Human Rights Council Holds Panel Discussion on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Begins Interactive Dialogue with Expert Mechanism

OHCHR

The Human Rights Council this morning held its annual half-day panel discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, addressing the impact of social and economic recovery plans in the COVID-19 context on indigenous peoples, with a special focus on food security. It then started an interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

At the beginning of the meeting, Sahil Babayev, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of Azerbaijan, addressed the Council, outlining national efforts taken to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in Azerbaijan. He said the law on the rights of persons with disabilities had been adopted in May 2018. It covered the provisions of all the rights and freedoms stipulated by the Convention, including the basic principles of State policy and guarantees on the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, their employment, and social protection. The Government had approved about 20 legislative acts, covering a range of rights for persons with disabilities and supporting their integration into society, including an adaptation of infrastructure and implementation of their individual rehabilitation programmes.

Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, was the key-note speaker in the panel on the rights of indigenous peoples. She said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, numerous reports had attested that the gains of many indigenous peoples around the globe had been reversed. Indigenous peoples were key partners in the process of achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and their meaningful participation, including of indigenous women, needed to be an overarching principle.

The panellists were José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples; Myrna Cunningham, First Vice-President of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; Binota Moy Dhamai, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and Yon Fernández De Larrinoa, Head of the Indigenous Peoples Unit in the Partnerships and United Nations Collaboration Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said today there was a need to assess and promote the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of COVID-19 recovery plans as it related to food security. The protection of indigenous territories was vital to recovery, as it promoted sustainable livelihoods, increasing resilience in the face of future pandemics.

Myrna Cunningham, First Vice-President of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America, and the Caribbean, said that the voice of indigenous peoples was fundamental because indigenous peoples had the key to a transformative recovery based on their knowledge, and their collective consciousness and worldview. The regional indigenous platform had managed to document and disseminate hundreds of actions of indigenous peoples who had fought against COVID-19.

Binota Moy Dhamai, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, numerous reports had attested to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples, globally exposing the pre-existing structural inequalities. The Expert Mechanism had recognised that indigenous peoples had been hit the hardest by its socio-economic consequences and inadequate access to health care and other key services.

Yon Fernández De Larrinoa, Head of the Indigenous Peoples Unit in the Partnerships and United Nations Collaboration Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that the food and knowledge systems of indigenous peoples needed to be protected in order to protect the remaining biodiversity, with specific relevance given to indigenous women.

In the ensuing discussion, some speakers said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the entrenched problems suffered by indigenous peoples and posed grave challenges to their health and food security. The disproportionate impact that the pandemic had on indigenous peoples was recognised, with speakers stating that the involvement of indigenous peoples in the recovery plans was paramount.

Many speakers said indigenous peoples possessed valuable solutions for tackling global food insecurity through their close relationship with the land and natural resources, traditional knowledge, and way of life. Some speakers said that indigenous women played a key role for health and food security within communities.

After the panel discussion, the Council started an interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Binota Moy Dhamai, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said the COVID-19 pandemic had disproportionality affected indigenous peoples, deepening pre-existing social inequalities. Indigenous peoples were increasingly recognised as agents of change and solution holders in matters ranging from climate change to desertification, land degradation and drought. Indigenous women were active change agents in society and were champions of sustainability.

Diel Mochire Mwenge, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, updating the Council on the work and activities of the Voluntary Trust Fund, said with the mandate which had been expanded and renewed over the last 37 years, the Trust Fund had been able to support the participation of more than 3,000 indigenous representatives, including women, men, young people, older persons, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons, and indigenous persons with disabilities, in the work of the Expert Mechanism and the Human Rights Council.

In the ensuing discussion, some speakers said that indigenous human rights defenders should be ensured a safe working environment, without threats or intimidation of any kind, and their situation should be addressed. States should guarantee them this without any discrimination. The dialogue between indigenous peoples and other stakeholders should be prioritised, and it should ideally have a non-confrontational approach. All States should take appropriate measures to ensure the presence of indigenous women in decision-making processes. To remedy historic inequalities, it was vital to create a new relationship, based on trust and mutual respect, inter-cultural dialogue, and recognition of traditional forms of government, drawing on multilateralism to create a positive environment for the development and growth of this dialogue.

