Indigenous Peoples Must Have Full Representation, Participation in Decisions Affecting Their Territory, Governance, Speakers Stress at Permanent Forum
Calling attention to the myriad challenges, violations and injustices faced by their communities, speakers stressed that the rights of Indigenous Peoples cannot be realized without their full, meaningful representation and participation in decision-making processes at all levels affecting their territories, governance and families, as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues continued its twenty-second session with a day-long discussion on the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Francisco Calí, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said he could not report that threats to the human rights of Indigenous People have become less serious than when he presented to the Forum in 2022. Development of mega-projects in Indigenous territories, including conservation and green-economy projects, without the consent of Indigenous Peoples, has led to the displacement, dispossession, violence and systematic discrimination against such peoples. Noting his two official country visits to Denmark and Greenland and to Canada, he urged States in the Asia and Africa regions to accept requests for such official visits.
Binota Dhamai, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stressed that the Expert Mechanism, Permanent Forum, Special Rapporteur and the Voluntary Fund must continue to work together to strengthen the recognition of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure their right to participate in decision-making within the United Nations system and beyond. A study adopted by the Expert Mechanism during its 2022 session sets forth measures that States, Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders can take to ensure the full enjoyment by Indigenous Peoples of their right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States.
Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Chair of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, said the Fund has supported the participation of over 3,000 Indigenous representatives in relevant United Nations mechanisms over the past 38 years. Starting in 2023, the Fund will support 25 grantees to certain regional meetings. This is the first time that the Fund is supporting United Nations processes that are relevant to Indigenous issues at the regional level, thereby ensuring full participation for Indigenous Peoples in these mechanisms and processes.
As the floor opened for dialogue and general discussion, representatives of Indigenous Peoples, non-governmental organizations and Member States took the floor to alternately spotlight the injustices visited on Indigenous Peoples, detail State efforts to protect such Peoples’ rights and recommend actions that could improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples across the world.
The representative of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Bolivia said that the major private and transnational interests working in Indigenous territories are a form of legal colonialism of foreign capital. He joined others in urging the United Nations to guarantee Indigenous Peoples’ participation in issues that directly affect them, also calling for the recognition of their collective rights so they can continue to care for Mother Earth.
Similarly, the representative of the Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia noted that drug trafficking and illegal mining is causing huge damage to Indigenous territories, where Indigenous leaders and environmental activists are being killed, a point that was repeatedly emphasized by a number of speakers throughout the day. He stressed that “it is not up to the weakest links” to tackle these challenges; rather, “the highest levels” must act.
On that point, Vital Bambanze, Permanent Forum member from Burundi, encouraged Member States to participate in the Forum, spotlighting “all the recommendations piling up in the United Nations” that are not being implemented. States cannot wait for Indigenous or disabled individuals to reach out for help; rather, they have a duty to encourage Indigenous Peoples.
The representative of Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka, also speaking on States’ responsibility, pointed out that, while progress has been made in recognizing Indigenous rights, the challenge lies in implementing these advances. He noted that Governments often prefer to promote Indigenous culture rather than Indigenous rights, warning against “backsliding” amidst the looting of ancestral territory, environmental predation and the dismantling of traditional structures.
Like many speakers today, the representative of the Inuit Circumpolar Council offered an example of that backsliding, expressing concern over the disproportionally high number of Inuit children that are removed from their parents and placed in families with no cultural or linguistic ties to the Inuit. She called on the United Nations to press for such children’s right to remain in their homeland, also spotlighting the consequences of increased militarization across Inuit Nunangat.
Representatives of Member States also took the floor today, with many spotlighting national efforts to protect and support the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
One such speaker was South Africa’s delegate, who pointed out that his Government has worked continuously since 1994 to restore the dignity of previously marginalized peoples through a process of recognition, redress and restoration of what was stolen and exploited by the Apartheid government. Detailing such efforts, he spotlighted bioprospecting and biotrade agreements concluded with the Khoisan community to ensure that they are able to progressively develop and grow as Peoples.
