The fiasco that was falsely proclaimed to be the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), continues to endanger the international movement for Indigenous peoples’ self-determination. In the most recent betrayal of Indigenous peoples’ rights, resulting from the sham UN “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,” the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, on October 23, named Wu Hongbo as the UN coordinator to implement any "action plans" that are hypothetically imagined in the “World Conference” Outcome Document. As I, and others, have previously written, the UN High Level Plenary Meeting (HLPM) - was deceptively labeled a “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples,” but it was not one—see: ICTMN 10/16/2014; 9/13/14; 4/16/14; 3/12/14)
Wu’s new position mandates his duties to raise awareness for, and advance the rights of, indigenous peoples in the UN system. It is curious, therefore, that the important announcement of Mr. Wu’s appointment was not posted (as of this writing) on the two websites that Indigenous peoples would reasonably visit for updates on the HLPM this link or this one. Wu’s assignment is another retreat from the expectation of indigenous peoples that indigenous peoples be involved, as equal and effective partners, in UN decisions that affect us. Ban Ki-Moon could reasonably expect a negative reaction by many indigenous peoples to Wu’s installation, because there is little evidence to indicate that Wu will vigorously defend Indigenous peoples’ rights.
Although Wu currently serves as the Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs at the UN, he has been a career diplomat for the Chinese government, having previously served as the Chinese ambassador to both Germany and the Philippines. Wu's representation of his government’s positions (a career to which he will presumably return after his UN service) is significant, given China's history of hostility to the rights of indigenous peoples -- including Tibetans, Uighurs, the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan, and China’s current provocative incursions into the Indigenous territories of the Arunachalese and Ladakhs in the Himalayas.
China has consistently asserted that there are no Indigenous peoples in China – a convenient state method of dealing with Indigenous peoples -- simply defining them out of existence. In the so-called interactive hearings leading up to the HLPM, China also openly stated that if Indigenous governments theoretically were to be “allowed” to participate in UN processes, only Indigenous representatives who have been approved, or even selected, by the national (invader-state) governments would be acceptable. China went on to highlight the "territorial integrity of states" provision outlined in the lamentable Article 46 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as the cornerstone element in future state relations with Indigenous peoples and nations.
Wu's appointment directly sneers at some of the fantastic assertions made by some Indigenous apologists for the HLPM, in their frenetic attempts to enlist more support from uninformed indigenous people for the sham “World Conference.” Some indigenous gatekeepers suggested that an Indigenous UN co-coordinator might be appointed, or, at least, Indigenous peoples should expect a high-level UN representative who hailed from one of the states "friendly” to Indigenous peoples, i.e., Scandinavia or the Latin America/Caribbean Group. Wu is the antithesis of either the chimera of an “indigenous co-coordinator,” or of a representative from a “friendly” state.
Wu’s disturbing elevation as UN coordinator seems to reflect political ignorance, ineffectiveness, or deliberate manipulation on the part of the Indigenous apologists in the HLPM process. One must wonder if Wu's naming by the Secretary General was some kind of quid pro quo from the states that were championing the HLPM to China; in return, China would allow the HLPM/WCIP to unfold, without China’s overt obstruction or blocking of consensus on the meeting.
What Wu’s appointment represents is the expansion of an orderly state architecture to continue the UN’s drift (led by the CANZUS bloc – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US) farther and farther away from the original principles of the international movement for the liberation of Indigenous peoples. This settler-state framework moves “state practices” closer and closer both to the ultimate domestication of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the permanent internal colonization of Indigenous nations that are now surrounded by the pretentious boundaries of invader-states.
Certainly, those Indigenous individuals, organizations and even tribal governments who willingly supported and participated in the HLPM/WCIP charade should now be prepared to accept their share of responsibility for this most recent, predictable and troubling development – Wu’s selection. Unlike those who endorsed and participated in the HLPM, the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus (NAIPC) can take pride in its record, solitary as it has been, of being the only regional indigenous caucus in the world to have repudiated and called for the cancellation of the HLPM/WCIP. NAIPC’s stance has resisted, and continues to resist, this ongoing, sordid chain of events.
Glenn Morris (Shawnee) is a member/spokesperson for the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. He is a professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he directs the 4th World Center for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics. He has been active in the defense of Native nations at the United Nations since 1981.