Speaking in the panel discussion were Guyana, Mexico on behalf of a group of countries, Sweden on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic States, European Union, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Russian Federation, Peru, Iran, Colombia, UN Women, Bolivia, Namibia, Cambodia, United States, Spain, United Nations Population Fund, Malaysia, Nepal, South Africa, and China.

Also speaking were Franciscans International, Conselho Indigenista Missionario CIMI, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Organization for the Right to Education and Freedom of Education, and Africa Culture Internationale.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were Finland on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, European Union, New Zealand, Guatemala on behalf of a group of countries, Ecuador, Colombia, Australia, Mexico, Panama, Brazil, Venezuela, and South Africa.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-first regular session can be found here.

The Council will resume its work at 3 p.m. this afternoon to conclude its interactive dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, start an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, then hold a panel discussion on the negative impact of the legacies of colonialism on the enjoyment of human rights.

Statement by the Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of Azerbaijan

SAHIL BABAYEV, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of Azerbaijan, said the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities envisaged certain commitments related to non-discrimination of persons with disabilities, respect for their physical and mental integrity on an equal basis, as well as the improvement of legislation. In this regard, Azerbaijan had adopted the law on the rights of persons with disabilities in May 2018. The law covered the provision of all the rights and freedoms stipulated by the Convention, including the basic principles of State policy and guarantees on rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, their employment, and social protection. The Government had approved about 20 legislative acts, covering a range of rights for persons with disabilities and supporting their integration into society, including an adaptation of infrastructure and implementation of their individual rehabilitation programmes.

At the same time, within the framework of cooperation with the European Union, a new project was being implemented with the aim of the social integration of persons with disabilities, transition from a medical rehabilitation model to a social rehabilitation model, improving the quality of services and creating a new system based on best international practices. The DOST Centre for Inclusive Development and Creativity, created in 2021, aimed to develop the skills and creativity of children with disabilities and talented adults. The Republic of Azerbaijan was working actively to create a fully accessible physical environment for persons with disabilities and strove to ensure their full inclusion in society, education, and employment. Social and legal strategies to promote inclusion for people with disabilities and reduce inequalities were developed and modernised based on international practices.

Panel Discussion on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Addressing the Impact of Social and Economic Recovery Plans in the COVID-19 Context on Indigenous Peoples, with a Special Focus on Food Security

Keynote Statement

ILZE BRANDS KEHRIS, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, numerous reports had attested that the gains of many indigenous peoples around the globe had been reversed. Pre-existing inequalities had jeopardised progress in achieving the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, two of which referred directly to indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples were key partners in this process and their meaningful participation, including of indigenous women, needed to be an overarching principle. Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, interpreted in the context of their cultures and traditions, guided a more sustainable way of interacting with the planet, including how food was produced and consumed. Indigenous peoples relied on the natural resources of their lands for subsistence and traditional cultural practices, including food practices. For indigenous peoples, food security was intrinsically connected to their rights to enjoyment and protection of their lands and resources.

The Office of the High Commissioner had mainstreamed human rights in United Nations agencies’ programmes to promote the strengthening of sustainable food systems and support indigenous peoples in claiming the right to food. The Office had deployed senior indigenous fellows in 31 field presences, United Nations teams, and peace operations around the world. Together with United Nations field presences, these fellows were fostering greater capacity for indigenous peoples to exercise their right to food and related issues, by using existing national and international human rights mechanisms, and the Sustainable Development Goals’ processes. Ms. Kehris said that the panel discussion would analyse the impact of social and economic recovery plans in the COVID-19 context on indigenous peoples, particularly in relation to food security. The panellists would identify good practices, lessons learned and current challenges for the protection of indigenous peoples’ right to food.