Closing the meeting, Mr. Calí urged Member States to commit not only to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, but also to support them — as they did in 2007 with the approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. States must protect these rights, he stressed, emphasizing that the Indigenous Peoples of the world are not stakeholders, but rightsholders who enjoy collective rights like self-determination in relation to their lands and resources.
The Permanent Forum will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 20 April, to continue its work.
The Permanent Forum held a panel discussion on the item “Human rights dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, with presentations by Francisco Calí, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Binota Dhamai, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Chair of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples.
Mr. CALÍ said he could not report that threats to the human rights of Indigenous People have become less serious than when he presented to the Forum in 2022. He said that the biggest challenge is the development of mega-projects in Indigenous territories, including conservation and green-economy projects, without the consent of Indigenous Peoples. This leads to displacement, dispossession, violence and systematic discrimination against such people. Updating the Forum on his work since his last address, he noted that he carried out two official country visits to Denmark and Greenland in February and to Canada in March, along with six academic visits. He also urged States in the Asia and Africa regions to accept requests for such official visits, additionally detailing his collaboration with United Nations specialized entities, international organizations and regional human-rights bodies.
He went on to say that he will focus his annual report to the General Assembly on tourism as it relates to the rights of Indigenous Peoples, reviewing the ways in which tourism both negatively and positively impacts such Peoples by examining the role of States, international organizations and the private sector in developing tourism facilities. Meanwhile, he pointed out that his annual report to the Human Rights Council will focus on green financing and a just transition to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It will cover the potential impact to such rights by international climate-finance mechanisms, carbon credit markets, international conservation organizations, international financial institutions and United Nations agencies financing green energy, sustainable development projects and biodiversity targets. Expressing hope that this session of the Permanent Forum will identify constructive ways forward to ensure Indigenous Peoples’ rights, he looked forward to discussions from the floor.
Mr. DHAMAI said that, during its 2022 fifteenth session in Geneva via a hybrid format, the Expert Mechanism finalized and adopted a Study and Advice on treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, between Indigenous Peoples and States, as well as the Expert Mechanism’s annual report to the Human Rights Council. Its study identified the principles and conditions, as well as the gaps and challenges, in the realization and exercise of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to conclude treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States. The study’s Advice No. 15, set forth measures that States, Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders can take to ensure the full enjoyment of article 37 in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It also held an interactive dialogue with the Human Rights Council at its fifty-first session on the annual report.
Unfortunately, the Expert Mechanism could not undertake country-engagement missions in 2022 due to the slowdown in travel because of the pandemic, he reported. However, it has continued dialogues with several stakeholders to prepare for country visits in the coming months, including with Australia, Norway and Canada, with a visit to Australia scheduled for September. The Expert Mechanism’s agenda for its upcoming sixteenth session in Geneva will include two panel discussions on the impact of the legacies of colonialism on the rights of LGBTQIA+ Indigenous Peoples, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities. The Expert Mechanism, Permanent Forum, Special Rapporteur and the Voluntary Fund must continue to work together collaboratively to strengthen the recognition of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure their right to participate in decision-making within the United Nations system and beyond, he stressed.
Mr. SUNUWAR, providing an update on the work of the Voluntary Fund, said that the Fund has supported the participation of over 3,000 Indigenous representatives in relevant United Nations mechanisms over the past 38 years. In 2022 alone, the Fund supported 145 Indigenous representatives from more than 50 countries in 13 different United Nations meetings and processes — almost triple the number of grantees than in previous years. In 2023, the Fund will support a total of 162 Indigenous representatives to United Nations meetings in New York, Geneva, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. Starting in 2023, the Fund will support 25 grantees to certain regional meetings, including those of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platforms of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is the first time that the Fund is supporting United Nations processes that are relevant to Indigenous issues at the regional level, thereby ensuring full participation for Indigenous Peoples in these mechanisms and processes.
