STILL LAGGING ON INDIGENOUS RIGHTS, UN EXPERTS WARN
peoples still have a long way to go before they could have full enjoyment
of their human rights as expressed in the historic declaration on
their rights which was adopted 10 years ago.
Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine,
Albert K. Barume and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
GENEVA / NEW YORK (IPS) - The world’s indigenous
peoples still face huge challenges a decade after the adoption of
an historic declaration on their rights, a group of United Nations
experts and specialist bodies has warned. Speaking ahead of the International
Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, the group says
States must put words into action to end discrimination, exclusion
and lack of protection illustrated by the worsening murder rate of
human rights defenders.
The joint statement from the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum
on Indigenous Issues, the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
reads as follows:
“It is now 10 years since the UN Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly, as the
most comprehensive international human rights instrument for indigenous
peoples. The Declaration, which took more than 20 years to negotiate,
stands today as a beacon of progress, a framework for reconciliation
and a benchmark of rights.
But a decade on, we need to acknowledge the vast challenges that remain.
In too many cases, indigenous peoples are now facing even greater
struggles and rights violations than they did 10 years ago.
Indigenous peoples still suffer from racism, discrimination,
and unequal access to basic services including healthcare and education.
Where statistical data is available, it shows clearly that they are
left behind on all fronts, facing disproportionately higher levels
of poverty, lower life expectancy and worse educational outcomes.
Indigenous peoples face particularly acute challenges
due to loss of their lands and rights over resources, which are pillars
of their livelihoods and cultural identities.
women face double discrimination, both as women and as indigenous
peoples. They are frequently excluded from decision-making processes
and land rights, and many suffer violence.
We call on all States to ensure that indigenous women
fully enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Declaration and emphasize
that their rights are a concern for all of us. The worsening human
rights situation of indigenous peoples across the globe is illustrated
by the extreme, harsh and risky working conditions of indigenous human
Individuals and communities who dare to defend indigenous
rights find themselves labelled as obstacles to progress, anti-development
forces, and in some cases, enemies of the State or terrorists.
They even risk death. Last year alone, some sources suggest
that 281 human rights defenders were murdered in 25 countries – more
than double the number who died in 2014. Half of them were working
to defend land, indigenous and environmental rights.
We urge States to protect indigenous human rights defenders.
Crimes committed against them must be duly investigated and prosecuted,
and those responsible brought to justice.
Indigenous peoples are increasingly being drawn into conflicts
over their lands, resources and rights. Lasting peace requires that
States, with the support of the international community, establish
conflict resolution mechanisms with the full and effective participation
of indigenous peoples’, in particular indigenous women.
Many States still do not recognize indigenous peoples,
and in particular indigenous women and youth still face a lack of
official recognition and direct political participation. Even in States
where laws are in place, the Declaration has not been fully implemented.
It is high time to recognize and strengthen indigenous
peoples’ own forms of governance and representation, in order to establish
constructive dialogue and engagement with international and national
authorities, public officials and the private sector.
The minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being
of the indigenous peoples of the world, as set out in the Declaration,
must now be met.
These include the rights to identity, language, health,
education and self-determination, alongside the duty of States to
consult and cooperate with indigenous peoples to obtain their free,
prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing measures
that may affect them.
The Declaration represents important shifts in both structure
and the practice of global politics, and the last 10 years have seen
some positive changes in the situation of indigenous peoples and greater
respect for indigenous worldviews.
But we still have a long way to go before indigenous peoples
have full enjoyment of their human rights as expressed in the Declaration.
We call on all States to close the gap between words and action, and
to act now to deliver equality and full rights for all people from
indigenous backgrounds. – Third World Network Features.
About the author: Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine is Chairperson of
the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Albert K. Barume is
chairman of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the Special Rapporteur on the
rights of indigenous peoples
above article is reproduced from Inter Press Service (IPS), 7 August
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