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Indigenous Peoples Opposition to the HGDP

1. Karioca Declaration (June 1982) Brazil
An assembly of indigenous peoples worldwide who met prior to the UN Conference On Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in Rio De Janeiro.

2. The Mataatua Declaration (June 1993)
A meeting of over 150 participants, from 14 UN member states, who developed and tabled with the United Nations the Declaration:

3.5 Calls for an immediate halt to the ongoing Human Genome Diversity Project until is moral, ethical, socio-economic, physical and political implications have been thoroughly discussed, understood and approved by indigenous peoples.

3. The UN-Working Group on Indigenous Populations (July 1993-94)
An annual UN meeting at which on average 300-400 indigenous representatives attend. The working group and the Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (comprised of 26 human rights experts) in Aug. 1994 approved Article 29 in the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Article 29: Indigenous peoples are entitled to the recognition of the full ownership, control and protection of their cultural and intellectual property. They have the right to special measures to control, develop and protect their sciences, technologies and cultural manifestations including human and other genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, and visual and performing arts.

4. Maori Congress (1993)
An assembly of representatives of the tribes of the North and South Islands of Aotearoa, passed resolutions at three Executive Meetings, condemning the Project, the patenting of life-forms and the potential for the GATT to encourage exploitation of genetic materials.

5. World Congress of Indigenous Peoples (1993)
WCIP are the ones who re-named the Project "The Vampire Project". They have been consistent critics of the Project and of human genetic research in general, working directly alongside communities at risk.

6. National Congress of American Indians (1993)
The NCAI is the oldest and largest national organization comprising representative of all the American Indian tribal governments in the US. NCAI passed Resolution No. NV-93-118 in 1993 declaring, among other things:

"NCAI does hereby condemn the HGDP and call upon all parties and agencies involved in it and related activities to cease immediately.."

7. Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Position Paper on the HGD "Vampire" Project (November 1993)

"The Vampire Project is legalized theft. The Vampire scientists are planning to take and to own what belongs to indigenous people....We must make sure that our people are not exploited once more by corporations, governments, and their scientists."

8. Maori Congress Indigenous Peoples Roundtable (June 1994)
Indigenous participants from the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, Greenland Home Rule Government, COICA (Peru) Treaty Six Chiefs (Alberta) and governmental representatives from Vanuatu, PNG and Fiji.

5.l.5 The collection of genetic samples from indigenous peoples such as the Human Genome Diversity Project, is unethical and immoral and must be brought to an immediate halt.

9. Guaymi General Congress (1994 - Panama)
The Guaymi, along with PNG and Solomon Islands have experienced the horror of discovering that the US government has taken patent claims over the cell lines from people of their communities. In the case of the Guaymi, through effective and focused protest, they were able to have the patent claim abandoned.

10. Geneva IPR Workshop (August 1994)
The International Academy of the Environment, along with WWF and the UN Centre for Human Rights, convened in July 1994 an informal workshop to consider Intellectual Property Rights and Indigenous Peoples. Approximately 50 people attended.

"The issue of HUGO , and others related to human genes, is a serious violation of our peoples rights. Without consultation with the indigenous communities , several projects are now taking blood, hair, tissue and other samples for purposes that are not clear. This practice of collecting samples without our approval is very dangerous because in this way our genetic material can be patented or used for other purposes. Such practices not only violate ethics and human rights, but also violate nature, our spirituality, and our knowledge of creation that connects us with all forms of life."

11. Latin & South American Consultation on Indigenous Peoples Knowledge, Santa Cruz De La Sierra, Bolivia (September 1994)
Rejected the HGD Project and human genetic research.

12. Asian Consultation on the Protection and Conservation of Indigenous Peoples Knowledge, Sabbah, Malaysia (February 1995)
Rejected the HGD Project and human genetic research.

13. Declaration of Indigenous Organizations of the Western Hemisphere, Phoenix, Arizona (February 1995)
A meeting of indigenous leaders from throughout the US, Canada, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina to focus specifically on the HGD Project.

"Our responsibility as Indigenous peoples is to ensure the continuity of the natural order of all life is maintained for generations to come...We have a responsibility to speak for all life forms and to the defend the integrity of the natural order..We particular oppose the HGD Project which intends to collect, and make available our genetic materials which may be used for commercial, scientific and military purposes...We oppose the patenting of all natural genetic materials. We hold that life cannot be bought, owned, sold, discovered or patented, even in its smallest form..."

14. Pan-American Health Organization (April 1995)
PAHO passed a Resolution on 15 April 1993 opposing the HGD Project, and stating:

"This type of research will have a negative impact on future health programmes and projects in indigenous communities, by undermining indigenous peoples' trust in the medical and health professions."

15. Pacific Consultation on the Protection and Conservation of Indigenous Peoples Knowledge, Suva Statement (May 1995)
The Suva meeting has developed a Treaty declaring a Life-Forms Patent Free Pacific. Within the Treaty, specific objection is directed to the HGD Project.

16. The "Heart of the Peoples" Declaration, from the North American Indigenous Peoples Summit on Biological Diversity and Biological Ethics (August 1997) Fort Belnap, Montana

Calls for a moratorium on the patenting of all life forms, and all activities related to human genetic diversity involving indigenous peoples, including access, sampling, testing, research and experimentation, and calls for a return of all genetic samples taken from indigenous peoples with their full prior informed consent.

17. Ukupseni Declaration, Kuna Yala on the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) Kuna Yala, Pamana (November 1997)

Condemns the Human Genome Diversity Project, calls for a moratorium on the collection of genetic samples from indigenous peoples, demands the repatriation of genetic samples and data already obtained by unethical means, opposes the application of intellectual property law, and patents, to human genes; and calls upon scientists to denouce any research conducted in a manner that violates the protocols which protects the human right of human subjects.

Source: A paper presented by Aroha Te Parake Mead titled "The Integrity of the Human Genes and Whakapapa," presented to the New Zealand Health Research Council Consensus Development Workshop "Whose Genes Are They Anyway: the Use and Misuse of Human Genetic Information, Wellington (July 1995)

Related Topics:
>> Model Resolution for Tribal Governments
>> Key Points for a resolution Opposing the Human Genoome Diversity Project