In addition to providing such grants, the Fund allocates resources to build Indigenous Peoples’ capacity so they can effectively participate in United Nations meetings, he continued. To that end, the Fund launched, with partners, a year‑long “Training Calendar” that regularly organizes thematic and mechanism-specific trainings online. In 2022 alone, 600 Indigenous representatives participated in the Fund’s online preparatory trainings, which were offered in English, French, Russian and Spanish. Emphasizing that the Fund is contributing to increased international awareness and action regarding the rights, status and conditions of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, he said: “We are increasingly seeing the results and impact of effective engagement of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives” in the work of relevant United Nations bodies. This has resulted in specific action and recommendations for the promotion, respect, protection and fulfilment of such Peoples’ rights.
The floor then opened for the interactive dialogue.
The representative of Finland, also speaking for Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said that Indigenous women’s in-depth understanding of nature and natural resources can significantly contribute to mitigating against the catastrophic impacts of climate change. It remains a joint priority of all Nordic countries to ensure that indigenous women and girls, in all their diversity, can fully enjoy their human rights, and contribute to the well-being of their communities, society at large and the planet, she underscored. Success in finding sustainable solutions to climate change, biodiversity loss or attacks on human rights and democracy will not be achieved without the knowledge and know-how of Indigenous Peoples of their culture, traditions, lands and territories.
The representative of a delegation of organizations, including, among others, Centro Nacional de Metrología, National Indigenous Women Forum of Nepal, Tohono O'odham Nation, Young Women Initiative of the Philippines and Zenab for Women in Development of Sudan, demanded that Member States ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), if they have not done so, and implement General Recommendation No. 39 on the rights of Indigenous women and girls. Member States must respect and acknowledge the collective identities and rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially women and girls and those with disabilities. They must formally recognize Indigenous Peoples as transmitters of traditional knowledge and custodians of biodiversity and climate action, and immediately stop reprisals against Indigenous activists.
The representative of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Bolivia, highlighted the major private and transnational interests working in their territories, calling it a legal colonialism of foreign capital. Before colonialists had invaded their land, their peoples had their own legal system and forms of organization based on a profound respect for nature, which is still being maintained. The United Nations must guarantee their participation, not only in issues that directly affect Indigenous Peoples, but also in the recognition of their collective rights so that they can continue to care for Mother Earth. He asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on the three priority topics identified in his latest trips that are important to Indigenous Peoples.
The representative of the Torres Strait Regional Authority said it is driven by the vision to empower its people, including in its work to support and improve human health, address climate change and manage their lands and seas for future generations. The Torres Strait islanders, alongside the Aboriginal people, are recognized as First Nations Indigenous Peoples of Australia, she said, noting that their continued stewardship has kept the Torres Strait one of the richest and most intact cultural and ecological regions on Earth. The Torres Strait is at the forefront of climate impact, she said, noting that its peoples are working in partnership with the Government of Australia to achieve climate adaptation outcomes.
The representative of the Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia said drug trafficking and illegal mining are causing huge damage to their territories where leaders and environmental activists are also being killed. Underscoring the need to tackle these challenges, he said: “It is not up to the weakest links to achieve this, but to the highest levels.” Something is not working in the Colombian State, which has been obstructing prior, free and informed consent. He asked the panellists to provide their recommendations for the Colombian State, stressing that all efforts must be coordinated with the Indigenous Peoples who should be fully incorporated in the national development plan.
The representative of the Suoma Sami Nuorat said the Human Rights Committee has specifically demanded Finland to rectify an ongoing trampling of Sami democratic processes. However, two months ago, the Finnish Government failed to pass the Sami Parliament Act, which would have secured the right to self-representation. With this failure, Finland has revealed that it is the only State knowingly acting against the explicit recommendation by the Human Rights Committee. Pointing to the crackdown of Sami democratic processes in Finland, she stressed that the Sami people are waiting to see how the State will meddle with the Sami’s upcoming September elections. Voicing hope that the Special Rapporteur will closely monitor the situation, she pointed out that Finland has created a situation that her generation and younger will be forced to clean up for years to come.
