Seventy-seventh Session,
16th Meeting (AM)

Indigenous Peoples Still Suffer from Poverty, Climate Change and Loss of Ancestral Lands, Delegates Highlight in Third Committee

Special Rapporteur Stresses Industrialization, Overconsumption, Climate Change Lead to Biodiversity Decline in Indigenous Lands

While steps are being taken to empower and recognize the painful history of indigenous peoples, they are still disproportionately affected by poverty and climate change, the Third Committee (Social Humanitarian, Cultural) heard today as it took up the rights of indigenous peoples.

Briefing the committee, José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, highlighted the correlation between secure indigenous land tenure and effective conservation, lamenting the failure to protect these lands and the continuing violation of indigenous peoples’ rights.  Stressing that indigenous peoples fear a new wave of green investments without recognition of their land tenure and knowledge, he said the “real drivers of biodiversity decline, such as industrialization, overconsumption and climate change, must be addressed”.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, delegates agreed that indigenous people play a key role in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.  Canada’s delegate said her country has established a Day of Truth to recognize indigenous suffering, while the representative of Ukraine condemned the Russian aggression in her country, particularly the targeted drafting into the Russian military of the indigenous Tatars in Crimea.

Turning to their general debate, delegates shared progress and hinderances to the empowerment of indigenous peoples, calling for redoubled political will and multilateral cooperation to ensure they maintain access to their ancestral land and knowledge, and that States incorporate them into climate change policy.

The representative of Nepal observed that Indigenous Peoples make up less than 5 per cent of the global population, but account for about 19 per cent of the extreme poor, a figure which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  He said his Government will allocate 27 per cent of its service quotas to indigenous communities.

Highlighting a strengthened relationship with the Māori people, New Zealand’s delegate noted the contribution of indigenous peoples in safeguarding the environment from degradation, underscoring that “the values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (generosity and care) and whanaungatanga (connectedness) were critical to the success of indigenous-led initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Continuing in a similar vein, the representative of Cameroon said that the Baka Pygmy population live on the land of the DJA World Heritage site, where they contribute to the cultural value of its preservation.

Panama’s delegate offered concrete examples to integrate and empower indigenous peoples, citing an integral development plan that includes strategies to mitigate the risks of climate change as well as a new law establishing the first autonomous university for indigenous peoples.

Also speaking were representatives of Mexico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Russian Federation, Colombia, South Africa, India, Honduras, Cuba, Iran, Malaysia, Paraguay, Nicaragua, United States, Australia, Guatemala, Japan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Indonesia, United Republic of Tanzania and China.

A representative from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Permanent Observer for the Holy Sea also spoke.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 13 October, at 10 a.m. to discuss human rights.

Interactive Dialogue

JOSÉ FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, noted that several countries in the Americas celebrated a holiday to commemorate Christopher Columbus this week, but many States in the United States and local Governments have either opted not to or have replaced it with a national Indigenous People’s Day.  He encouraged States around the world to observe a day established in cooperation with indigenous peoples that recognizes harm done to them as well as their cultures and rights.  Focusing on protected areas and the obligations of States and international organizations to respect and protect Indigenous People’s rights, he said that traditional indigenous lands make up over 20 per cent of the world’s surface and overlap with areas that hold 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity.  Noting the correlation between secure indigenous land tenure and effective conservation as well as their integral role in sustainability, he lamented the failure to protect these lands and the continuing violation of Indigenous People’s rights.  Recalling the “30 by 30 Alliance for Biodiversity”, which aims to increase the amount of protected land and sea by 30 per cent by 2030, he said that indigenous peoples have not been assured that their rights will be preserved in the process.  They fear a new wave of green investments without recognition of their land tenure and knowledge as well as restricted access to their resources and “fortress conservation”, which has resulted in forced eviction and killings.  Instead, “real drivers of biodiversity decline, such as industrialization, overconsumption and climate change, must be addressed”, he said, adding that enlarging the global protected area surface without ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples dependent on those areas is not the solution.  Indigenous peoples call for the recognition of their rights under international law, including the right to free, prior and informed consent, he said.

In the ensuing interactive dialogue, delegates highlighted the key role that indigenous peoples play in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation, lamenting their poor treatment historically as well as forced land evictions and land loss from extraction industries and illegal logging.

The delegate of Finland, speaking on behalf of the Baltic States, highlighted the unfair paradox that indigenous peoples are key to land conservation and climate protection, but also disproportionately affected by climate change.

