Patrick Thornberry
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The Inter-American system and indigenous peoples
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Many of the world's indigenous peoples are found within the jurisdictions of the member States of the Organisation of American States (OAS). The OAS is the latest of a succession of American organisations, and was established at the Ninth International Conference of American States, held in Bogota in 1948. The OAS Charter makes limited but significant allusion to human rights, couched in strongly individualist terms. There is considerable emphasis throughout the Charter on the achievement of democracy, the elimination of extreme poverty, social justice and on economic development, regional integration and trade. Indigenous peoples are not specifically mentioned. For such peoples, disparate directions are signposted by the Charter. On the one hand, the cultural values of the American countries are to be cherished, and the member States ‘will consider themselves individually and jointly bound to preserve and enrich the cultural heritage of the American peoples’.

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