The representative of the Grand Council of the Crees and Cree Government, reporting that Alberta had the highest number of Indian residential schools in Canada, recalled Pope Francis’ visit and personal apology to former students and survivors of such schools, saying that he learned from testimony that “a genocide was committed in Alberta”. The recent repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery” offers the opportunity not only to forgive, but to heal, he noted, and “to advance reconciliation together”. Adding, however, that recent legislation in Alberta signalled that more must be done, he urged the Special Rapporteur to establish an “Alberta Council on Reconciliation”.
The representative of the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation said that, on 8 March, Vietnamese authorities summoned more than 10 Indigenous individuals for interrogation following their participation in an event marking International Women’s Day. Some were detained for more than 24 hours and forced to sign false confession letters. Underscoring that this is deeply concerning, especially because Viet Nam is part of the Human Rights Council, she urged the Forum to ask Viet Nam to respect the human rights of the Khmer Krom, and for it to ensure such People’s rights are respected and protected.
The representative of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, underscoring that the Russian Federation has been trying to destroy the Crimean Tatar Nation for centuries, reported that over 1,000 Crimean Tatars have been subjected to political persecution since the beginning of the occupation in 2014. In 2022, Crimea became a springboard for the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion, and hundreds of Crimean Tatars were forced to leave the peninsula to avoid conscription into the Russian armed forces. Underscoring that Indigenous Peoples cannot enjoy their rights when a permanent member of the Security Council is waging the most brutal war of the twenty-first century with impunity, she stressed that “only sanctions and pressure on the Russian Federation will save our lives”.
VITAL BAMBANZE, Permanent Forum member from Burundi, encouraging States to participate in the Forum, spotlighted “all the recommendations piling up in the United Nations” that are not being applied — and have not been applied since the Forum was established. He therefore urged technical and financial partners to support capacity-building, also calling on States to understand that they must respect all people living in their territory. States cannot wait for Indigenous or disabled individuals to reach out for help; rather, States have a duty to encourage Indigenous Peoples and not persecute them. On that point, he declared: “You can’t go to church and then, after that, persecute people.”
The representative of the Endorois Indigenous Women Empowerment Network, underlined the urgent need to understand the health impacts of climate change among marginalized communities in the Global South. Increased flooding around Lake Bogoria has disrupted the lives of the Endorois — a traditionally pastoral Indigenous People. The Endorois have faced evictions from ancestral lands, subsequent displacement across the region and now flooding that is destroying their homes, sacred sites, roads and health centres — causing high livestock mortality due to disease. Such impacts are particularly felt by women and those with disabilities because of structural barriers to their capacity to adapt to these changes. She asked for support for her organization to address these challenges.
The representative of the Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka highlighted Indigenous Peoples’ — including his own, the Miskito — tireless fight over decades. While progress has been made in recognizing such Peoples’ rights in legal systems at the national level and in instruments at the international level, the challenge is actually implementing these advances. This is particularly true at the national level due to Governments’ lack of political will in this area. Pointing out that Governments prefer to promote Indigenous culture — such as folklore, gastronomy and artisanship — rather than Indigenous rights, he warned against “backsliding” amidst the looting of ancestral territory, environmental predation and the dismantling of traditional structures.
Responding, Mr. CALÍ thanked those present for supporting the report, also stating that he took note of the suggestions and contributions made during the discussion and hopes to reflect them in that text. He expressed regret, however, over low participation by Member States, urging all of them to commit themselves not only to respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, but also to supporting them as they did in 2007 with the approval of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also expressed regret that certain Indigenous leaders were unable to participate in the Forum due to their arbitrary detention by certain States.
Mr. DHAMAI emphasized that the Expert Mechanism’s particular mandate is country engagement, with increasing relevance in the future for Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and Member States. It is there to identify the best way to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the national level, through developing laws, policies and regulatory frameworks. He invited the Forum attendees to participate in the Expert Mechanism’s official station in Geneva.
Mr. SUNUWAR said the Voluntary Fund, since its establishment in 1985, has been offering financial support to help Indigenous Peoples’ participation and representation in United Nations mechanisms and meetings. It has been instrumental in ensuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples and that their voices are heard within the United Nations. In addition, the Voluntary Fund provides training and capacity-building, he said, noting that it has planned a series of modular courses this year for grantees.