The delegate of United Republic of Tanzania objected to the Special Rapporteur’s report, saying that relocation in the Ngorongoro region is not a forced eviction, and asked him not to treat those residents as indigenous.

The delegate of Canada said her country has established the yearly “National Day of Truth” to facilitate reconciliation.

The representative of Iran said she was appalled by the systemic discrimination of indigenous peoples in Canada, the United States and other formerly colonized countries.

The delegate of Costa Rica stressed that indigenous peoples must be able to self-determine.

The representative of Ukraine condemned the Russian aggression in her country, particularly against the indigenous Tartars in Crimea, who are affected by 80 per cent of the Russian Federation’s conscriptions into the conflict, calling on the Special Rapporteur to draw attention to this issue.

Also speaking in the interactive dialogue were representatives of Syria and China.  The representative of the European Union spoke in its capacity as an observer.


SILVIO GONZATO, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, expressed his bloc’s solidarity with the over 476 million indigenous persons worldwide.  Indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected by poverty, climate change, violence and discrimination, he said.  “The European Union condemns the disproportional mobilization of Crimean Tatars on the occupied Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and of other indigenous peoples on the territory of Russia”, he said.  Stressing the impact of the pandemic on indigenous peoples, he said they are critical defenders of more than 80 per cent of biological diversity, but severely impacted by illegal mining and logging, climate change and environmental degradation.  He pointed to European actions for more effective rules on responsible business conduct, including on indigenous lands.  Noting that 60 per cent of approximately 358 human rights defenders killed in 2021 were indigenous human rights defenders, he encouraged States to support this group.  Indigenous peoples contribute to the world’s linguistic diversity, with 5,000 languages, a value the bloc is committed to protect, he added.

LUIS GERARDO ELIZONDO BELDEN (Mexico), on behalf of the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples, warned that across the world indigenous peoples face high rates of marginalization and are three times more likely to live in extreme poverty.  The pandemic has put a spotlight on a host of pre-existing challenges faced by the majority of the world’s indigenous peoples, such as poverty, food insecurity, the lack of adequate access to health, sanitation and social services.  Indigenous elders, persons with disabilities, women and children, as well as persons who experience discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, are among the most vulnerable to systemic discrimination, he underscored, adding that Indigenous women and girls endure intersecting forms of violence.  To this end, he called for protection of indigenous human rights defenders, who are often subject to attacks and intimidation, and for enhanced participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives in meetings of United Nations bodies on issues affecting them.  On revitalizing indigenous languages, he stressed the importance of preserving cultural expressions and oral traditions as well as ensuring the fulfilment of linguistic rights.

JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, said countries in her bloc host more than 60 native peoples that represent about 20 per cent of the total population of Central America.  Concerned about the disadvantages that indigenous peoples face across a range of social and economic indicators and the impediments to full enjoyment of their rights, she reaffirmed the urgent need to respect intrinsic rights.  She also stressed the need to enhance their adaptive capacity and resilience, reducing their vulnerability to climate change.  Further, she expressed the need to intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination and ensure indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making processes.  She encouraged States and United Nations entities to strengthen international cooperation, including to address the disadvantages faced by indigenous peoples, and to increase technical cooperation and financial assistance in this regard.

ELINA KALKKU (Finland), on behalf of the Nordic countries, noted that indigenous peoples are disproportionately represented among the poor and the extremely poor.  Their rights are often denied and their access to services are below national averages.  Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to the severe consequences of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation.  Unfortunately, indigenous peoples are targeted for claiming their rights, she said, condemning all violence, attacks and intimidation — online or offline — against indigenous human rights defenders, indigenous women human rights defenders or organizations that advocate for protection of Indigenous Peoples.  The international community must hear the voices of indigenous peoples from the Global North and Global South, from rural areas and cities, indigenous persons with disabilities as well as those belonging to LGBTIQ+ or other minorities, she said.

STAN ODUMA SMITH (Bahamas) speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), encouraged significant action to further empower indigenous peoples.  They are severely affected by the extreme environmental effects caused by climate change, which amplifies the inequalities they face.  Indigenous peoples safeguard around 80 per cent of the world’s remaining biodiversity and manage lands which capture 20 per cent of global carbon emissions, he said, emphasizing their role as crucial players in the fight against climate change.  In including the perspectives and priorities of Indigenous populations in national, regional and international decision-making, he encouraged processes that guarantee consultations between the State and indigenous peoples.  CARICOM emphasizes the importance of developing holistic programmes to support indigenous peoples and enhance capacity-building for them in the areas of entrepreneurship, technology and knowledge transfer and financial literacy, particularly among women, who face disproportionately higher rates of poverty, he said.

