:
I wish to start by acknowledging with much gratitude the assistance of those without whom, I will not have made it here. The Secretary General of AIN, Mr. Malcolm Naea Chun. Mahalo nui loa Malcolm. My sincere thanks to Dr. Jennie Plan Te Paa who made it possible for me to actually reach Rotorua. I also wish to express my gratitude from the bottom of heart, to our hosts, Te Pihopa Whakahuihui Vercoe and the Pihopotanga o Aotearoa, for welcoming us and for all the hard work of hosting this conference. May the fellowship of this community of Indigenous peoples; the sharing of our skills and especially our stories, become a blessing to the Piohopotanga. May our God of much wealth, repay you and your loved ones a thousand-fold. I also wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our ancestors who continue to be with us in spirit - they were the ones who encountered the hardships and their wairua (spirit) are prompting us to seek peace with justice for the indigenous people. Last but not least, I wish to acknowledge with a lot of pride, the great work done by His Grace Sir Paul Reeves whose foresight as well as his hard work, is well remembered by many in the United Nations, especially the Indigenous peoples. As the first Anglican Observer his valuable interventions were instrumental in the United Nations paying much more attention to the rights of the Indigenous peoples. Those who have continued to pursue the issues of Indigenous peoples at UN have often commented on this work and, Sir Paul's willingness to accommodate their requests for assistance through the services needed by their respective groups. They all send their greetings to this Gathering of AIN and especially to Sir Paul - LATEST NEWS - A secretariat for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has now been established under DESA in New York in February 2003. Congratulations Sir Pau!!!. The contact details of the Secretariat (please make use of it )are: 1 917 367 5100 and e-mail: indigenouspermanentforum@un.org

The Anglican UN Office, as you maybe aware exists to bring to the UN the voice of the Anglican Communion as a Global Community with a membership of about 70 million people in 165 countries. In return, the office seeks to identify areas and programmes of the UN that would benefit the Anglican Communion.

I have only been in the position for 18 months having arrived a few days before September 11th. There was much to do to familiarise myself with the complex processes of getting things done and the lack of records nor appropriate assistance received from my former Assistant proved very frustrating. However, your office was able to facilitate participation at UN meetings. We coordinated a delegation for the Commission on the Status of Women; the Special General Assembly for Children; the International Conference for Financing for Development; the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in South Africa; and the Very First Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples last May. Further more we coordinated and hosted the very first Global Anglican Congress on the Stewardship of Creation a week before the WSSD. A detailed report on the Congress is being prepared but some of it is detailed in the Anglican World (2000 Christmas Issue). I made sure that each of you receives a copy to take home. Let me describe some of the activities and achievements of the Office as follows:

Sustainable Development & Environment
There is much to be done following the Global Anglican Congress on the Stewardship of Creation and the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), to follow-up on the urgent issues on WEHAB - Water and Sanitation, Energy, Health, Agriculture, and Biodiversity (and Environment), the main thrust of the World Summit.

Through the Global Anglican Congress, significant steps were undertaken towards developing environmental justice and ecological ministries in the Provinces of the Communion. Now, we want to nurture those ministries in different parts of the Communion and the world by maintaining active linkages with the Provinces and their environmental work. This can be done, in part, by creating frequent news forums (from the UN) and forms of dialogue and exchange between the Office and the Provinces (and/or their in-the-field representatives). We are presently developing our Web-site for such exchanges as "the Community of Stewardship Partners. The participants of the Congress have reported on their activities, which included the adoption of Provincial Resolutions including he statements from the congress and some have appointed focal contacts for activities related to the Stewardship of Creation.

The two topics, which will be useful in the Observer's future contribution to encouraging planetary unity and church unity from an ecojustice perspective) are: (a) the relationship between biodiversity and cultural diversity (these are very closely linked, to destroy one is also to destroy the other); and (b) water, particularly around the issues of privatization, corporate accountability, clean water, and water shortages. (We also want to encourage theological reflection on the baptismal covenant and baptismal theology from an ecojustice perspective). Some work will be carried out together with the Inter Anglican Networks.

