Tag Archives: Convention on Biological Diversity

[Blog] Visa Rejection: Questions to the Canadian Government By Jose Mario De Vega

Visa Rejection: Questions to the Canadian Government
By Jose Mario De Vega

I am writing with regard to the exchange of messages between Faizi and Nele concerning the fact that our Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Alliance “has taken knowledge of at least two visa rejections by Canadian embassies”. This is a serious matter that demands our attention.

Mario De Vega

Worst, the people whole visa were rejected are confirmed delegates that are accredited to the CBD meetings.

Indeed, “this is not only unfair for the persons involved, this is also against the principles of the Convention, as the participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society in general is crucial to CBD decision making.”

Said Convention is an “Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Concerning the Headquarters of the Convention Secretariat (E101442 – CTS 1996 No. 28)”.

The agreement was signed by Robert Fowles for the Government of Canada and Elizabeth Dowdesswell for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on October 25, 1996.

I would like to add and deeply stress that, the act of Canada in rejecting the visa application of this people is not only unjust, but undeniably absurd and utterly preposterous!

The Canadian government specifically violated Article 8 (1) and (2) which specifically and expressly provided that:

Access to the Premises of the Secretariat

The competent Canadian authorities shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the Premises of the Secretariat of representatives of Parties to the Convention, observers, experts on missions, or other persons invited by the Secretariat thereto on official business.

Visas, where required, for persons referred to in paragraph 1, shall be issued by the Government free of charge and as promptly as possible.

I am wondering what is the ground or the reason behind the rejection of the visa application! It is clear that those delegates were confirmed and checked by CBD, hence what more evidence does the Canadian government need?

The status and background of those individuals are beyond dispute and their business in Canada is clearly spelt out, hence again what are the reasons or the ground relied upon by the authorities in deciding for their visa rejection?

Indeed, CBD state parties are “committed under the CBD to promote the participation of indigenous and local communities, who live as directly dependent on customary use of biodiversity and its regeneration, not having much private monetary resources.”

I share Ville-Veikko’s view that:

“When indigenous representatives would participate to contribute to wider application of their knowledge, innovations and practices of their customary sustainable use of biodiversity, they are required first to prove such private monetary income or property, which fulfills the standards of modern over-consuming life – even if their participation would have been covered by supporting organisations and recommended by the CBD.

“As the participation of indigenous and local communities is crucial for the CBD process, commitments or meetings like WG8J, it is necessary that the costs of their participation can be covered by other facilitating instances or organisations – including CBD Alliance.

“If this is not respected, then:

“How would international community promote wider application of the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous communities’ sustainable life if it controls such communities’ international access and sharing by such procedures, standards, requirements or privileges of the mainstream, which remain alien to indigenous cultures and discriminate against their less over-consuming sustainable life?”

Our CBD coordinator, Ms. Nele Marien is totally in point when she pointed out that:

“Excluding certain groups from assisting to the meetings, especially those directly involved, would render the CBD less democratic.

“Therefore, the CBD Alliance wishes to formally raise this issue.”

As the CBD Chairperson Faizi said:

“This is indeed a serious issue and a glaring violation of the host country agreement to provide access (i.e. visa) to all bona fide participants. This issue was also raised in the final INC CBD meeting where Kenya, Spain and Canada were competing for the CBD Headquarter, when many of us argued in favour of Kenya for easy access (visa) and low expense, but Canada had its way…argued that visas would be unfaling in coming for bona fide participants.”

Undeniably, Canada has violated the said agreement which has been agreed upon by all relevant parties in good faith.

Second, they also breached the promise that they made: visa would be given to those who are bona fide participants.

Faizi continued that said convention was “legally agreed in the host country agreement (between the government of Canada and the United Nations). I had sent a copy of the agreement to this list some 4-5 years ago when such an issue cropped up”.

I overwhelmingly concur with the Chairperson that:

1. We should take this crucial and important issue with the President of CBD Bureau, ES, and the Canadian CBD focal point and the Canadian foreign ministry.

2. We must also register a firm protestation and strong complaint to the credentials committee of the SBSTTA, 8j meetings.

3. Needless to state, we must promptly issue a public statement to denounce this unjust and unfair act of the Canadian government.

4. Besides all of these actions, we can also bring a civil suit to the local court to demand for justice and/or apology.

Indeed, visa rejection in violation of the host country agreement is a global public issue therefore we all must strongly and firmly condemn this as one, because an unjust act committed to one of our delegate is the same as an unjust act committed to all of us!

We must all act on this in order for this kind of horrible event not to happen again in the future!

Lastly, I agreed with the sharp observation of the Chairperson that:

“This once again reinforces the argument that multilateral events should not be held in countries that a) ask bona fide delegates to prove that they will not stay in that country as illegal emigrant, b) face high security threat so that every visa applicant has to prove that h/she is not a terrorist…
“Indeed there are plenty of countries in the world that are delegate friendly, low cost and having good infrastructure.”