STEPAN Y. KUZMENKOV (Russian Federation) highlighted national policies for ensuring the sustainable development of indigenous peoples, creating conditions for their socio-economic development and preserving the original areas where they reside.  In recent years, United Nations bodies have focused on the right to land and natural resources, he noted, stressing that Russian law enshrined the right of indigenous peoples to freely use land, water, hunting and other natural resources.  He spotlighted improved mechanisms for indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making through legislative bodies, primarily at regional and local levels.  Underscoring the need to preserve linguistic diversity, he pointed to 277 languages and dialects used in the Russian Federation, with 36 official languages and 24 languages used in schools.  Calling for non-politicized dialogue without double standards in assessing the situation of indigenous peoples, he drew attention to the marginalization of indigenous peoples in Canada, particularly the restrictions on the use of drinking water in 41 Indian reservations.

SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia), aligning with the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples, said that Colombia is a pluri-ethnic and cultural State aware of the multiple and intersecting discriminations that indigenous peoples face.  Her country has established the National Commission of Indigenous Women, a technical body ensuring that an Indigenous perspective is considered in creating policies concerning them, she said.  She detailed the country’s 10-year plan on preserving native languages, expressing gratitude to the Forum on Indigenous Issues for facilitating dialogue between the Government and indigenous peoples to implement processes of truth and reconciliation.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), noting progress in protecting indigenous peoples’ rights at the international level, spotlighted the “dangers of extinction of not only indigenous languages but the recent exacerbated discrimination against, exclusion and the marginalisation of indigenous peoples, be it individually or collectively during the COVID-19 pandemic”.  He urged States to tangibly implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stressing that these groups can add value to the work of the United Nations.  Pointing to a legal gap in international law regarding the regulation of business enterprises, he underscored South Africa’s engagement in Geneva to elaborate a legally binding instrument on this issue.

ASHISH SHARMA (India) noted that the 1989 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention considered the entire population of India at the time of its independence to be indigenous, stating that the concept of “indigenous peoples” is not applicable in his country.  He said the concept of indigenous peoples should not be used to create artificial divides by including those societies where diverse ethnic groups have lived together for millennia.  He called on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other United Nations bodies to refrain from using “indigenous peoples” when referring to recognized tribes in his country.  He expressed concern about continuous misuse of the Permanent Forum by certain individuals and organizations for selfish ends, calling for scrutiny of non-governmental organizations or indigenous groups representing their issues before accrediting them for Forum meetings.

Ms. YAYI (Cameroon) said her country’s Constitution and the United Nations framework have established the Pygmies as indigenous peoples.  Outlining the country’s best practices, she added that an indigenous perspective informs the preservation of Cameroon’s protected lands, including a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and 10 forest and wildlife preserves.  Pointing to the Dja World Heritage site, she said that a population of Baka Pygmies live on the land, contributing to the cultural value to its preservation.  The Government has created a “gradual accountability mechanism” to manage efforts between village communities and forest administration.  Lamenting the effects of land degradation, which indigenous knowledge is founded upon, she hailed collaboration between nations going forward to optimize gains and progress.

FLOR KRISTEN FLORES TELLO (Panama), associating with the Central American Integration System, pointed to seven ethnic groups distributed among 12 territories that represent 13 per cent of her country’s population.  She underscored that actions to bolster indigenous governance and empower traditional authorities have a direct impact on the development of their territories.  To this end, she detailed the integral development plan for indigenous peoples, which includes strategies to mitigate the risks of climate change and ensure high-quality education based upon equality.  She also spotlighted a new law creating the first autonomous university for indigenous peoples, aimed at training leaders from indigenous communities in the country and allowing them to participate in the transformation of the daily life of their people.

ISABELLA REGINA RIVERA REYES (Honduras), aligning herself with the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples, said that various ethnic groups in her country represent over 10 per cent of its population, many of whom have their traditions intact.  Despite global challenges and being part of an indigenous group, she stressed the need to fight to preserve their culture.  Noting that her President was honored with the indigenous baton of authority, which also recognizes services provided to the community, she underscored her country’s efforts to promote the development and well-being of these groups.  She concluded by honoring Berta Cáceres, an indigenous environmental and feminist leader, brutally killed in 2016.

