2014 Human Rights Day: Reminding Governments of Their Commitments To The World’s Indigenous Peoples

“I call on States to honour their obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. I call on people to hold their governments to account. ” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The full enjoyment of all human rights is at heart of indigenous peoples struggles. As we commemorate the 2014 Human Rights Day, we would like to remind governments of the commitments they made to indigenous peoples in the Outcome Document of the recently concluded World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

In this document, governments have reaffirmed their support for the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [UNDRIP] and their commitment “to consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them, in accordance with the applicable principles of the Declaration.”

We wish to reiterate key elements of the WCIP Outcome Document and appeal to states to take immediate action towards the respect and fulfillment of their human rights obligations to indigenous peoples:

  1. Respect, promote and advance and in no way diminish the rights of indigenous peoples and uphold the principles of the UNDRIP;
  2. Take, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, appropriate measures at the national level, including legislative, policy and administrative measures, to achieve the ends of UNDRIP. These include measures to
    • Ensure that indigenous individuals have equal access to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
    • Ensure equal access to, among other concerns, housing, water, sanitation and other economic and social programmes to improve well-being, including through initiatives, policies and the provision of resources
    • Ensure that national legislative, policy and institutional structures relating to indigenous peoples are inclusive of indigenous persons with disabilities and contribute to the advancement of their rights
    • Support measures that will ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous women in decision-making processes at all levels and in all areas and eliminate barriers to their participation in political, economic, social and cultural life
    • Prevent abuses of the rights of indigenous peoples by transnational corporations and other business enterprises
    • Develop, in conjunction with the indigenous peoples concerned, and where appropriate, policies, programmes and resources to support indigenous peoples’ occupations, traditional subsistence activities, economies, livelihoods, food security and nutrition
    • Intensify efforts, in cooperation with indigenous peoples, to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against indigenous peoples and individuals, in particular, women, children, youth, older persons and persons with disabilities, by strengthening legal, policy and institutional frameworks;
  3. Cooperate with indigenous peoples, through their own representative institutions, to develop and implement national action plans, strategies or other measures, to achieve the ends of the Declaration;
  4. Promote awareness of UNDRIP among all sectors of society, including members of legislatures, the judiciary and the civil service;
  5. Work with indigenous peoples to disaggregate data, as appropriate, or conduct surveys and to utilize holistic indicators of indigenous peoples’ well-being to address the situation and needs of indigenous peoples and individuals, in particular older persons, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities;
  6. Give due consideration to all the rights of indigenous peoples in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda noting that indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop their priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development.

The immediate implementation of the human rights commitments of states is very urgent in this juncture as land grabbing in intensifying, including the criminalization of indigenous practices of their traditional occupations in several countries. Likewise, more and more indigenous human rights defenders continue to face political repression and unjust prosecution. Indigenous women remains disproportionately marginalized and subjected to all forms of violence and do not have access to effective forms of redress. Thus, concrete actions of states at the national and local levels on the human rights obligations are necessary in changing the worsening condition of indigenous peoples who are in fact invaluable actors to sustainable resource management and development for all.

As states are expected to adopt a Post-2015 Development Agenda and agreement on Climate change solutions next year, it is critical that a human rights framework be fully integrated in these international agreements.

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact renews its commitment and shall intensify its work for the respect, promotion and protection of human rights and calls on all stakeholders to make their contributions for the realization of human rights, peace and dignity for all.

Download full statement here

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