OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON, February 23 – The Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS), working with Indigenous nations and the world’s states’ governments, began planning and organizing the first-ever Congress of Nations and States (CNS) in the Summer of 2019. The Congress’s purpose is to serve as a new international institution within which Indigenous nations and international states can engage on an equal basis to achieve shared goals.
The CNS has already begun to set new pathways for mutually beneficial cooperation between nations and states. The agenda includes economic, environmental, security, and justice policies that respond to global conflicts, violence, cultural repressions, state instability, and inequalities and barriers to reversing the adverse effects of climate change and biodiversity collapse, directly threatening the worlds’ countries and Indigenous nations.
Since 1977, Indigenous nations and international states have engaged diplomatically to establish a wide range of policies and minimal standards to ensure the rights of Indigenous nations and states. Initial results of these international negotiations included the International Labor Organization’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention in 1989, Biodiversity Convention 1994, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007.
Despite setting the minimal standards for relations between Indigenous nations and states, virtually none have been implemented in fifty years. “The Congress of Nations and States fills the gap between already agreed principles and policies formalized by indigenous nations and international states and implementation of those agreements,” according to the CNS Secretary General Rudolph Rÿser.
In August 2020, the CNS Preparatory Body of ten officials began forming six Specialized Commissions mandated to develop new international legislation. Each Commission is tasked with drafting binding resolutions establishing procedures for nations and states to enact and implement agreements. The Commissions mandated by the Preparatory Body have responsibility for the main topics Economic, Environmental, Political, Culture and Society, Security and Justice.
The thirty-four Commissioners are from Western Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, including 15 men and women from Indigenous nations and 19 from states. The Commissioners are attorneys, academics, diplomats, political leaders, and non-governmental officials. Each Specialized Commission is mandated to undertake inquiries, gather relevant information, and receive recommendations and proposals from nations, states, NGOs, labor organizations, businesses, religious organizations, and the general public.
The Specialized Commissions will draft Protocol Resolutions between February 26, 2021, and July 2022., while the Congress is expected to convene in September 2022.