Statements by the Panellists

JOSÉ FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said today there was a need to assess and promote the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of COVID-19 recovery plans as it related to food security. The protection of indigenous territories was vital to recovery, as it promoted sustainable livelihoods, increasing resilience in the face of future pandemics. The lack of protection of indigenous land led to deforestation, violence, killings, pollution, and forced eviction of indigenous peoples, among others. In many States, the enforcement of COVID-19 recovery plans was leading to a rise in authoritarianism with the justification of promoting economy recovery.

This was a critical year, as the world’s environmental agenda for the next decade would be set, which was closely linked to the human rights of all, but particularly indigenous peoples, who nourished and preserved the environment. For indigenous peoples, land was everything. Indigenous peoples over generations had learnt to live in a mutual respectful way with land: they were the restorers, protectors and observers, but they were those suffering the most from the crisis and food insecurity. Around $ 1.7 billion had been pledged at the COP-26, but without ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples, the violation of their rights in the name of recovery would continue, affecting their security at many levels. Indigenous initiatives to recover from the pandemic needed the support of States. Indigenous peoples sought to restore the use of traditional seeds and crops, with indigenous women playing an important role, which should be recognised and applauded. States should adopt dedicated measures to ensure that indigenous peoples were further protected, with the agreement and participation of the groups concerned, including them in the decision-making processes, and leaving no-one behind, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

MYRNA CUNNINGHAM, First Vice-President of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America, and the Caribbean, said that COVID-19 had demonstrated that the economic, social, and political model that predominated in the world could not guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples, and widened the gap every day, deepening problems and vulnerabilities. The voice of indigenous peoples was fundamental because indigenous peoples had the key to a transformative recovery based on their knowledge, and their collective consciousness and worldview. The regional indigenous platform had managed to document and disseminate hundreds of actions of indigenous peoples who had fought against COVID-19. Communities had deployed multiple actions to prevent the entry of the virus into their communities, and to mitigate the effects, including through traditional medicine systems; collection of information on infections and deaths; and social mobility and security protocols, among others.

The close link of indigenous peoples with the specific ecosystems of indigenous territories meant that there was a great diversity of food systems, production of multiple foods, and various forms of use of them. It had been demonstrated that ancestral cultures and practices were a remarkable source for responding to the climate, food, economic and health crises which were facing humanity. Therefore, the strategies of response to the impacts of COVID-19 and other global and regional crises needed to be placed at the centre of the strengthening of ancestral food systems. This was only possible if the necessary measures were taken to protect and consolidate indigenous territories and lands. Food systems of indigenous peoples added diversity of scientific knowledge, improved nutrition as well as the immune system and health, and were resistant to the risks and natural disasters which had increased due to the effects of the climate crisis. It was essential to support small producers to build healthy food systems, which were sustainable and equitable.

BINOTA MOY DHAMAI, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, numerous reports, statements and guidance notes had attested to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples, globally exposing the pre-existing structural inequalities. The Expert Mechanism had recognised that indigenous peoples had been hit the hardest by its socio-economic consequences and inadequate access to health care and other key services. The spread of COVID-19 had exacerbated an already critical situation for many indigenous peoples: a situation where inequalities and discrimination already abounded. Indigenous peoples were already disadvantaged and the pandemic had had a differentiated, and mostly disproportionate impact on indigenous peoples as a whole and on their rights.

COVID-19-related planning and recovery measures should use human rights-based and indigenous rights-based approaches and be anchored in the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples as set out in international human rights law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Recovery efforts should deal with the crisis at hand and address the underlying structural inequalities that had exacerbated the impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples. Key to the necessary reforms was the participation of and consultation with indigenous peoples in all decisions affecting them. The lack of appropriate mechanisms for the consultation and participation of indigenous peoples in designing, implementing and evaluating measures which may affect them often led to responses that were not culturally appropriate and that may not be in conformity with indigenous peoples’ rights in international law, including with the requirement to seek their free, prior and informed consent.

