Advanced

INDIGENOUS RIGHTS IN GUATEMALA- The Observance of the Agreement on Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples

Holmlund, Anna-Karin (1999)
Department of Law
Abstract
In recent years more attention has been given to the rights of the indigenous peoples. Global awareness has been raised concerning the difficult circumstances under which they live. The ILO Convention No 169 and the UN Draft Declaration will serve as foundations for a new relationship between States and their indigenous peoples, promoting a stronger protection against discrimination and violations of human rights. Guatemala is probably the Central American country that has suffered the most from civil war and abuse of the indigenous population, consisting of the Mayans, Garífunas and Xincas, representing almost 60% of the Guatemalan population. The underlying cause for the armed conflict was the controversial question of land and natural... (More)
In recent years more attention has been given to the rights of the indigenous peoples. Global awareness has been raised concerning the difficult circumstances under which they live. The ILO Convention No 169 and the UN Draft Declaration will serve as foundations for a new relationship between States and their indigenous peoples, promoting a stronger protection against discrimination and violations of human rights. Guatemala is probably the Central American country that has suffered the most from civil war and abuse of the indigenous population, consisting of the Mayans, Garífunas and Xincas, representing almost 60% of the Guatemalan population. The underlying cause for the armed conflict was the controversial question of land and natural resources. Guatemala is the only country within its region missing laws concerning land distribution and registration and the agrarian system has kept the country from developing during the last few centuries, with a majority of the population living in severe poverty. The indigenous peoples of Guatemala have held a non-dominant position ever since the Spanish Conquest in 1524 and they have been exploited and abused through out the history. However, in December 1996 the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace was signed between the Government and the armed opposition URNG, which officially marked the end of 36-years of violence and a long process of peace talks. The Agreements signed during the negotiations concern a number of areas of great importance for the Guatemalan people and the development of a strong democracy in the society. Agreements were concluded concerning human rights, the identity and rights of the indigenous peoples, social and economic rights, the role of the army in the new democratic society, the integration of the URNG in the legal society and the returning of refugees and displaced persons. The Agreements contain several governmental obligations to solve the complicated conflicts that continue to jeopardise the peace. The whole process was supervised by MINUGUA (UN) holder of the mandate to verify the human rights Agreements signed during the Peace Process, along with the institutional building and creation of a reliable authority. The Agreement on Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (AIRIP) is most likely the one that aims the highest for the development of a stronger protection of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala. It establishes the constituting of five Commissions for the elaboration of proposals for new legislation concerning the position of the Indigenous in fields of education, recognition of Mayan languages, spirituality, participation in the decision-making process and the distribution of land. The Commissions have been established according to the timetable but not all are working as well as expected. The Commission on the Recognition of the Indigenous Languages of Guatemala worked out a proposal, which was presented for the Congress. There are not only two or three indigenous languages within the State of Guatemala but twenty-three and four of them are so called territorial languages and the rest community languages. The proposition included the recognition of the territorial languages within each region, but it is also followed by huge cost and the issue on how to resolve the problem in practice is still unsolved. The Commission on Spirituality and Holy Places has the mandate to define the holy places and the indigenous administration of the centres of archaeological value. The work is characterised by problems co-ordinating the work of the indigenous organisations and mistrust among the Parties and is not proceeding as well as the other Commissions. The Joint-Commission on Educational Reform finished its work in July 1998, presenting a number of reforms concerning participation, social and ethnic decentralisation and increased investments for the academic efficiency and quality. The following Joint-Commission on Reform and Participation is the holder of the difficult task of assuring the indigenous population their participation rights. It had a very hard timetable to follow and too much work to do, including the overview of proposals presented by other commissions, which slowed down the work. The last Commission, concerning land rights, is still working on a number of issues concerning land registration, administration and distribution of lands and the access to natural resources. The Commission has the most difficult task of all as many of its obligations are established in the Economic and Social Agreement including the developing of an agrarian reform. The Peace Agreements also established the creation of a Commission on Constitutional Reforms. The Commission worked well and can be seen as the best example of a successful co-operation between the indigenous and non-indigenous parties within the whole implementation process. The 56 propositions for the new Constitution were accepted by the Congress and submitted to a referendum for the participation of all Guatemalans. The number of voters turned out low and the proposals were rejected. Hence, the Guatemalan people have to prepare themselves for the long process still ahead of them. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Holmlund, Anna-Karin