ACC 12 Resolutions. Twenty were related to the work of the office. Some activities have been carried out either directly or through some of the co-opted ECUSA staff for Youth Ministries and the Chairman of the African Staff Team.
Resolution 32 on the Endowment for the Anglican Communion will hopefully produce the much needed resources required and members of the Advisory Council to Anglican Observer are really committed to working closely with the Secretary General on fundraising either directly for the office or through the Compassrose Society.

Related Activities are:
· A World Fit for Children (ACC 12.01). The Resolution, you will recall, resulted from the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Children last May, in response to the UN International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for Children. We are following very closely the events at UN on the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of the child. Some countries including the US have yet to ratify the convention. Recently the US signed on only to a protocol on violence against children especially child-soldiers and the wellbeing of children in countries under conflict. Thomas Chu who assisted me with the resolution will be reporting on the ECUSA conference held in February 2003 on the theme "Will our Faith have Children? Christian Formation: Generation to Generation." It is hoped that some modules may be shared with the provinces.
We will welcome any news of what the provinces maybe doing in relation to the resolution;

· HIV/AIDS (ACC12.2). HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, are regarded by the United Nations as Poverty related diseases which directly affect sustainable development. The European Committee of the Office under the leadership of Canon Samir Habiby is working vigilantly for connections with UNAIDS and WHO to get the activities of the Anglican Communion on to their programmes. Accreditation to those organizations based in Europe and elsewhere is also being pursued with the assistance of the Committee in Europe.

· World Summit (ACC12.4) As covered above.

· Debt Burden (ACC12.6)
We wish to continue the work done by the office in the past and will be using some interns to research this further for advocacy on debt cancellation.

· People of Colour (ACC12.7)
The work on refugees is being pursued vigilantly by the ECUSA focal point, who works very closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The office continues to host the monthly meetings of the NGO Committee on Racism and we hope to fully utilize their information to pursue the requirements of the resolution.

· International Anglican Family Network (ACC12.9)
The Network wants the Observer to be fully involved in the dissemination of the Network newsletter to other New York NGOs and UN Agencies and to address their meeting in Africa on the UN initiatives especially the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for Children (2001/2010). With the approval granted by the Secretary General, the Observer will be chairing the Regional meeting for Africa in Nairobi in June 2003.

· UN Observer and Environmental Network (ACC12.11)
As covered above. UN Personnel who received the Congress statement hope to work with us in the future on specific initiatives (eg. Marine protection).

· Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Telecommunications (ACC12.15)
"If harnessed and directed properly, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), have the potential, to improve all aspects of our social, economic and cultural life," Kofi Annan. I have briefly discussed with Rev. Kris Lee (Coordinator of the Commission), the first World Summit on Information Society (Geneva, 10 - 12 December 2003), the second will be in Tunis in 2005. The summit aims to respond to the rapid growth of technology and will focus on the application of these technologies to the benefit of human development. It is hoped that Kris will advise the office on how the Anglican Communion could participate and benefit from this UN initiative.

· Interfaith Initiatives (ACC12.18)
Freedom of Faith and Religion is one of the 4 areas covered under ACC's accreditation to the UN. I am very anxious to pursue membership in the UN/NGO Committee on Interfaith relationships to promote better understanding being the religion and faith groups in the UN. I have welcomed the initiative of the Advisory Council Task Force to mitigate the problems arising from global stresses related to attitudes of Muslims and Christian "Western" organizations originating traditions. They wish to pursue this through round table discussions of Muslims and Christians on the issues relevant to the present global crisis.