Finally, the Expert Mechanism wished to call upon States to maintain a living and sustained dialogue with indigenous peoples, aimed to build and rebuild together, achieve commitment, and strengthen partnership. Indigenous peoples should be included in decision-making processes at all levels, since they were part of the solution.

YON FERNÁNDEZ DE LARRINOA, Head of the Indigenous Peoples Unit in the Partnerships and United Nations Collaboration Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that the state of food insecurity report had confirmed that food insecurity and hunger were increasing, which had been occurring for five years, even before the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 for indigenous peoples was a crisis within a crisis. The systematic lack of recognition of their rights placed them at a greater risk of suffering the health and socio-economic effects of the pandemic. Today, there was no clear data on the number of indigenous peoples who had died from COVID-19. In July 2021, the Scientific Committee of the United Nations Food Systems Summit recognised for the first time that indigenous peoples’ food and knowledge systems were game changers for sustainability and resilience. This recognition validated at the same level indigenous peoples’ scientific knowledge and allowed the creation of a coalition on indigenous peoples´ food and knowledge systems.

This Coalition, which would be launched in October, enabled a space of collective work by indigenous peoples, countries, Universities and United Nations organizations. This was important because the pandemic highlighted that those indigenous peoples whose food systems were connected to healthy ecosystems maintained biodiversity while generating enough food for the community. To preserve biodiversity and address the climate crisis, indigenous peoples´ food and knowledge systems needed to be supported, with improved policies and programmes. In 2005, the Food and Agricultural Organization Council had adopted the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food, which stated that the right to food for indigenous peoples depended on respect to their access to their lands, natural resources, and territories. The biocentric approach embedding indigenous peoples’ beliefs was essential in supporting the sustainability and resilience of their food and knowledge systems. Without land, indigenous peoples did not have a right to food. The food and knowledge systems of indigenous peoples needed to be protected in order to protect the remaining biodiversity, with specific relevance given to indigenous women.

Discussion

In the ensuing discussion, some speakers said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the entrenched problems suffered by indigenous peoples and posed grave challenges to their health and food security. The disproportionate impact that the pandemic had on indigenous peoples was recognised, with speakers stating that the involvement of indigenous peoples in the recovery plans was paramount. Recovery plans should include preventative measures which were culturally appropriate and should include a gender and human rights perspective. Indigenous peoples needed to be front and centre of pandemic recovery plans, and the necessary conditions for indigenous peoples to develop their own recovery plans needed to be guaranteed. Food was the main source of life, and the transformation of food systems should be a priority in the economic and social recovery from the pandemic.

Many speakers said indigenous peoples possessed valuable solutions for tackling global food insecurity through their close relationship with the land and natural resources, traditional knowledge, and way of life. This could teach the rest of the world how to deal with issues such climate change, environmental degradation, and extreme weather conditions, which were all connected to food security. To address food security, States needed to acknowledge the role of indigenous peoples in protecting the world’s natural resources that maintained biodiversity and afforded them more accessible land. It was also vital to ensuring that the principle of free consent was applied in recovery plans for indigenous peoples when it came to tackling food insecurity. Many speakers spoke of national efforts to improve the livelihoods of indigenous peoples to ensure food security.

Some speakers said that indigenous women played a key role for health and food security within communities. They were important agents of change who could make valuable contributions in the fight against food insecurity, thanks to their knowledge of natural resources and the specific needs of their communities. Advancing the rights of women and girls was key to finding sustainable solutions, and all States should ensure the participation of women and girls, particularly when it came to recovery programmes. Speakers highlighted national programmes that had been launched, aimed at enhancing the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. Some speakers outlined national subsidies and aid provided directly to indigenous peoples, particularly during the pandemic, while others said they had developed public policies which met the needs of indigenous peoples. Some speakers expressed concern about reports of threats, violence, and attacks on indigenous human rights defenders, who had been standing up to protect their lands.

