International Tribunal on Genocide in Central America. Planning Doc. 1: Draft Plan of Action
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On Genocide in Central America
Planning Document #1
DRAFT PLAN OF ACTION
13 June 1986
Center for World Indigenous Studies
Kenmore, WA USA
Copyright 1986 Center For World Indigenous Studies
[Ed. Note: This article may be reproduced for electronic transfer and
posting on computer bulletin boards in part or full, provided that no
profit is made by such transfer and that full credit is given to the
author, the Center For World Indigenous Studies and The Fourth World
Within the sub-continental region of Central America and
Mexico eight states were formed following three hundred years of
colonization by the European states of Great Britain and Spain.
During the 19th century, the former colonies achieved independence
resulting in the formation of the states of Mexico, Guatemala,
Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
This region that had come to be occupied by eight states was
not without an original population. Indeed, even as the colonies
were formed, and subsequently achieved the status of independent
states more than fifty self-governing nations with a history of
territorial occupation extending over 9000 years engaged in what
is now a four hundred year struggle with the colonial states,
their colonies and with the successor states. The patterns of
struggle between the indigenous nations, european states, colonial
populations and the successor states have ranged from direct
violent confrontation, to benign coexistence and to periodic times
of violent confrontation again.
During the last fifteen years (1970-1986), the Central
American Region has experienced renewed violence following a
period of sporadic violence and benign coexistence. Indeed, the
intensity of violence within the region has reached new levels
verging on a near total break-down of state institutions and open
warfare between state governments, competing rebel forces
challenging state authorities and indigenous nations. In a
document promulgated by the U.S. based National Congress of
American Indians in 1982 the climate in Central America was
described in this way:
The more than fifteen million indigenous peoples located
within the asserted boundaries of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua,
Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala and Mexico constitute
majority populations within their respective territorial enclaves.
The majority of Central American Indigenous peoples retain
their own cultural practices, their own native languages and
internal political systems, and have maintained their distinct
group identity despite Spanish and British colonization of their
territories and subsequent formation of eight . . . states by
Spanish and British descendants.
Over the generations, rival groups of Spanish and/or British
descendants have met in violent confrontations to control the
various state governments which have in turn, formulated laws or
used violence to confiscate indigenous lands and natural resources
for the direct benefit of a minority of wealthy, landed families.
Thus forced off of their rich lands into less productive
lands, indigenous populations in Central America and Mexico now
occupy the last remaining parts of their original homelands.
During the last twenty-five years, indigenous territories now
occupied, have been found to contain vast amounts of petroleum,
gold, nickel, timber and other raw materials of economic
importance to the wealthy, landed families; and of significant
strategic importance to the industrial states of North America and
The current violence in Central America reflects a resurgence
of rivalries among non-indigenous groups seeking to hold or gain
control over the instruments of state government to gain ultimate
control over newly found wealth in the remaining indigenous
territories. In the course of resurgent violence, acts of
genocide and ethnocide are being committed against indigenous
groups. Indigenous populations are caught between the rival
forces as a 'third political force' which holds ideals and
aspirations, values and political views in opposition to non-
indigenous rivals." (NCAI Resolution No. 3-82: 1.0)
Allegations of state sponsored and rebel force sponsored
genocide against indigenous peoples have been repeatedly made
throughout the course of the last fifteen years. Sporadic reports
of massacres, torture, forced military service, land seizures,
arbitrary arrests and imprisonments, population relocations, and
systematic attacks on civilian populations within indigenous
nations by state governments and rebel forces have been issued by
indigenous nations themselves, numerous international
nongovernmental organizations, and religious groups. For each of
the first four sessions of the United Nations Working Group on
Indigenous Populations testimony has been presented by
representatives of indigenous nations and nongovernmental
organizations detailing specific instances of genocide against
indigenous nations in Central America. The Organization of
America States has issued a report on the situation of the Miskito
Nation, Sumo Nation and the Rama Nation revealing evidence of
genocidal practices against these nations. And at its Fourth
General Assembly held in Panama in 1984 the World Council of
Indigenous Peoples adopted a resolution calling for the convening
of an International Tribunal on Genocide against Indians in
Guatemala and Nicaragua.
The weight of ever increasing allegations and reports of
instances of genocide being committed against indigenous nations
in Central America and Mexico by states governments and non-state
rebel forces is heavily laid on the table of public opinion.