This is a shame to Canada and they have to do the right thing. They have to acknowledge their mistake, apologize to CBD and approve without question those visas that they unjustly and discriminately rejected!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega


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[Statement] GANUN NA LANG BA YUN? by Akbayan Representative Kaka J. Bag-ao


Privilege Speech on World Environment Day 2012
Akbayan Representative Kaka J. Bag-ao
Principal Author, House Bill 3763 (Minerals Management Bill)

Akbayan Representative Kaka J. Bag-ao. File photo source Akbayanyouth.org

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you in the matter of my personal and collective privilege regarding the state of the Philippine Environment and the celebration of World Environment Day tomorrow, June 5, 2011.

The long and tedious impeachment process that has captured the focus and energy of the whole country is finally over. Now it is time for us legislators to continue with and fast-track our legislative work to address the issues which endanger the lives of our people and decrease the sustainability and livelihood of our communities. Among these problems is the gradual but certain degradation of our environment.

Mr. Speaker, Today, we will celebrate tomorrow the World Environment Day under the theme “Green Economy: Does this include you?” Today’s nationally coordinated actions present and dramatize the current plight of mining-affected communities and of the Philippines in general, under the current mining regime.

First, the environmental impacts of mining include the destruction of key biodiversity areas in the Philippines. Mining can never be sustainable. Destruction of resources and biodiversity loss is inevitable. According to the 4th Philippine National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2009, 23 flagship mining projects are located in biodiversity areas and overlap with key biodiversity areas namely Palawan, Mindoro, Romblon, Sierra Madre, Compostela Valley, Surigao del Sur and Norte, and other various parts of Mindanao. Further, contrary to claims that ‘there is life in mining’, there can never be life when you destroy life itself. The presence of fully functioning ecosystems allows human beings to live on this planet. Today, on World Environment Day, we ask: “Pagkasira ng kalikasan dahil sa mina, ganun na lang ba yun?

Second, mining destroys agricultural lands and water sources. Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, mining activities have direct impact on irrigation and watershed areas—water rights are completely given to mining companies, threatening the quality and ample supply of water needed by communities. Meanwhile, the effects of mining and mine tailings contaminate municipal waters and coastal areas. In one particular case in McArthur, Leyte, these mine tailings brough about fish kill. Our question now is, “Fish kill sa Lake Bito, ganun na lang ba yun?”

Third, mining instigates human rights violations and killing of anti-mining advocates. My fellow legislators, Mr. Speaker, we should note that the escalation of social conflicts and human rights violations are direct effects of mining to communities. More than 10 anti-mining advocates have been killed in the last couple of years and justice for them remains elusive. We ask: “Pag-paslang at pananakot ng mga mining companies sa mga ordinaryong tao, ganun na lang ba yun?”

Fourth, mining tramples upon Ancestral lands and their right to self-determination. Despite the safeguards provided by the Indigenous People Rights Act, the requirement on free, prior and informed consent is being routinely violated by mining companies. Ancestral lands are swarmed with numerous and overlapping mining applications, causing the displacement of IP communities. Ganun na lang ba yun?

Fifth, abandoned mine sites pose risks to human and natural habitats. Despite the passage of the Climate Change Act and Disaster Risk Reduction Act, and the concrete lessons on the impacts of climate change that we ourselves experienced, the government still thinks mining should be pursued. Mr. Speaker, we believe that no mining should be allowed in hazard-susceptible areas. Meanwhile, more than 8,000 abandoned and idle mine sites are not assessed; they are left unattended and are not decommissioned properly. Ganun na lang ba yun?

We ask ourselves a very basic question on the rape of our environment and natural resources, “GANUN NA LANG BA YUN?”

We, as legislators call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the lead agency responsible for the protection, conservation and management of the country’s environment and natural resources, to stop supporting the liberalization and aggressive promotion of the mining industry. Given the state of environment now, we call for a paradigm shift—from the aggressive promotion of mining in the Philippines to the rational exploration, development and utilization of our mineral resources.

We, as legislators, should look at the real negative impacts of mining to the communities and the environment and say to ourselves: “Meron tayong magagawa!” Let us support the passage of the new minerals management bill—also known as the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012.

As we commemorate the World Environment Day today, we are also looking for environmental heroes and grassroots leaders who are involved in efforts at the local level, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we are proud to have Fr. Edwin “Edu” Gariguez—who was recently proclaimed as an Environmental Hero in ceremonial rites held last April 16, 2012 at the San Francisco Opera House in the United States of America for his endeavour to protect the Mangyan indigenous communities of Mindoro from impending environmental havoc brought by extractive mining activities in the area—in this august chamber.

Mr. Speaker, I have filed House Resolution No. 2474 commending Fr. Edwin “Edu” Gariguez for being awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize Award. The recognition of his achievements and leadership only affirms that we legislators, like every Filipino citizen, can also be environmental heroes in our own little way and that, truly, “Meron tayong magagawa para sa ating kalikasan! Pass the Philippine Mineral Resources Act of 2012!”

Maraming salamat po.

Source: http://www.akbayan.org.ph/news/12-press-releases-press-releases/200-ganun-na-lang-ba-yun

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