Yoangel Valido Martínez (Cuba) said the promise to leave no one behind cannot be kept if the rights of indigenous peoples are not protected.  First peoples worldwide face racism, economic disadvantages and forced evictions, while indigenous leaders are persecuted, he added.  Further, some Governments use the questions of their human rights to pit indigenous peoples against others.  Noting that this treatment has worsened during the COVID-19 Pandemic in developed countries, he said the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on indigenous communities in the United States is proof of discrimination.  He called on the international community to bolster political will and resolve the demands of indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, autonomy and self-governance and to use a harmonized approach in conserving protected areas inhabited by indigenous peoples.

FATEMEH ARAB BAFRANI (Iran), describing indigenous peoples as a source of inspiration for the global community, noted that they are three times more likely to be living in extreme poverty and that their life expectancy is up to 20 years lower than non-indigenous peoples worldwide.  Indigenous peoples encounter multiple challenges, including climate change, lack of equal opportunities to use their native language and disrespect for their collective rights.  Iran has never practiced slavery, colonized other nations or uprooted indigenous communities, she asserted, noting that some countries — despite presenting themselves as the only defenders of human rights — are accused of numerous violations of human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples.  In this context, she voiced concern over the systematic discrimination against indigenous peoples in the United States, Canada and colonies of the United Kingdom.

BINTI ZAHRIN (Malaysia) underscored national programmes to ensure equal access to quality education for indigenous students, complementing the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025, which aims to reduce dropout rates among indigenous peoples during the transition from primary to secondary education.  She highlighted the 12th Malaysia Plan, which aims to transform the Comprehensive Special Model School from a nine-year duration to 11 years, thus allowing indigenous students to complete the national education system and pursue tertiary education.  The Model School will focus on technical and vocational education and training, she added, pointing to Malaysia’s strategic plan to reduce poverty and provide better infrastructure and basic services to indigenous peoples.

PURUSHOTTAM DHUNGEL (Nepal) stressed that even though indigenous peoples make up less than 5 per cent of the global population, they account for about 19 per cent of the extreme poor.  Though more than 4,000 of the world’s languages are spoken by them, more than half of these languages are at the risk of becoming extinct by the year 2100.  More than a quarter of the world’s surface area belongs to indigenous peoples, who preserve 80 per cent of the world’s remaining biodiversity, he said, voicing concern that indigenous peoples are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected their lives.  To this end, Nepal guarantees that 27 per cent of Government service quotas be allocated to indigenous communities, he said, noting that the Government recognizes 59 indigenous communities, which constitute about 36 per cent of the population.

DAVID PEDROZA (Peru) said that five million indigenous persons live in his country, noting that their “intercultural citizenship” informs policy.  He stressed that the world cannot hide from its treatment of indigenous peoples, which has resulted in poverty, exclusion and disproportionate negative effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.  His Government aims to improve and implement practices regarding no-contact civilizations and include indigenous peoples in the creation of policy.  He added that indigenous peoples are not expelled from their land in Peru; any relocation is informed by free prior and informed consent with appropriate compensation.  Finally, he called for multilateral forums to establish intellectual property rights for indigenous peoples, specifically in traditional medicine and health practices.

GABRIELE CACCIA, observer for the Holy See, noted that many indigenous peoples’ rights, are too often neglected, if not outright dismissed, despite the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  “They suffer the impact of climate change and environmental degradation in a disproportionate manner and are often victims of greedy, short-sighted policies and unlawful practices that can result in the dispossession of lands, territories and resources”, he said, stressing the need for them to be involved in conservation efforts and decision-making processes.  Highlighting the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, he stressed that respect for the principle of free, prior and informed consent must be ensured if lands inhabited by indigenous peoples are to be listed as protected.  Reiterating the need to engage indigenous peoples in decision-making on themes directly involving them, he encouraged the safeguard of their cultures.

STEPHANIA MERCEDES GONZALEZ CABELLO MALDONADO (Paraguay), aligning herself with the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples, detailed actions in her country’s National Plan for indigenous peoples aimed at the full enjoyment of indigenous rights.  The Plan was established in a participatory and open manner, representing the thoughts of indigenous peoples, with the support of specialists from different institutional sectors in Paraguay, civil society and international cooperation.  The indigenous peoples in her country are recognized as groups who existed before the formation of the Paraguayan State, she said.  Her country celebrates the International Decade of Indigenous Languages with concrete actions promoted by the National Secretariat of Language Policies, she added, pointing to national investments to promote the exercise of indigenous rights.