Yet, despite the growing record of escalating genocide in Central
America and Mexico no state, international state organization or
other responsible party outside of indigenous nations themselves
has given official recognition to the allegations and charges made
to date concerning genocide against indigenous nations. This
condition exists despite the extensive allegations and reports,
and despite the passage of the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by the United Nations General
Assembly in 1948; and the incorporation of this convention in the
domestic laws of signatory states which includes many of the
states in Central America.
No party to the Genocide Convention has invoked Article VIII
of the Convention which authorizes that Any Contracting Party may
call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such
action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider
appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide
or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III . . . (of the
Convention). This despite the frequent submission of allegations
and reports to United Nations Organs.
No party to the Genocide Convention has invoked Article IV
which asserts that Persons committing genocide or any of the other
acts enumerated in Article III shall be punished, whether they are
constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private
individuals. Again, no action under the existing convention has
been taken by responsible parties despite public allegations and
authoritative reports of acts of genocide being committed against
indigenous nations in Central America.
Trial of persons charged with the crime of genocide is
provided for under Article VI of the Genocide Convention relying
upon a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which
the act was committed . . . . But, again despite the charges made
and reports of crimes issued no state within Central America has
taken such action. The Convention further provides for the
establishment of such international penal tribunal as may have
jurisdiction . . has been invoked by a state or other responsible
party. The Genocide Convention is silent on the question of
creating a tribunal.
Absent the explicit or even conditional willingness of states
parties to the Genocide Convention to convene a tribunal to bring
to trial those persons alleged to have committed the crime of
genocide against various indigenous nations in Mexico and Central
America the nations of Sami, Haudenosaunee, Shuswap have decided
to take the initiative with the support and assistance of various
non-governmental organizations including the National Indian Youth
Council, Cultural Survival, Anthropology Resource Center, Indian
Law Resource Center, Center for World Indigenous Studies,
Institute for the Study of Genocide, Sami Institute and the Jewish
That there is sufficient evidence to warrant the convening of
a tribunal goes without question. The trial of individuals and
institutions is contemplated to determine guilt and/or
culpability. An International Tribunal on Genocide in Central
America and Mexico will be convened in the Spring of 1987 hosted
by the Sami Nation in cooperation with the Parliament of Norway.
The Nations of Sami, Shuswap, and Haudenosaunee have joined
together to convene an International Tribunal on Genocide in
Central America in accordance with the natural law of nations to
consider allegations and charges lodged against individuals and
institutions for the crime of genocide against indigenous nations
located within the boundaries of the states of Belize, Costa Rica,
El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama .
In support of this effort the assistance of the Jewish Document
Center (Vienna, Austria), Center for World Indigenous Studies
(Snoqualmie, USA), Sami Institute (Sweden), Institute for the
Study of Genocide (New York, USA), Indian Law Resource Center
(Washington, DC, USA), Anthropology Resource Center (Washington,
DC, USA), Cultural Survival (Boston, USA), and the National Indian
Youth Council (Albuquerque, USA) has been secured to perform
organizational and technical preparations for the Tribunal over a
nine month period beginning in July 1986 and ending in March 1987
when the International Tribunal on Genocide in Central America
will be convened in Oslo, Norway.
The Center for World Indigenous Studies will function as the
Tribunal Secretariat and provide facilities for a Fourth World
Documentation Center which will combine to support the
organization and execution of the International Tribunal. Two
working groups (Working Group on Investigations and Working Group
on Documentation) including participation from convening nations
and supporting organizations will be formed in the early stages
of the project to identify allegations, charges and defendants;
and to identify witnesses for the prosecution. A Tribunal
Steering Committee Chaired by a representative of the
Haudenosaunee Nation and including participation from the various
organizational support groups will be formalized to guide
organizational and tribunal implementation efforts throughout the
A panel of twenty-five eminent authorities on human rights and
international law will be impanelled as the judiciary for the
The findings and judgements of the Tribunal Judiciary will be
made public in the form of a Tribunal Report which will be
transmitted to indigenous nations and states directly as well as
the competent international organizations and non-government
organizations. Following the Tribunal's conclusion, the Fourth
World Documentation Center will continue to function as the
instrument by which the Tribunal's judgements will be impressed
upon competent authorities within states and among international
organizations for implementation.
The purpose of this initiative is to create in the short-term
a forum for the competent consideration of charges and allegations
of genocidal crimes against indigenous nations located in the
region of Central America and Mexico and the rendering of
judgement on the guilt or innocence of parties charged; and the
creation of an ongoing long-term international capability of
monitoring and documenting the extent to which the crime of
genocide is being committed against indigenous nations in Mexico
and Central America and elsewhere in the world.