The Permanent Forum then continued its consideration of the topic “Human rights dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” in a general discussion.
The representative of the United Nations LGBTI Core Group, underscored that State measures to improve conditions for Indigenous Peoples pursuant to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must consider, respect and protect diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics. Detailing Indigenous Peoples’ particular vulnerability to the direct consequences of climate change, he underscored the importance of collecting disaggregated data, in accordance with relevant national contexts and characteristics. He also noted the Special Rapporteur’s efforts to defend and promote the rights of Indigenous Peoples experiencing multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination, particularly his work to combat gender-based violence.
The representative of the Inuit Circumpolar Council expressed concern over the disproportionally high number of Inuit children that are removed from their parents and placed in families that have no cultural or linguistic ties to the Inuit. The United Nations should press for such children’s right to remain in their homeland. She also welcomed work to implement the principles of free, prior and informed consent and on self-determination in this context, spotlighting, for example, the consequences of increased militarization across Inuit Nunangat. Her people gift knowledge through the spoken word, and she has done so today to ask for help bringing to light the human rights violations the Inuit are experiencing within their homeland, she said.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said Indigenous women play a crucial role in preserving ecosystems, but, at the same time, are disproportionately impacted by climate change, drought and desertification. Indigenous human rights defenders play a key role in addressing growing environmental degradation, but are experiencing increasing threats, harassment, reprisals and murder, as well as land invasions, arbitrary forced evictions and other abusive practices. The world must do better in protecting Indigenous Peoples. He asked the Special Rapporteur how the international community can ensure that Indigenous Peoples are fully recognized as stakeholders in conservation efforts and what more can be done to prevent attacks on them, not least in business contexts.
The representative of the Indigenous Peoples of African Continent Committee, also speaking for the Community Leaders Network of Southern Africa, spotlighted a grave misinterpretation of the Indigenous Peoples’ rights issue in the region, namely that some Member States in the region are promoting the interests of one Indigenous People’s group above another, creating privileges and exclusion. He also called on Western Europe’s animal rights groups to join hands with regional Governments to combat poaching crime syndicates and other crime networks, and ensure adherence to free, prior and informed consultation within their wildlife economy. The Forum and all policymakers must to stand against legislation that disrespects the rights of his people and support sustainable and cost-effective wildlife conservation.
The representative of Ecuador said that Indigenous Peoples still face enormous challenges in her country, a State whose Constitution recognizes plurinationality and multiculturality. To address this, the Government has prioritized promoting and strengthening such Peoples participation, which includes the creation of a commission tasked with generating disaggregated data to guide public policy and regularly assess the situation of historically relegated Peoples. Also detailing national efforts to promote Ecuador’s many languages, she spotlighted another commission — this one tasked with revitalizing the languages and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples.
RODRIGO EDUARDO PAILLALEF MONNARD, Permanent Forum member from Chile, asked certain interpreters to use “Indigenous Peoples” and not “Indigenous Populations”, as the former is the correct appellation.
The representative of Organisasi Pribunmi Papua Barat underscored that the agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands concerning West Papua — established by General Assembly resolution 1752 — “has made a giant disaster of our life”. He asked the Assembly to put that resolution on the Trusteeship Council’s agenda, as Indonesia has sent thousands of troops to fight the West Papua National Liberation Army, and Indigenous People are dying as a result. He urged the Special Rapporteur to look into what is happening in West Papua and called on the General Assembly to revoke its resolution 2504 that established a related “fake referendum”.
The representative of Colombia said that her country recently hosted the Forum’s Preparatory Committee where delegates discussed the challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples, especially regarding care for the planet. Indigenous Peoples have taught the international community what it means to oppose a model of oppression or accumulation, she said, recalling the many years of war, poverty and inequality in her country. President Gustavo Petro of Colombia was able to express those challenges very clearly with regard to peace and a new economic model. Spaces like the Permanent Forum are important in helping rebuild the planet and in building peace.
