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Assembly of First Nations Honours Miguel Alfonso Martinez, Cuban Specialist on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Print E-mail

In a moving ceremony 12 July 2011, during its 32nd Annual Assembly in Moncton NB, the Assembly of First Nations conferred the inaugural Treaty Rights Recognition award on the late Miguel Alfonso Martinez.

In presenting the award, National Chief Shawn Atleo underscored the invaluable contribution made by Miguel Alfonso to the defence of the rights of indigenous peoples around the globe, particularly the affirmation of rights established under various treaties. National Chief Atleo further outlined the profound respect and esteem with which Mr. Alfonso was held by indigenous peoples across the world. A Mi'kmaq elder then performed a song written in Mi'kmaq to specifically honour the memory and contribution of Mr. Alfonso. In receiving the award on behalf of her late husband, Portia Sigelbaum emphasized Mr. Alfonso's dedication to the cause of indigenous peoples, describing his many journeys around the world to talk directly to communities, including those in the Canadian north.

Miguel Alfonso Martinez (b. Havana, 16 May 1935; d. 1 Feb 2010) was an outstanding diplomat, lawyer and academic, serving in various capacities in the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representing Cuba at numerous international meetings and acting as the Ministry's spokesperson during 1994-97. As one of Cuba's most prominent diplomats he was recognized as a foremost specialist on human rights. In particular, he enjoyed international acclaim for his work on the rights of indigenous peoples. As United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Study on Treaties, Agreements and Constructive Arrangements between States and Indigenous Peoples, Chair of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and as First Chairman of the Advisory Committee to the UN Human Rights Council, he made an indelible contribution to the struggle of indigenous peoples to realize their rights.


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