To organize and conduct an International Tribunal on Crimes of
Genocide in Central America and Mexico and to establish an ongoing
Fourth World Documentation Center concerned with the recording of
events, allegations and charges of genocide and the active
bringing to trial of those parties charged with the crime of
genocide against indigenous nations.
Organize and conduct short-term and long-term fund raising to
support the conduct of an International Tribunal on Genocide in
Organize fund raising to secure up to $64,304 US by July 30,
Organize fund raising to secure up to $200,000 through a
"Pennies for People Campaign" beginning July 15, 1986 and ending
March 10, 1987.
Establish organizational linkages between the International
Tribunal Steering Committee and key Indigenous Nations and State
organizations and governments to arrange facilities and protocols
at a tribunal site by September 1986.
Establish procedures and methods for identifying and securing
potential and actual witnesses by July 30 1986.
Establish a working group of "investigators" charged with
identifying, interviewing and documenting potential witnesses by
August 1986 made up of 5 investigators who will conduct their
inquiries from August through February 1987.
Identify, interview and document up to ten witnesses for each
potential "case area" with initial emphasis being placed on the
Maya Nation (to be concluded by November 1986), the Pipil Nation
(to be concluded by January 1987 and the Miskito, Sumo and Rama
Nations (to be concluded by February 1987).
Secondary emphasis will be placed on Paya in Honduras, Monimbo
in Nicaragua, Boruca in Costa Rica and the Guaymi and San Blas
Kuna in Panama. Emphasis will be placed on the Zapotec and Mixe
in Mexico. Final determinations of actual witnesses will be made
by February 1987.
Establish a working group on documentation with no more than
five individuals and define the methodologies for documentation
(contained in a Documentation Center Plan of Operation) using a
computerized database by August 1986.
Design data collection and data format methodologies by August
Design Final Tribunal Report Format Document by the end of
Organize a database network by October 15, 1986.
Formalize site location, on site support, and facilities for
the International Tribunal by October 1986.
Formalize Tribunal process and procedures by January 1987.
Formalize Tribunal Judiciary Panel by February 1, 1987 with up
to twenty members.
Conduct four Tribunal Steering Committee Progress and Planning
Sessions with an organizational meeting in New York, NY in late
June 1986, a Progress Review meeting in September 1986, a further
Progress and Final Scheduling Meeting in January 1987 and a Final
Scheduling meeting in late February 1987.
Schedule and make final arrangements for Tribunal and witness
transportation to tribunal site by mid February 1987.
Conduct the International Tribunal on Genocide in Central
America by March 20, 1987.
Prepare, publish and circulate the Final Report on the
International Tribunal on Genocide in Central America by May 20,
BUDGETS & EXPENSES SUMMARY
It is anticipated that for the period from June 1986 through
March 1987 costs associated with the development and conduct of
the International Tribunal on Genocide in Central America will be
an estimated $301,416. This overall cost is distributed across
six functional categories as follows: Administration ($16,151
[5.36%]), Fund Raising ($56,900 [18.88%]), Tribunal ($129,579
[42.99%]), Documents Center ($32,614 [10.82%]), Witness
Preparations ($34,222 [11.35%]), and Tribunal Steering Committee
($31,951 [10.60%]). The bulk of these costs (59.22%) will be
expended during the last three months of the project period
(January, February and March).
Expenditures by Budget Category are anticipated to include:
Personnel ($71,716 or 23.79%), Consultants ($10,500 or 3.48%),
Travel ($163,000 or 54.08%), General Expenses ($56,200 or 18.64%).
Personnel costs cover employment of a full-time Coordinator,
full-time Assistant Coordinator, part-time Researcher and a part-
time Administrative Assistant and Secretary. Consultant costs are
anticipated to include expenses for interpreters and translators
as well as temporary experts. Travel includes a primary expense
for witnesses and judges who will participate in the Tribunal,
Steering Committee travel to planning meetings and the Tribunal
and staff and investigator expenses for fund-raising, witness
preparation and organizational linkages. General Expenses include
costs for supplies, copy/duplication, postage, equipment leasing
for core operations and the tribunal, telephone and telegraph,
accounting services for audits and expenses associated with the
publication and distribution of a final Tribunal report.
