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Problems of Transparency at the UNPFII Preforum in Cambodia February 2007

Each year there is the UNPFII meeting at New York mid May. Before the UNPFII there is a pre forum or pre session. In the last three years we at the Akha Heritage Foundation have stated that the leadership of the Asian Caucus did not take due care to notify us of this preforum or minutes of the procedings for those who could not attend.

We were assured that there was nothing untoward and that all business was transparent and normal despite obvious indicators to the contrary. These complaints were also voiced by other indigenous groups.

But in February of 2007 it became obvious that numerous players were involved in this exclusion as it has gotten more clear.

In February we found out that there was going to be a preforum in Cambodia along with a Special Consultation with the Special Rapporteur. We found out by indirect means and even got a copy of the invitation. But we were not notified of the meetings by AIPP, IWGIA or Tebtebba. All three of these organizations were involved. The invitation was printed on Tebtebba letterhead.

But the invitation we saw was already early February and tickets to the event were now at the price of $4500 round trip for one person due to it being so close to the time of the meetings. The original invitation was sent out on Jan 22, 2007 but of course people who WERE ATTENDING had been notified by AIPP, IWGIA and Tebtebba long before this one would think.

I wrote Tebtebba twice and asked them for an explanation why we were being excluded. I got no reply. I brought the issue up in other forums and asked for at least the minutes of these meetings, what was discussed, who was there, what was voted and what was decided. I got no reply.

I have stated that this is a very serious lack of transparency and democracy. It is now mid June 2007 and there has been no reply from Vicki in direct requests to her for information on the proceeds of these meetings.

Numerous other individuals and organizations have asked for this as well, and also have been ignored.

Democracy is not something owned by a select partisan group.

The fact of the matter is that the Akha have serious land rights concerns in Thailand and these meetings are crucial to activism related to those land rights problems. Tebtebba, AIPP and IWGIA are not assisting by this kind of conduct.

The Asian Caucus itself also looks like it is being run by a select group of religious specific individuals, particularly christian, to the excluding of all other individuals and organizations.

I find this unacceptable and await the minutes of the Special Consultation, the PreForum and an explanation for this behaviour.

A letter to the UNPFII Asia List after many others asking for this information

To the PFII Asia List:
I am a reasonable guy, I really am.

But I have a job to do, and I try to be civil most of the time.

But the reality is, that neither Michu or I were communicated with regarding the pre-forum and we stated quite clearly that this was a lack of accountablility, or thwarting, which ever is worse, take your pick.

I really don't care who was in charge, but I need the information. Further, I can only write to those organizations which the paper says were in charge or related to the issue.

I believe some funding came from IWGIA. No reply. I believe that AIPP was running some aspect of all this. No reply. And I got a belated copy of an invitation on Tebtebba letterhead. No reply.

The fact is that there are excluding practices going on, and this is not acceptable.

Now a few of you who know me, are aware that I will bite through steel if that is what I have to do to get at the facts of something, or I will work on it via the one year, two year, five year, ten year or twenty year plan. Thus ignoring this issue will not necessarily make it go away.

This information could have been supplied a long time ago when we first asked for it, and the fact that it hasn't suggests that there are bigger problems a foot.

First we were not notified directly of the Pre Forum and the Special Consultation. Secondly we were not supplied with an explanation or information on the events of the preforum when we asked for it.

This is neither democratic or transparent.

I will now post this to my website under the section UN - UNPFII

Matthew McDaniel

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