Concluding Remarks

JOSÉ FRANCISCO CALÍ TZAY, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said his conclusion was that global leaders continually discussing the importance of COVID-19 recovery, climate change and biodiversity had sadly made little progress so far. He hoped for progress this year at the COP 27. He recommended greater inclusion of indigenous peoples and indigenous women and called for support for indigenous initiatives to ensure food security. The meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in recovery was essential for this recovery to be sustainable and long-lasting.

MYRNA CUNNINGHAM, First Vice-President of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, said it was very clear that the recovery from COVID-19, including indigenous peoples, required in the first place that indigenous peoples should be recognised as subjects of collective and individual rights, and became real partners of those working or wishing to work with them in their territories. This meant that the real organization of indigenous peoples needed to be recognised. There was a call in all comments made this morning that things needed to be done differently – this required working with indigenous organizations, women and youth organizations, partnering with them, adopting a holistic approach to not only economic empowerment but integral and holistic empowerment. Good practices should be promoted: there should be exchanges and a lot of dialogue.

BINOTA MOY DHAMAI, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said the first thing was the participation – it was very important that indigenous peoples participate, as this provided inclusion, equality and diversity, and this was somehow missing in this dialogue. It would have been very effective and productive if indigenous peoples attending the session had been able to take the floor and share their views – it would have been a more effective way to overcome the challenges. COVID-19 had had a disproportionate impact on indigenous peoples, including on recovery plans, due to structural disparities and discrimination. There must be a human rights-based approach and an indigenous rights approach. Self-determination was a right, and the participation of indigenous peoples must be prioritised.

YON FERNÁNDEZ DE LARRINOA, Head of the Indigenous Peoples Unit in the Partnerships and United Nations Collaboration Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said there were a number of important steps that should be taken together. The Food and Agriculture Organization was working with various other agencies, indigenous leaders and others, and there was a role that States could play. It was important to maintain a constant dialogue with countries and indigenous leaders, in order to allow countries to bring forth policies that were respectful of free, prior and informed consent, without which there would continue to be policies and programmes that did not include the needs of the indigenous. Oral knowledge needed to be included in national programmes and policies, and this should occur at the widest level. The great majority of indigenous peoples lived in countries that did not recognise indigenous peoples, and this needed to be changed in order to have their values recognised. Indigenous agricultural systems provided diversity as well as a different view of the production of food, and this should be incorporated in the day-to-day work of both countries and industrial food production systems.

Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Reports

The Council has before it the reports of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on its 15th session (A/HRC /51/49) and on treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, including peace accords and reconciliation initiatives, and their constitutional recognition (A/HRC /51/50).

Presentation of Reports

BINOTA MOY DHAMAI, Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, wished the Council a happy fifteenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt the lives of indigenous peoples globally. It had disproportionality affected indigenous peoples, deepening pre-existing social inequalities. Indigenous peoples were increasingly recognised as agents of change and solution holders in matters ranging from climate change to desertification, land degradation and drought. Indigenous women were active change agents in society and were champions of sustainability. They were custodians of the collective accumulation of scientific knowledge, which had a key role to play in safeguarding ecosystems. Indigenous women’s in-depth understanding of botany and animal species was a powerful tool to mitigate against the catastrophic impact of climate change.

The Expert Mechanism had undertaken a study on treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between indigenous peoples and States, including peace accords and treaties, and a seminar was held to obtain substantive input into the study. The Expert Mechanism had adopted during its fifteenth session in July the study entitled Treaties, Agreements, and Constructive Arrangements between Indigenous Peoples and States. The study was an opportunity to identify the principles and conditions as well as broader gaps and challenges in the realisation and exercise of the rights of indigenous peoples to conclude treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

The study analysed enabling conditions for the establishment of treaties and agreements, first of all the recognition of indigenous peoples and the recognition of their rights. This recognition may not be effective if it was not accompanied by structural reforms, the recognition of juridical personality and power sharing, and constitutional recognition. The principle of free, prior and informed consent was relevant in guiding the way to establish agreements. The study identified the conditions and obstacles to the effective implementation of such instruments. The study addressed the need to have appropriate mechanisms supporting the process of negotiations.