OLIMPIA RAQUEL OCHOA ESPINALES (Nicaragua), associating with the Central American Integration System, said her Government recognizes the regional autonomous governance of the two autonomous regions of the Caribbean coast.  Highlighting the multi-ethnic and multicultural character of Nicaragua, she pointed to the universal national education policy, which ensures full training of first peoples and ethnic communities based on the principle of autonomy, interculturality, solidarity of the country’s regional and national cultures.  Reiterating her country’s commitment to sustainable development, gender equality and the rights of youth and children, she pointed to the ancestral medicine law that protects the practices of traditional ancestral medicine.

NICHOLAS HILL (United States), noting that today there are over 400 million indigenous people living in approximately 90 countries, said they need to be included in decision-making processes to achieve lasting progress and peace.  Partnering with global indigenous leaders and communities starts with acknowledging the tragic aspects of history and understanding the structural barriers that have excluded them, he said.  “We are strengthening the Nation-to-Nation dialogue between tribal and US (United States) Government entities and reinvigorating the White House Tribal Nations Summit”, he said, detailing his country’s efforts to promote justice for indigenous peoples.  He also cited the July 2022 Trilateral Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls as an example of effective law enforcement cooperation between Canada, Mexico and the United States.  Further, domestically, he pointed to the Joint Commission on reducing violent crime against American Indians and Alaska natives, the 2021 Native Languages Memorandum of Agreement to preserve such languages and investments to increase Internet access across United States indigenous communities.

MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia) stressed that global challenges in climate change, health, peace and security, trade and inclusive economic development compel the international community to look to the leadership of the world’s indigenous peoples.  However, indigenous peoples’ calls for participation in the United Nations have not been realized, he noted, urging the Organization to establish a unique category for their participation.  His Government will appoint an Ambassador for First Nations Peoples and establish an Office of First Nations Engagement that will actively include and advance the interests of First Nations Australians in international affairs, he said.

LIBNA ELUBINA BONILLA ALARCÓN (Guatemala), aligning herself with the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples said that her country is multicultural, multilingual and megadiverse, adding that managing its diverse resources is vital to indigenous communities.  To this end, the country aims to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect diversity and its ecosystems, particularly its forests.  She underlined the importance of indigenous peoples’ ancestral knowledge of biodiversity, urging the international community to pool its efforts to fully respect their rights.

IRENE GASHU (Japan) stressed the urgency to revitalize indigenous languages, which are rapidly disappearing.  She underscored her Government’s efforts to protect Ainu culture and identity and reflect their voices in Ainu-related policies, which will comprehensively protect education and develop the economy of Ainu communities.  One of the pillars of Ainu policy is the revitalization of its culture, she noted, pointing to the Ainu language educational program.  Besides these policies, Japan enacted legislation in 2019 on the comprehensive promotion of local Ainu communities, industries and cultural exchanges through tourism.  The law legally recognizes the Ainu people as indigenous peoples.

Ms. CARREL (New Zealand) stressed that the culture, language and identity of the Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa, are important elements of her country’s political and social fabric.  She noted that the group’s founding document is the Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840, which establishes a partnership between the Māori and the Crown.  The Government continues to strengthen its relationship with the Māori to ensure long-term domestic and international priorities, she added.  These aim to foster their participation, address inequality and discrimination and protect their culture and language.  Noting the contribution of indigenous peoples in safeguarding the environment from degradation, she also underscored that “the values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (generosity and care) and whanaungatanga (connectedness) were critical to the success of Indigenous-led initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic”.  Acknowledging the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that disproportionately impact the most vulnerable, she encouraged their inclusive and meaningful participation domestically and within the United Nations.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela) said his country today commemorates the Day of Indigenous Resistance, as a tribute to the first peoples in their fight against cultural imposition after cultural and territorial colonization.  Stressing the urgency to preserve over 3,000 indigenous languages worldwide, he said his country hosts 43 indigenous peoples who speak 36 languages, all officially recognized.  Their inclusion in decision-making is a priority, he added, “despite the illegal imposition of unilateral coercive measures” affecting the whole of society.  “Millennia of cultural imposition and plundering of resources and lands have left a legacy of pain and extermination”, he said.

DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Indigenous Peoples, noted that celebrating the anniversary of adopting the Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes injustices suffered by these groups.  He stressed that the Convention is a minimum standard, pointing to additional regional tools to further progress internationally.  He noted that indigenous peoples are legitimate owners of land, but are forcibly evicted from their properties, and also the group most threatened by climate change.  He added that Bolivia reaffirms its commitment to the Decade of Languages, detailing a national plan to recover and develop indigenous languages.