· Israel/Palestine (ACC12.21)
The Anglican UN office is a member of the UN/NGO Working Group and has pursued vigilantly with other Ecumenical partners through the UN and the ECUSA Peace & Justice Ministries the need for peace negotiations in the Middle East. The statement I initiated and drafted for the Group, was distributed at the United Nations Solemn Meeting on the International Day in Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November 2002). The support of the Anglican Consultative Council was publicly acknowledged by the Chairman of the meeting. Following the bombing of our Church and Hospital, I wrote a complaint to the Israeli Ambassador as well as Ambassador Negroponte of the US government asking for some explanations for such a cruel act and reinstitution of the damages done by the government of Israel. I will continue to follow-up on this issue on my return. The Working Group is pursuing the immediate for the Quartet (UN, EU, US and Russia) to start the peace negotiations for the two countries.

· Iraq (ACC12.23) & Solidarity with ECUSA Position on Iraq (ACC12.24)
Your office has been hosting the meetings of the Working Group on Iraq and we are continuing to lobby the Ambassadors to advocate for ending the War caused by the invasion of Iraq. Since January, I have been distributing on your behalf a statement under the heading, "The Anglican Consultative Council Supports the United Nations position on Iraq," to UN personnel, the Ambassadors, the special delegation from Germany and the NGO Representatives over the last few weeks.

On February 21st, I sent the Archbishop of Canterbury a summary of events at UN and impressions by trusted partners on the situation in Iraq.

Other Activities:

  • Speaking engagements included addresses during church services on the Roles of the United Nations, the Anglican Consultative Council and the activities of the office. I also spoke at the Orientation in January 2003 of ECUSA Missionaries and Youth Adults Service Corps (which included Mission and the Groaning Earth) and, at the General Theological Seminary as part of their programme for Black History Month.
  • Represented the Secretary General at the Meeting of Secretaries of the Christian World Communions in October. Our report highlighted the ACC's Ecumenical activities as documented for ACC12. It was a real privilege to represent the Anglican Communion at the meeting and most participants offered to get me connected with their respective representatives at the United Nations as well as their own personal contacts within the UN staff.
  • Participated in planning meetings for the 47th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (March 3 to 14, 2003).
    Since November 2002, the office has been coordinating an Anglican Communion delegation for the meeting and help formulated a statement presented the session last month. The Commission focussed on two thematic issues: (1) participation and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women; and, (2) women's human rights and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls as defined in the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the Special Session for the General Assembly entitled "Women: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century."
    We will be meeting with the delegates on my return to finalise their report for distribution to the provinces hopefully to revitalize the Inter Anglican Women's Network. I fully believe that empowering women will also empower the Church in all facets of development.
  • I met with the Area officer for Zimbabwe in the UN Secretariat who advised me that UN will be very hesitant to interfere in matters involving the sovereignty of a Government especially when governments of the same region have also been very supportive of the President. They were fully aware of the problem and were hoping that those complaining could perhaps deal with the issue through the UN offices there. Thus the matter can only be dealt with in the Security Council if raised by another government. I have written to the Primates of Australia (who requested intervention) and Southern Africa on the possibility of the Church advocating for a fair settlement of the issues raised and on the possibility of getting the attention of the United Nations through the government of South Africa.

Areas of Concentration in the Future.
After 18 months in the position and with only one other staff member, we really have to be selective in areas where the office could effectively serve the Anglican Communion. I therefore proposed to the Advisory Council and ACC the following areas:

  • Women & Children. This is my passion especially those issues affecting "the family" today. We must make sure that the policies of the UN states do include a strong gender perspective, and are based upon universal Human Rights. In most countries, Women remain "the invisible and unrecognized backbone of agriculture (and of the church too), and remain hostage to the feudal traditions." Administrative structures have not shown adequate sensitivity to rural women's needs, and as a result, women's programs are still peripheral;"
  • Sustainable Development & Environment, focusing mainly on Eco & Social Justice and bringing on board the International Year of Fresh Water and the recommendations of the Global Anglican Congress. In terms of specific topics that are crucial to the planetary crisis, we must immediately pay specific attention to climate change (also strengthening our already strong relationship with the Pacific churches and Missions at the UN); forests (strengthening our relationship with churches in Asia and South America); indigenous and other marginalised peoples (we want to help their voices to be heard at the UN and in the Communion);
    · International World Debt, was an issue Bishop James Ottley pursued vigilantly and remains a problem to the poor countries of the Communion; and,
  • The Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was the legacy of the First Observer, culminating in the Inter Anglican Indigenous Network (IAN). The office is still being seen by many Indigenous groups as a reliable avenue that could be counted on for assistance. It is actively involved in the activities for the Second Session of the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples in next month, May 2003.

