Indigenous internationalism: new adventures in indigenous governance.
Like May flowers, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (acronym: UNPFII or PFII) is an advisory body within the framework of the United Nations System that reports to the UN's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). website springs to colourful life each year before the two-week session in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . Now in its fourth year, the 2005 forum has new members, with Australia's former indigenous rights ombudsman, barrister and Australian National University Australian National University, located in Canberra and state-sponsored, founded 1946 as Australia's only completely research-oriented university. Originally limited to graduate studies, it expanded in 1960, merging with Canberra University College (est. 1929). chair in Indigenous Studies, Mick Dodson Professor Michael James "Mick" Dodson AM, (b. 10 April 1950 in Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia) is an Indigenous Australian leader, a member of the Yawuru peoples in the Broome area of the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia. , newly representing the Pacific.
The handover n. 1. The act of relinquishing property or authority etc. to another; as, the handover of occupied territory to the original posssessors; the handover of power from the military back to the civilian authorities s>. from the first Pacific representative--energetic and popular indigenous Hawaiian, Mililani Trask--took place in April in Brisbane.
Mick Dodson is an ideal representative. He is at home in a range of overseas and domestic territorial, legal and political experiences. He has been struggling to apply them, and like others, has spent more time looking at comparative practicalities than simply the annual festivals of carefully crafted resolutions that accumulate in Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. or New York.
Returning from his first UN foray in the early 1990s, Mick gave a fresh enthusiastic talk on indigenous internationalism in Darwin, full of the sense of new discovery that has struck most us venturing into that field. His intellect, and breadth and length of experience at high-level political work and advocacy are ideal qualities in his new role.
At April's Pacific caucus, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Torres Strait (tŏr`ĭz, –rĭs), channel, c.95 mi (153 km) wide, between New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula of Australia. It connects the Arafura and Coral seas. Islander representatives plus a large group from Aotearoa/New Zealand and Pacific islands spent several days in semi-rural retreat talking through procedures and issues. A representative from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) captured the meeting's frustration and determination on the last day: 'We are the richest people in the world, with that ocean! And yet we are the poorest people in the world!' For instance, there was concern about APEC APEC
in full Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
Trade group established in 1989 in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional economic blocs (such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Area) interest in Pacific Ocean and resource management. Are countries like the US and Canada likely to remember what they have been learning from indigenous peoples about marine and coastal rights, and putting Islanders first in such coastal areas?
Thirty years ago the international 'native rights movement' was spawned across and around the North Atlantic, primarily because developed countries and Big Oil were overreaching Exploiting a situation through Fraud or Unconscionable conduct. for offshore oil and other 'frontier energy' as if indigenous peoples had no rights.
'Globalisation is about to hit us like a tsunami!' said Queensland elder Peter Smith, reporting back from a workshop session. Economics aside, reading the Pacific Plan consultation papers from the Pacific Island Forum, and the UN Millennium Goals to which the Permanent Forum must respond, reveals that even they largely fail to capture the needs or realities of indigenous continents and islands. A major theme of the caucus was how to assert the indigenous realities of a vast region that has been too often seen as a mere appendage appendage /ap·pen·dage/ (ah-pen´dij) a subordinate portion of a structure, or an outgrowth, such as a tail.
epiploic appendages see under appendix . of populous Asia.
Trying to fit into the pre-ordained schemes of others has a bad history for indigenous peoples everywhere. The other theme of the Brisbane caucus--the Pacific experience of and determined response to colonisation--may be the best guide. Strong recent indigenous networking and co-operation offer hope for success.
Within Pacific countries, including Australia, the distance and division between official industrial-world forms of governance on one hand and indigenous collective tradition on the other is a major problem. Do the politico-cultural forms of Europe in recent centuries really suit the older and very different indigenous societies of the Pacific? The recent Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies conference in Brisbane heard case after case of politico-legal problems between systems in the Pacific, and they raised questions urgent for the Northern Territory and elsewhere here at home: who are 'the people'--50,000-year residents or majority eighteen-month transients? And whose 'system' should prevail in NT?
The Pacific caucus themes were colonisation, globalisation and marginalisation Noun 1. marginalisation - the social process of becoming or being made marginal (especially as a group within the larger society); "the marginalization of the underclass"; "the marginalization of literature"
marginalization . Torres Strait has the problems of both Continental Australia and the Island Pacific. With so much inspiration among island neighbours and cultural kin, Torres Strait may yet see striking novelties in practical indigenous governance. But the Islanders will have to do their own work because governments in Australia are just not up to it.
The newly tender attention from Australia to the Pacific region may reassure some local powerbrokers but many others are sceptical. Australia's domestic indigenous record is well known. Meanwhile, the Brash opposition speech in New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. on 26 April last year was a virtual declaration of war on indigenous peoples. Although few in number, those peoples inhabit most of the Australian Pacific region.
Inuit had the same problem of small numbers and wide dispersal, but have managed to create strong autonomous governments in their nation-states. They have also re-created the Arctic as a unique international region, with distinct political, social and environmental imperatives. Perhaps the environment can equally serve the Pacific as an issue intelligible to the White Man!
Meanwhile, ignoring indigenous people remains too easy. Norway is leading advocacy for human rights, but in May the Oslo city council sneered at the idea of flying the Sami flag for national Constitution Day celebrations, which are tied closely to one hundred years of regained national independence and sixty years since the Nazi Occupation's end. Few suffered as much from crude 'Norwegianisation' campaigns or from Nazi Occupation, dislocation and devastation in the North as Sami. A constitutional amendment in the 1980s recognised Sami and Norwegians as two equal peoples in one nation-state. But Sami are not valued as a cultural asset or even recognised as more than an annoying and clamouring Noun 1. clamouring - loud and persistent outcry from many people; "he ignored the clamor of the crowd"
clamoring, clamour, hue and cry, clamor
cry, outcry, shout, vociferation, yell, call - a loud utterance; often in protest or opposition; "the speaker was interest group to capital city worthies. Not yet a national unity to celebrate
Peter Jull is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (ACPACS ACPACS Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (The University of Queensland) ), University of Queensland The University of Queensland (UQ) is the longest-established university in the state of Queensland, Australia, a member of Australia's Group of Eight, and the Sandstone Universities. It is also a founding member of the international Universitas 21 organisation. . With thanks to his colleague Jennifer Laakso.
For information on the United Nations Permanent Forum, visit: www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/index.html.