The Chiapas Declaration

We are calling for genuine change.  We cannot accept that minorities and indigenous peoples are the most vulnerable members of our societies and that they remain excluded from decision-making that affects their lives and the future of our countries.

We affirm that minorities and indigenous peoples have the inalienable right to full and equal membership of our nations.  This right has to be translated into public policies that are sensitive to their situation, needs, and aspirations and accompanied by sufficient resources.  This requires the effective participation of minorities and indigenous peoples at all levels of government, and in particular in national and regional parliaments. All public policies should be submitted to minorities and indigenous peoples for prior consultation.

We further affirm the responsibility of political parties to promote the effective participation of minorities and indigenous peoples and address their concerns in their party programmes.

We urge every parliament, within the next two years, to:

1. Hold a special debate on the situation of minorities and indigenous peoples in their country; recognize the diversity in society; and adopt a Plan of Action to make the right to equal participation and non-discrimination a reality for minorities and indigenous peoples;

2. Adopt and implement laws to end discrimination and provide for the effective participation of minorities and indigenous peoples in decision-making, including in parliament, while taking care to secure the effective participation of minority and indigenous women.  Where such laws already exist, evaluate their effectiveness and make adjustments where necessary;

3. Ensure that the legislative process is transparent and that parliamentary records are made available immediately so that minority/indigenous peoples can monitor the activity of their representatives and in so doing hold them to account for their actions and omissions.

We call on the IPU to take the lead in collecting data on the representation of minorities and indigenous peoples in parliament, with due regard for privacy concerns and peoples’ right to choose their own identity.  We also call on the IPU to monitor the implementation of this Declaration, to facilitate networking among parliaments and to convene a follow-up meeting two years from now to discuss progress and set targets for future action.

As parliaments elaborate their Plans of Action, we recommend that, at a minimum, they:

1. Ensure that the right to free, prior and informed consent is observed in every step leading to the adoption of legislative and administrative measures affecting minorities and indigenous peoples; hold government to account for the implementation of such measures;

2. Require of government that all submissions to parliament of draft legislation and the national budget include an assessment of their impact on minorities and indigenous peoples;

3. Make regular use of plenary sessions in parliament and other parliamentary forums to discuss minority/indigenous matters in order to raise awareness and combat prejudice in society; organize awareness-raising sessions for all parliamentarians so as to increase their knowledge of minorities and indigenous peoples and the particular problems  they face; ensure that minority and indigenous issues are mainstreamed into parliamentary work, in particular at the committee level;

4. Allocate sufficient resources to establishing dialogue between minority/indigenous peoples and public institutions and to parliamentary committees on minority and indigenous issues so as to allow them to carry out effective outreach activities such as public hearings with minority and indigenous peoples;

5. Increase parliaments’ familiarity with work being done within the United Nations system so as to equip them to better hold governments to account for their international commitments, including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; more particularly, urge ratification of ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and the implementation of the UN Declarations on the rights of minorities (1992) and indigenous peoples (2007); hold debates in parliament on the conclusions and recommendations made by the UN human rights treaty bodies and special mechanisms with regard to minority and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Adopted by consensus by the participants in the International parliamentary conference on ‘Parliaments, minorities and indigenous peoples: Effective participation in politics’, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas (Mexico), 3 November 2010

Download a printable version of the Chiapas Declaration

Conference programme

Sunday 31 October 2010
7 p.m.  Opening ceremony

Monday 1 November
10.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m: Effective participation in politics: a human right, a prerequisite for democracy and a means of preventing conflict

11.30 a.m – 1 p.m.: Perspectives on effective participation
Session 1: Minorities
Session 2: Indigenous peoples

3 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.: Legislative lessons learned

4.30 p.m. – 6 p.m.: The participation of minority and indigenous women in decision-making

Tuesday 2 November
10.00 a.m – 1 p.m.. Measures for enhancing effective participation
Session 1: Representatives and citizens 
Session 2: Political parties

3 p.m. – 6 p.m. 
Session 3: Inside Parliament
Session 4: Local, provincial, regional government and autonomous structures

Wednesday 3 November
Morning: Dialogue with indigenous leaders, Santiago el Pinar
4.30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.: Building an agenda for effective political participation
6.30 p.m. – 8.30 p.m.: Closing ceremony

Practical information for delegates

1. Registration Desks. A Registration Desk will be set up in each hotel. Delegates should collect their conference badge and documents upon arrival at the hotel. There will also be a Registration Desk at the conference centre on Monday.

2. Opening ceremony on Sunday. The Opening ceremony will take place on Sunday 31 October from 19.00-21.00 at the Teatro de la Cuidad. Buses will leave from the hotels to the Opening ceremony at 18.30. Delegates will need their conference badge to enter the Opening ceremony. After the ceremony, there will be a cocktail for all participants. 

3. Transport to the conference centre on Monday and Tuesday. Buses will leave from the hotels to the conference centre at 09.00.

4. Dinner on Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, delegates are invited to dinner at the Las Pinchachas restaurant. Buses will leave from the hotels to the restaurant at 19.30.

5. Field visit on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, delegates will meet with leaders of indigenous communities in Santiago de Pinar. Buses will leave from the hotels at 08.00. After the visit, delegates will go directly to the Congress of the State of Chiapas where the final sessions of the conference will take place.

6. Contacts. In case of problems, delegates can contact the following people:

English: Adriana Muñoz – 961 658 1331 or Juan Carlos Delarosa – 961 255 5168

Spanish: Juan Carlos Lopez – 961 255 6398 or Aramara Salgado – 961 112 9809

French: Adriana Muñoz – 961 658 1331

About the conference

The international parliamentary conference ‘Parliaments, minorities and indigenous peoples: Effective participation in politics’ will take place in Chiapas, Mexico, from 31 October to 3 November 2010.

The conference is organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Mexican Congress of the Union and the Government of the State of Chiapas, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues; and the Minority Rights Group International.

Many situations around the world demonstrate that an adequate representation of minorities and indigenous peoples in policy- and decision-making by society is instrumental in breaking the cycle of discrimination and exclusion suffered by members of these groups, and their ensuing disproportionate levels of poverty and related impediments to the full enjoyment of many civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

Yet minorities and indigenous peoples often remain excluded from effective participation in decision-making, including at the level of the national parliament. The conference will focus on ways to overcome the challenges to effective participation of minorities and indigenous peoples in politics. Participants will include parliamentarians who self-identify as belonging to a minority or indigenous group; and members of parliamentary committees that deal with matters relevant to the theme of the Conference, in particular of committees on human rights, minority and indigenous questions, constitutional, legal and electoral affairs.

For more information: http://www.ipu.org/splz-e/chiapas10.htm