The representative of the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname, said the collective struggle of Indigenous Peoples has made some of them victims, recalling those who have been assassinated, namely Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira. Organized crime has acted on many fronts, while trade policies and exploitation of natural resources have strengthened States. “The Inter-American Commission [on Human Rights] already issued a measure against Brazil, and even so, we are still marked for death, including myself and 11 other brothers who fight,” he stressed. He urged the Forum to recommend to Brazil that it guarantee the effective protection of Indigenous territories and to recommend to the Inter-American Commission to strengthen guarantees granted in [precautionary] measure 449-22 in their favour.
The representative of South Africa noted that his country’s history is well-known in the corridors of the United Nations because the Organization and the international community played a key role in the struggle against Apartheid. Since the dawn of democracy in 1994, the Government has been working continuously to restore the dignity of previously marginalized peoples through a process of recognition, redress and restoration of what was stolen and exploited by the Apartheid government. Detailing some of those efforts, he spotlighted bioprospecting and biotrade agreements concluded with the Khoisan community to ensure that they are able to progressively develop and grow as Peoples.
The representative of the Native Council of Prince Edward Island expressed concern over ongoing violations of Indigenous rights in Canada. Two years ago, Canada adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without reservation. However, it included its own preamble that defines the peoples to whom the Declaration applies. This undermines that instrument and is “nothing more than neo-colonialism masquerading as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation”, he stressed. Noting that it has been two years since his community submitted a formal complaint against Canada to the Human Rights Council concerning the treatment of Indigenous children, he called on the international community to condemn Canada for its continued genocidal and exclusionary practices towards his community.
The representative of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, noting its distinction-based approach to Indigenous policymaking, said Canada has chosen only to engage in consultation and negotiation with the three recognized groups, none of whom represent the interests or voices of off-reserve Indigenous Peoples. Moreover, it has failed to engage with or meet the needs of rural or urban Indigenous Peoples, who make up the majority of Indigenous Peoples in the country. Canadian policies mainly focus on on-reserve communities to the exclusion of vast numbers of off-reserve people. Recently Canada introduced Bill C-29, a reconciliation bill which has left out 85 per cent of off-reserve people, he pointed out, calling it the “illusion of inclusion” bill.
The representative of New Zealand spotlighted the Government’s ongoing development of a plan to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since the pandemic and more recently, his country has seen the benefit of indigenous led nationally supported solutions. The Government will continue to support its Indigenous communities as they respond to the devastating consequences of recent weather events and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. However, that support should not be limited to times of emergencies or crises. New Zealand’s many diverse communities must have a good understanding of Indigenous rights, he stressed, noting that his country throughout the year will focus on developing greater public understanding and support for the Declaration.
The representative of Indigenous Peoples Rights International spotlighted continuing cases of criminalization and violence against Indigenous Peoples in all regions of the world linked to conservation. Their right to self-determination regarding their lands and resources is being ignored. She urged the Forum to monitor the implementation of relevant recommendations contained in the Special Rapporteur’s report. Also noting that the Rapporteur called for information regarding tourism’s impact on Indigenous rights, she pointed out that tourism is often linked to the creation of “conservation areas” or “cultural heritage sites” in Indigenous Peoples’ territory. She expressed hope that the Forum will consider the forced displacement resulting from this, along with the commercialization of Indigenous arts, culture and spirituality.
The representative of Indonesia said that her country is committed to promoting the rights of women, which are protected by the Constitution and further advanced through national and local policies. She expressed regret, however, that these positive efforts have been hindered by groups in some parts of Papua that spread falsehoods and instigate violence, while claiming to represent Indigenous communities to which they have no attachment. Underscoring that “Papua was, is and will always be an integral part of Indonesia” — which has been confirmed by the General Assembly and the international community through General Assembly resolution 2504 — she expressed regret that the Forum is being used to advance a separatist agenda.
