Indigenous Mothers Against Mercury Open Letter

We, the undersigned Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and daughters, the life givers  and caregivers of our current and future generations of children, are united in our profound concern for the contamination of our natural environment by MERCURY, a heavy metal and neurotoxin.   We know that mercury is released into the environment and our homelands by coal-fired power plants, historic and current gold mines, medical wastes and other sources.   

Mercury contaminates our air, water, lands and traditional foods, in particular the fish upon which so many Indigenous communities depend, producing serious health impacts for persons of all ages.   But the gravest danger is to the health and development of our children.  Exposure to Mercury impairs the neurological development of infants, babies and children, including those still in those mothers%u2019 wombs.

This violates our human rights to health, cultural practices, Treaty rights, subsistence, Rights of the Child, and our Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent as recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights instruments, norms and standards.

For these reasons, we recognize the importance of the current negotiations through the United Nations Environmental Programme to develop an international legally-binding Treaty to ban the release of mercury into the environment.   However, we must ensure that the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women, is included in this process and that States adopt and implement an international treaty that is strong and effective.     

As policy-makers, we call upon you to take a strong stand for the development of the Global Mercury Treaty, and through policies on the national and international levels that will: 

  1. Halt emissions of mercury into the  environment from all sources, including the burning of coal, current and past gold mines and production and disposal of medical products that use mercury   
  2. Commit to thorough cleanup of sources of current contamination including legacy mine sites, working in full collaboration with Indigenous Peoples when their homelands, waters, sacred areas and subsistence foods have been impacted.
  3. Ensure the full, formal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women, in the development of a Global Mercury Treaty and in measures to implement its provisions on the national, regional and local levels.                 

The lives our children and our future are at stake in the decisions you are making.   We pray that the creator will guide your footsteps and your decisions in this vital matter.

 

We, the undersigned Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and daughters, the life givers  and caregivers of our current and future generations of children, are united in our profound concern for the contamination of our natural environment by MERCURY, a heavy metal and neurotoxin.   We know that mercury is released into the environment and our homelands by coal-fired power plants, historic and current gold mines, medical wastes and other sources.   

Mercury contaminates our air, water, lands and traditional foods, in particular the fish upon which so many Indigenous communities depend, producing serious health impacts for persons of all ages.   But the gravest danger is to the health and development of our children.  Exposure to Mercury impairs the neurological development of infants, babies and children, including those still in those mothers%u2019 wombs.

This violates our human rights to health, cultural practices, Treaty rights, subsistence, Rights of the Child, and our Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent as recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international human rights instruments, norms and standards.

For these reasons, we recognize the importance of the current negotiations through the United Nations Environmental Programme to develop an international legally-binding Treaty to ban the release of mercury into the environment.   However, we must ensure that the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women, is included in this process and that States adopt and implement an international treaty that is strong and effective.     

As policy-makers, we call upon you to take a strong stand for the development of the Global Mercury Treaty, and through policies on the national and international levels that will: 

  1. Halt emissions of mercury into the  environment from all sources, including the burning of coal, current and past gold mines and production and disposal of medical products that use mercury   
  2. Commit to thorough cleanup of sources of current contamination including legacy mine sites, working in full collaboration with Indigenous Peoples when their homelands, waters, sacred areas and subsistence foods have been impacted.
  3. Ensure the full, formal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, including Indigenous women, in the development of a Global Mercury Treaty and in measures to implement its provisions on the national, regional and local levels.                 

The lives our children and our future are at stake in the decisions you are making.   We pray that the creator will guide your footsteps and your decisions in this vital matter.

Respectfully signed and submitted by:

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