The second report adopted was the annual report which detailed all the activities of the Expert Mechanism this year, including intersessional activities. The work that the treaty bodies were doing on indigenous peoples’ rights was increasing exponentially. The participation of indigenous peoples in the Human Rights Council, in the work of the Expert Mechanism and in United Nations processes was indispensable. The Expert Mechanism had been facing acts that could be understood as acts of intimation, as well as reprisals against persons or groups who had cooperated with the United Nations. Mr. Dhamai hoped that they could build a constructive, safe and respectful atmosphere for the proper functioning of the Expert Mechanism.

DIEL MOCHIRE MWENGE, Member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations, updating the Council on the work and activities of the Voluntary Fund, said that with the mandate which had been expanded and renewed over the last 37 years, the Trust Fund had been able to support the participation of more than 3,000 indigenous representatives, including women, men, young people, older persons, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons, and indigenous persons with disabilities, in the work of the Expert Mechanism and the Human Rights Council. Since first established as a body in 1985, the Fund had made significant contributions to progress made on the rights of indigenous peoples. As of 2020, the Fund had extended its mandate in order to facilitate the participation of indigenous peoples in the United Nations Forum on Enterprise and Human Rights, among others.

The beneficiaries of the Fund were indigenous peoples’ representatives, who without it would not have been able to participate in the work of the United Nations. Indigenous peoples had made significant contributions to the work of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other bodies, providing knowledge of indigenous problems and concerns affecting indigenous peoples in all areas of the world. They had been able to tap into the international system in order to defend their rights and to draw attention to the human rights violations that they were confronted with locally.

Funding to allow for the participation of indigenous peoples in the work of the United Nations was vital. The Fund also allocated funds to strengthen indigenous capacity as well, and regularly convened training sessions or workshops on human rights. The Fund had come a long way towards raising awareness and international action when it came to the rights, status and condition of indigenous peoples around the world. The increasing and effective impact of the work of indigenous representatives in the work of the United Nations bodies responsible for human rights was clear.

Discussion

In the discussion, some speakers said that indigenous human rights defenders should be ensured a safe working environment, without threats or intimidation of any kind, and their situation should be addressed. States should guarantee them this without any discrimination. The dialogue between indigenous peoples and other stakeholders should be prioritised, and it should ideally have a non-confrontational approach. The participation of indigenous peoples in the work of the United Nations and its mechanisms was a vital means to ensure that their rights were taken into account at all levels of decision-making. Indigenous rights should remain high on the agenda of the Human Rights Council.

All States should take appropriate measures to ensure the presence of indigenous women in decision-making processes, some speakers said. Given the central role of indigenous women in the development, application, preservation and transmission of indigenous knowledge, this inclusion was a pre-requisite to ensuring the proper recognition and necessary protection of indigenous knowledge within established legal frameworks. The voice of indigenous peoples was a crucial part of discussions on best practices to advance indigenous rights and issues. The promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples required an inclusive approach, with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples had borne the brunt of aggression and militarism, with violence and the loss of life, including among women and children, and yet they had contributed greatly to the elaboration of various peace accords and initiatives.

The international community was confronted with the inextricable link between human rights and the protection of health and the environment, and of the importance of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. What was required was a genuine paradigm shift to ensure genuine and sustainable dialogue between States and indigenous peoples. To remedy historic inequalities, it was vital to create a new relationship, based on trust and mutual respect, inter-cultural dialogue, and recognition of traditional forms of government, drawing on multilateralism to create a positive environment for the development and growth of this dialogue. States, indigenous peoples, and other relevant stakeholders should seek advice and cooperation with the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Persons.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/09/alors-que-le-conseil-des-droits-de-lhomme-se-penche-sur-les

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.