We Ignore Indigenous Peoples At Our Peril Says Deputy Secretary 2009: Hr4980 Permanent

We ignore indigenous peoples at our peril says Deputy Secretary

HR/4980 Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Eighth Session 1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM) The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this morning opened
its eighth annual session aimed at finding ways to further implement the landmark 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which gained momentum last month when the Australian Government officially endorsed the accord after previously voting against it. The Forum’s two-week session, in which some 2,000 representatives of indigenous groups, as well as representatives of Government, civil society, academia, the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations were expected to participate, would also look at the relationship between indigenous peoples and industrial corporations, the need to promote corporation social responsibility, climate change, the Arctic region and land tenure. In an opening address, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said the Forum was meeting at a crucial time, as the world grappled with a “swarm of crises”, including intensified hunger, poverty, global warming and security threats. Indigenous peoples had a record of resilience in the face of great adversity, but they still suffered from prejudice and marginalization. Indigenous women were brutalized by violence. Powerful forces continued to take land from indigenous peoples, denigrate their cultures and directly attack their lives. Such acts violated every principle enshrined in the Declaration and offended the conscience of humanity. The Forum had resulted from a decades-long effort to put indigenous peoples’ concerns on the global agenda, she said. A Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people was making heard the voices of indigenous survivors of human rights violations and was working with Governments to improve indigenous people’s lives. United Nations agencies and other intergovernmental organizations had adopted policies on indigenous issues and were doing more to improve action on the ground. At the same time, indigenous peoples had greatly impacted the United Nations work, contributing to the Forum on Forests and the Commission on Sustainable Development. Still, delegates must do more than just raise indigenous peoples’ living standards. They must also heed their warning and seek their counsel in such shared objectives as sustainable development, which had been a priority for the indigenous world long before it became an international buzz word. Too often that wisdom and traditional knowledge was overlooked or stolen, and that must change. “We ignore indigenous peoples at our peril. But if we listen to them, society as a whole will benefit,” she said. That meant bringing their contributions to the table in international negotiations, notably those leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.
Governments, United Nations agencies, international institutions and the private sector must also change their approach by increasingly mainstreaming indigenous peoples’ issues into their work, respecting indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent, and increasing their participation in programme and policy design, implementation and monitoring, she said. Too often there was a lack of awareness and understanding that current formulas could not be applied to indigenous peoples, who had a right to pursue their own economic, social and cultural development, in accordance with local cultures, identities, traditional knowledge and livelihoods.