We will also continue to pay attention to Security Issues as and when brought to my notice by the Primates and ACC especially the Middle East and Iraq, also the Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Burundi and Uganda.

UN work on Indigenous Issues.
It has been a long struggle. I believe it started way back in 1925 when a First Nation Chief went to the League of Nations in Geneva to plead for the rights of the indigenous people but was never given a chance to speak. However, international thinking and action on indigenous issues and rights have been receiving significant attention over the recent years.

The International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, being celebrated between 1995-2004, has brought with it advances such as the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The theme for the Decade is 'indigenous people: partnership in action'. The main objective is the strengthening of international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, education and health. These are areas which the Permanent Fora (2002 and again in 2003) need to address. The General Assembly appointed the High Commissioner for Human Rights as Coordinator of the Decade and related activities, one of which is the Permanent Fora.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people may also examine these issues.

The UN, its partners and indigenous peoples have developed a programme of work that sets standards in regards to indigenous peoples and their rights. An equally important process has been to review developments regularly. The Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) has attended to both these activities since 1982 and I am pleased to report that the Special Advisory Committee for the Office of the Anglican Observer, (established in May 2002), has a member in this group and may attend the Forum this year.

One of the principle outcomes in terms of standard-setting has been done by the open-ended inter-sessional Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights on the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. This draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples is currently working its way up through the UN system to the General Assembly, where it will be considered as an aspirational document for Nation States and the Indigenous peoples of the world.

Much has been established over the years and a lot of publications have been issued covering the areas highlighted in the programme-for-action for the Decade which is ending next year (2004). I have no idea if these have ever caught the attention of the church and if it did, this very Community of AIN should be sharing the results. I would love to learn from you what your countries have done, what you have done as members of AIN and how much you know about the Decade.

The Special Secretariat now established, is busy coordinating the programme for the Forum next month and I am attaching herewith a letter, which was emailed to me requiring your immediate attention. My office has been providing hosting the meetings of the UN/NGO working group (without our active participation) which coordinated last years forum, and is providing a lot of input into the structure of the 2003 one. Should AIN wishes to participate in the Forum, I am very pleased to offer you the appropriate assistance for a delegation under the Anglican UN Office. Unfortunately we have no funding for this and hope that you either participate as a member of your government's delegation or seek funding from your provinces to attend.

I witnessed the importance accorded by several countries to the issues of the Indigenous people and they even allowed their representatives (of Indigenous people) to speak on behalf of their delegations at WSSD in South Africa, sharing the wealth of knowledge they had on environment matters. They appeared to know more about the dangers of development that was not sustainable, development that did not involve the opinion of indigenous people, development that impacted negatively on their lives - and they were very vocal about it.

I noted that some of the representatives were members of the Anglican Communion, hence why I posed the question to the Secretary General of the Network on why these regions were not included in the Network. I am looking forward to hearing your views on this subject.

In concluding, I wish to thank you all for sparing the time to listen to me. I pray for your continued support of God's Mission. Please remain in contact - I tend to feel lonely, many a time in New York. It is also my prayer that God grants you patience, steadiness, and encouragement to help the people of God to live in complete harmony. May you also have peace and tranquility within yourselves, your families and loved-ones. Please also pray for Peace in the World.


Shalom, Peace, Salaam - God bless you & Soifua,
Taimalelagi F. Tuatagaloa-Matalavea

 

Published by the Anglican Communion Office ©2002 Anglican Consultative Council