The representative of Viet Nam said the Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation, a foreign-based based organization, has abused the Forum’s platform to falsely malign his country. That organization does not represent the ethnic Khmer people in Viet Nam and its participation in the Forum should be categorically rejected. It has used the platform for its own politically motivated agenda and its aim is to sow seeds of division among Vietnamese ethnic groups. Viet Nam is a country of 54 ethnic groups, which enjoy a long history of living together in peace and harmony, he emphasized, adding that the promotion and protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, including the Khmer people, are among the Government’s top priorities.
HANIEH MOGHANI, Permanent Forum member from Iran, said that she comes from West Asia, a place the colonialist world called the Middle East. That region’s Indigenous Peoples have for years shouldered unilateral coercive measures, she said, noting the Special Rapporteur’s report on the negative impact of such measures on Indigenous communities. Pointing to other obstacles which prevent Indigenous Peoples’ meaningful participation, she said many people of her region are rarely represented at these meetings. It is the responsibility of Governments and international organizations to facilitate Indigenous representatives’ participation in the Forum. The practice of restricting attendance due to non-issuance of visa and processing delays should not be normalized, she added.
Mr. DHAMAI said the Expert Mechanism’s study aims to promote demilitarization efforts and the continued exercise by Indigenous Peoples of their right to live in freedom, peace and security. The Expert Mechanism will devote an item in this regard at its upcoming session and the draft study will be shared with States in the Organization’s six official languages for their comment, he added, emphasizing that the study is in line with its mandate. Governments and State representatives should see Indigenous Peoples not as enemies, but as a good friend with whom they can have a faithful relationship and meaningful and effective engagement in decision-making processes.
Mr. CALÍ, in closing, agreed with calls to collect disaggregated data regarding Indigenous Peoples’ access to land, health and education. He also underscored that such peoples are not stakeholders, but rightsholders who enjoy collective rights like self-determination in relation to their lands and resources. States must protect these rights, even if those who would violate them are third parties, such as businesses. He called on States to, among other measures, ensure that Indigenous Peoples are fully recognized as rightsholders in conservation efforts; allocate funding for Indigenous-led conservation, adopt a rights-based approach when assessing conservation measures, include Indigenous knowledge and rights in conservation education, and support Indigenous participation in international conservation processes.
Also speaking today were representatives from the following organizations: the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans; Assembly of First Nations; Consejo Shipibo Konibo Yetebo; Human Rights Commission of New Zealand; International Indian Treaty Council; Manaaki Matakaoa; International Indigenous Forum of World Heritage; Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales; Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti Bangladesh; Shoshone Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley; Indigenous Network on Economics and Trade; Chagossian Voices; NSW Aboriginal Land Council; Organizacion Nacional de Mujeres Indigenas; Native Council of Nova Scotia; Association Tin-Hinan, Sahel; UNIVADA; Confederacion de Nacionalidades Indigenas del Ecuador; Ontario Native Women’s Association; Sami Parliament of Finland; International Working Group for Indigenous; Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and Caucus Affairs; Fundación Egdolina Thomas, para la Defensa de los Derechos de los Habitantes de la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua; Stichting Mulokot; Global Indigenous Youth Caucus; Saami Council, Chagossian Voices, Inisiasi Masyarakat Adat, Centro Cultural Techantit, Indian Law Resource Center, Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indigenas de las Americas, Indigenous Peoples Organization-Australia Parliamentarians; and la Coordinadora Nacional de Defensa de los Territorios Indígenas Originarios Campesinos y Áreas Protegidas de Bolivia-VIVAT International.
Forum members speaking today included Suleiman Mamutov from Ukraine, Tove Søvndahl Gant from Denmark, Keith Harper from the United States, Vital Bambanze from Burandi and Geoffrey Roth from the United States.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Brazil, Chile Philippines, Mexico, China, Guyana, Canada, Russian Federation, Guatemala Ukraine, United States, Panama, Spain, Denmark, Peru, Bangladesh, Iran and Burundi.
The representative of the Fund for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean spoke, as did the International Labour Organization (ILO).
* The 3rd & 4th Meetings were not covered.