Monday, 20 November 2017

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Indigenous people look to their future

United Nations Photo  2.0 Generic CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

23 September 2014 - The first ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples that began yesterday in New York is hosting prominent guests from UN-member states as well as a wide array of representatives from the World’s indigenous people, including the Inuit and Sami. Moreover, the UN-Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the new High-Commissioner for Human Rights and the chairman of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) are all taking part in the conference.

Indigenous peoples represent remarkable diversity – more than 5,000 distinct groups in some 90 countries. They make up more than 5 per cent of the world’s population, some 370 million people. Yet, they are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

United Nations Photo 2.0 Generic CC BY-NC-ND 2.0“Although there is, at both the international and domestic levels, a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, there are still numerous obstacles preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their human rights,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples before the UN Human Rights Council in the run-up to the conference.

The purpose of the conference is to exchange viewpoints and best practices in relation to the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, which are manifested in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This document recognizes their right to self-determination and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

“Although there is, at both the international and domestic levels, a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, there are still numerous obstacles preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their human rights,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples before the UN Human Rights Council in the run-up to the meeting.

The conference is expected to result in formal consent on an ambitious final document, which will act as a reference point for future work and the continuous implementation of indigenous people’s rights.

At the Opening of the World Conference, Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon quoted the longtime indigenous activist and former member of the Permanent Forum, Tonya Gonnella Frichner, once said, “Indigenous peoples all [speak many] different languages but in our meetings, we are speaking one language. Our relationship to Mother Earth is identical.” He added, "Please join your voices in a harmonious chorus to secure your rights and protect our planet."

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