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1558383
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:22
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:22
@misc{1558383,
  abstract     = {In recent years more attention has been given to the rights of the indigenous peoples. Global awareness has been raised concerning the difficult circumstances under which they live. The ILO Convention No 169 and the UN Draft Declaration will serve as foundations for a new relationship between States and their indigenous peoples, promoting a stronger protection against discrimination and violations of human rights. Guatemala is probably the Central American country that has suffered the most from civil war and abuse of the indigenous population, consisting of the Mayans, Garífunas and Xincas, representing almost 60% of the Guatemalan population. The underlying cause for the armed conflict was the controversial question of land and natural resources. Guatemala is the only country within its region missing laws concerning land distribution and registration and the agrarian system has kept the country from developing during the last few centuries, with a majority of the population living in severe poverty. The indigenous peoples of Guatemala have held a non-dominant position ever since the Spanish Conquest in 1524 and they have been exploited and abused through out the history. However, in December 1996 the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace was signed between the Government and the armed opposition URNG, which officially marked the end of 36-years of violence and a long process of peace talks. The Agreements signed during the negotiations concern a number of areas of great importance for the Guatemalan people and the development of a strong democracy in the society. Agreements were concluded concerning human rights, the identity and rights of the indigenous peoples, social and economic rights, the role of the army in the new democratic society, the integration of the URNG in the legal society and the returning of refugees and displaced persons. The Agreements contain several governmental obligations to solve the complicated conflicts that continue to jeopardise the peace. The whole process was supervised by MINUGUA (UN) holder of the mandate to verify the human rights Agreements signed during the Peace Process, along with the institutional building and creation of a reliable authority. The Agreement on Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (AIRIP) is most likely the one that aims the highest for the development of a stronger protection of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala. It establishes the constituting of five Commissions for the elaboration of proposals for new legislation concerning the position of the Indigenous in fields of education, recognition of Mayan languages, spirituality, participation in the decision-making process and the distribution of land. The Commissions have been established according to the timetable but not all are working as well as expected. The Commission on the Recognition of the Indigenous Languages of Guatemala worked out a proposal, which was presented for the Congress. There are not only two or three indigenous languages within the State of Guatemala but twenty-three and four of them are so called territorial languages and the rest community languages. The proposition included the recognition of the territorial languages within each region, but it is also followed by huge cost and the issue on how to resolve the problem in practice is still unsolved. The Commission on Spirituality and Holy Places has the mandate to define the holy places and the indigenous administration of the centres of archaeological value. The work is characterised by problems co-ordinating the work of the indigenous organisations and mistrust among the Parties and is not proceeding as well as the other Commissions. The Joint-Commission on Educational Reform finished its work in July 1998, presenting a number of reforms concerning participation, social and ethnic decentralisation and increased investments for the academic efficiency and quality. The following Joint-Commission on Reform and Participation is the holder of the difficult task of assuring the indigenous population their participation rights. It had a very hard timetable to follow and too much work to do, including the overview of proposals presented by other commissions, which slowed down the work. The last Commission, concerning land rights, is still working on a number of issues concerning land registration, administration and distribution of lands and the access to natural resources. The Commission has the most difficult task of all as many of its obligations are established in the Economic and Social Agreement including the developing of an agrarian reform. The Peace Agreements also established the creation of a Commission on Constitutional Reforms. The Commission worked well and can be seen as the best example of a successful co-operation between the indigenous and non-indigenous parties within the whole implementation process. The 56 propositions for the new Constitution were accepted by the Congress and submitted to a referendum for the participation of all Guatemalans. The number of voters turned out low and the proposals were rejected. Hence, the Guatemalan people have to prepare themselves for the long process still ahead of them.},
  author       = {Holmlund, Anna-Karin},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {INDIGENOUS RIGHTS IN GUATEMALA- The Observance of the Agreement on Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples},
  year         = {1999},
}