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In the opening session of the General Assembly, held in the Defence Meeting Room in the Italian Senate, Sen. Emma Bonino, vice-president of the Italian Senate welcomed fresh ideas in a rapidly changing world that maintain pathways of nonviolence. Sen. Marco Perduca, who chaired the opening session, introduced Sen. Pietro Marcenaro who discussed the blurred lines between the treatment of the words "asylum" and "immigration", a pertinent issue for the UNPO Members who have been exiled from their homelands, while Sen. Luigi Ramponi spoke on behalf of Sen. Mauro Del Vecchio (Head of peacekeeping mission of Afghanistan) to express solidarity with participants in their campaign. Former MEP Mr. Marco Panella, Leader of the Nonviolent Radical Party addressed the Assembly on the right to democratic procedures and Louisa Cohen Greve from the National Endowment for Democracy explained the importance of communities defining their own models of democracy based on the key values enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Outgoing UNPO President Mr. Ledum Mitee said that his election as President in 2006 came at "a challenging period in the life of the organization" but his two terms were marked by successes of structural reform and a significant increase in the participation of Members. The organisation he said, had moved in a positive direction and better reflected Members' current realities. In his report, General Secretary of UNPO Marino Busdachin revealed the launch of a new program on "Genuine Autonomy" with the planned publication of an Atlas on Autonomy in the World by the end of the year and a series of conferences and training sessions on these issues.
Following two days of cooperative dialogue, during which time, Members highlighted their key concerns and identified common themes, a resolution was adopted to guide the future direction of the activities of UNPO (full text below). It focused primarily on the need to plan major activities in 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of UNPO's foundation and made a commitment to find "peaceful solutions to political conflicts by assessing the merits of alternative means of power sharing to support and develop democracy." UNPO Members were also invited to contribute to the General Council of the Nonviolent Radical Party.
The final item on the agenda was the election of the new Presidency. The newly elected President, Mr. Ngawang Choephel, who said "While UNPO is now committed to launch a series of non-violent initiatives to celebrate its 20th Anniversary next year, another important task envisaged before the organisation will be to increase the Membership of unrepresented peoples from the Americas so that their aspirations and human rights struggles are also not forgotten." Ms. Lana Agrba from Abkhazia was elected as Vice President and reminded the participants that solutions to the multiple problems Members face are only found through collaboration. The new UNPO Presidency consists of Afrikaners, Southern Cameroon, Khmer Krom, West Balochistan, Sindh, Taiwan, Mapuche, East Turkestan and the Hungarians in Romania.
UNPO would like to express sincere gratitude to Senator Marco Perduca and the Nonviolent Radical Party for their support in hosting this General Assembly. UNPO commends Ledum Mitee, Maysing Yang and the outgoing Presidency for their dedicated service to the organization and congratulates the new Presidency on their election.
For a copy of the press release click here
Xth Session of the UNPO General Assembly
27-30 May 2010 - Rome, Italy
On the occasion of the Xth session of the UNPO General Assembly, the following general resolution was adopted.
The UNPO General Assembly:
Reaffirms the commitment of Members to democracy, nonviolence, and the right to self-determination, as recognised in various international declarations and treaties including the UNPO Covenant;
Reiterates its solidarity with and full support of UNPO Members, as well as other victims of oppression, in their peaceful struggle to protect and preserve their rights and fundamental freedoms;
Declares its continued engagement with the international community and expresses serious concern on the limited opportunities for the voice of marginalised and unrepresented peoples to be heard;
Regrets that despite their obligations and pledges before the United Nations and the international community, States continue to commit serious human rights violations with impunity, and marginalise national communities and indigenous peoples without censure;
Stresses the importance of the preservation of culture, identity and language for the survival of minority and indigenous groups.
Therefore, the UNPO General Assembly;
Resolves to mark the 20th Anniversary of UNPO in 2011 with initiatives based on core, Gandhian values of nonviolent civil action, which will seek greater commitment to and understanding of the tenets of freedom, peace, truth and democracy;
Condemns the refoulement of asylum seekers to repressive countries in which they face persecution, torture or execution;
Urges states to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ratify ILO Convention 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, with particular concern for the degradation of Members' local environs, ongoing exploitation of their natural resources and their marginalisation from decision-making processes.
Advocates creativity in finding peaceful solutions to political conflicts by assessing the merits of alternative means of power sharing to support and develop democracy, thus reaffirming the right to self determination.
Demands an end to the prevailing culture of impunity in which UNPO Members fall victim to secret detentions, extrajudicial executions, restrictions on movement, forced exile and displacement, illicit and illegal military practices, land and property extortion, violations of constitutional rights, information and economic embargos, torture and other inhumane and cruel treatment.
Urges States to demonstrate commitment to combating enforced disappearances by ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2006).
For a copy of the General Resolution click here