Ms. NURAN (Indonesia) called for the meaningful participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in climate policies through national and local initiatives.  The participation of indigenous and local communities helps enact laws that tackle the management of customary lands and forests and other natural resources as well as the protection and preservation of the environment in these areas.  Highlighting the role of women in sustaining the food system and tackling food insecurity, she pointed to initiatives that empower the role of women from coastal areas.  She also stressed the importance of preserving indigenous and local languages through a multi-stakeholder approach.

NATALIIA MUDRENKO (Ukraine), aligning with the European Union, said that her country is committed to protecting indigenous peoples, but that since 2014 the largest indigenous community in Ukraine’s Crimea, the Tartars, have been suffering under the Russian Federation’s occupation.  Further, the Russian Federation illegally conscripts Crimean Tartars into their armed forces to fight against their own country, she said, adding that over 80 per cent of draft notices affect this population.  “It is nothing but ethnic cleansing”, she said.  She decried the more than 30 unjust prison sentences handed down to Crimean political prisoners for a total of more than 1,100 years.  “There is no doubt that Russia wants to completely eliminate the Crimean Tatar ethnicity, as they are the ones who physically destroy the false Russian narrative of Crimea being a native Russian land”, she said.

KENNEDY GODFREY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania), noting that his country has no category of indigenous peoples, added that the voluntary relocation of residents of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area should not be discussed under the umbrella of rights of indigenous peoples.  His Government aims to support reallocation/resettlement, while preserving human rights, he said.  It has allocated land in Handeni district of the Tanga Region, where pastoralists in need will be willingly relocated and provided with social services such as schools, hospitals and electricity as well as adequate land for grazing.  “It is a commitment of the Government that any relocation will be voluntary, smooth and in compliance with the law of the land”, he said.  It will also ensure that environmental degradation to the Ngorongoro through conservation efforts is mitigated.  He called on the international community to support the Government’s development efforts, including the voluntary resettlement scheme of residents of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

XU DAIZHU (China), noting progress in safeguarding the rights of indigenous peoples, said that the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other challenges have worsened their situation, and colonial history continues to traumatize them.  As development is key in post-pandemic recovery, she cited her country’s 2021 proposed global development initiative to give new impetus to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  She called on countries hosting many indigenous peoples to take practical measures to ensure they have timely access to public health services and include them in post-pandemic recovery.  Stressing that “their plight is rooted in western colonial history and systematic discrimination and social injustice that persist to this day”, she called for implementation of the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People.

A representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) shared updates on initiatives to establish a systematic dialogue with indigenous peoples produced through the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.  Regional workshops leading up to global meetings between the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues ensure that global points of view are represented.  Further, IFAD supports the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples through regional and global consultations that enhance the organization’s development and accountability.  The theme for the 2023 meeting of the Permanent Forum at IFAD will be “indigenous peoples’ climate leadership:  community-based solutions to enhance resilience and biodiversity”.  Participants will share their experiences with community-based solutions to overcome the challenges of climate change, food insecurity and biodiversity conservation.

The representative of Canada, speaking in the exercise of the right of reply, said her country recognizes its historical denial of indigenous peoples’ rights through assimilationist practices.  They still face systemic racism and injustice today, she said, adding that efforts are underway to reconcile the Government’s approach to multilateral and national engagement.  Furthermore, Canada is committed to supporting survivors and all those affected by residential schools, she said.  The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which commemorates the impact of residential schools, was established as part of the reconciliation process.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in the exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement made by the representative of Ukraine about the supposed extermination of the Crimean Tartars.  He said the Crimean tartars are living and developing in the large, multinational family of the Russian Federation.  The leader of the Republic of Crimea has established a council of Tartars to address local problems and religious matters in Islam, ethnic affairs, national struggles to foster historical justice in the social and humanitarian development of the Republic.  The Republic of Crimea has constructed housing for Tartars, he said, adding that school is taught not only in Tartar languages but also in Russian and Ukrainian, the three state languages, and there are Tartar-language newspapers.  He said that Crimean Tartars practice Islam freely, noting that it was only possible to build mosques in the territory after the Russian Federation’s annexation.  Plans for construction of a new mosque have been hampered by western sanctions and the recent Ukrainian terrorist attack on the Crimea bridge, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.