FUND RAISING STRATEGY
The International Tribunal and the Fourth World Documentation
Center are anticipated to receive the majority of funding support
directly from indigenous communities and indigenous governments
(73%). The remainder will be secured from the Jewish
Documentation Center (its own fund-raising activities), Churches,
individual contributions from "non-indigenous", state citizens,
and non-governmental organizations.
Indigenous communities the world over will be invited to make
individual and small group contributions in amounts ranging from
the equivalent of one cent (US) to one dollar (US). While all
indigenous communities, families and individuals will be invited
to participate in what will be known as the "PENNIES FOR PEOPLE"
campaign to support the International Tribunal on Genocide in
Central America, primary emphasis will be placed on indigenous
nations in the South Pacific, North America, Central America,
South America and Western Europe. The "PENNIES FOR PEOPLE" will
have to reach in excess of 550,000 people to raise an estimated
$200,000 (US). Accordingly, the fund raising campaign will be
organized at the community level to invite individual and family
contributions. To organize this campaign it is estimated that
seed funding will have to be $47,415 (US) or 16.667% of the total
projected to be raised.
Funding raising efforts aimed at securing support from non-
governmental organizations, churches, indigenous governments and
non-indigenous individuals are expected to require $9486 (US) or
an amount equal to 11.24% of the $84,397 (US) designated to be
The Jewish Documentation Center is anticipated to assume the
costs for raising its contribution to the Tribunal.
The funds required to raise $244,516 (US) to support the
Tribunal and the Documentation Center will be $56,900 (US). This
sum combined with the $244,516 (US) equals the total budget of
$301,416 (US) currently projected.
Forty-one percent of the projected budget is anticipated to be
spent between June 1986 and December 1986. Fifty-nine percent of
the projected budget is expected to be spent during the last three
months of the project. In accordance with these projections,
Operational and fund raising support amounting to $64,304 (US)
must be secured within the first three months of operation. After
this period an average of $40,000 must be raised each month to
cover monthly operational costs and to support the ballooned
expenses near the end of the project period.
INDIAN NATIONS WITHIN CENTRAL AMERICAN STATES
(Nations in boldface type suggested for testimony at the Tribunal)
23 MAYAN NATIONS -- genocide, massacres, murder,
torture arbitrary arrests, forced
military service, army bombings,
destruction of villages, forced
relocation, displaced populations,
international refugees, denial of
MAYA (MOPAN AND KEKTCHI) -- ethnocide, paraquat
spraying, land invasions.
PAYA -- seizure of land, appropriation of resources,
PIPIL -- genocide, massacres, murder, torture, arbitrary
arrest, forced military service, army bombings,
destruction of villages, displaced populations,
international refugees, denial of asylum.
Monimbo -- forced military service, land expropriation,
appropriation of resources, displaced
MISKITO -- genocide, massacres, murder, torture,
arbitrary arrests, forced military service,
seizure of lands, appropriation of resources,
army bombings, destruction of villages,
forced relocation, displaced peoples,
international refugees, denial of asylum.
BORUCA -- seizure of lands, appropriation of resources,
ethnocide, denial of fundamental rights.
GUAYMI -- dispossession, imposed roads, pipeline, Cerro
Colorado copper mine, Teribe-Changuinola
hydroelectric project, arrests and
SAN BLAS KUNA -- The Kuna have their own Indian-run
autonomous nation, including lands,
waters and resources. What the Kuna
have is a goal for most other
1985 Total Population 1985 Population of % of Indige-
Claimed by State Indigenous Nations nous Peoples
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Guatemala 8,000,000 > 4,200,000 > 50%
Belize 200,000 20,000 10%
Honduras 4,400,000 350,000 8%
El Salvador 5,100,000 1,025,000 20%
Nicaragua 3,000,000 150,000 5%
Costa Rica 2,600,000 25,000 0.1%
Panama 2,000,000 120,000 6%
------------- ------------ -------
25,300,000 5,890,000 23%
** The collective Indian population in Central America is greater
than 50% of the member states of the United Nations.
** Yet within each Central American state and internationally,
indigenous nations have no political representation, with the
exception of the San Blas Kuna Nation.
** Almost six million people -- Indians -- are the survivors of
500 years of genocide in Central America. But, today, these
six million survivors are threatened by the same genocide that
exterminated their forefathers: European wars and conquest,
death and invasion, seizure of lands, theft of resources.
** The Indian population of Central America is larger than the
population of Israel.
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