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Human Rights Council holds panel discussion and interactive dialogue on indigenous issues

MIDDAY/AFTERNOON

17 September 2014

Holds Panel on Indigenous Peoples and Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives, Dialogue with Special Rapporteur and Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Rights

The Human Rights Council today discussed indigenous issues, holding a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in disaster risk reduction, and prevention and preparedness initiatives, and a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Council also heard an address by Ever Martínez, Vice Minister of Justice of Paraguay.

Moderating the panel discussion was Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. The panellists were Albert Deterville, Chair-Rapporteur, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Alejandro Maldonado, Executive Secretary, National Coordination Office for Disaster Reduction, Guatemala; Giovanni Reyes, National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines; Aissatou Oumarou Ibrahim, Association of Indigenous Women, Chad; and Margareta Wahlström, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Flavia Pansieri, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, opening the panel, said the events of recent years had brought home how sharply disasters could affect indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples were among the first to face the consequences of climate change, given their close relationship with the environment and its resources. Addressing climate change was imperative to tackling disaster risk reduction and the focus must be on indigenous communities. States were urged to take the conclusions of this dialogue into account in their national actions and in international efforts, including preparations for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

In the discussion, speakers recognized that natural disasters posed unique and significant challenges for indigenous peoples. They possessed a vast body of knowledge and protective skills to prepare for and cope with disaster. For disaster risk reduction to be successful, tribal governments and indigenous communities must be empowered to take ownership of the policies and it was important to strengthen the links between disaster risk reduction and long-term sustainable development planning and recovery. It was important that the World Conference was not an end goal but a stepping stone to the better application of the rights of indigenous peoples. One key element to the promotion and protection of human rights of indigenous peoples in disaster risk reduction was their participation in decision-making that affected them.

Speaking in the panel discussion were Costa Rica on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, European Union, Mexico, Canada, Congo, Bolivia, Denmark, Germany, Philippines, El Salvador, United States, Estonia, Russia, Australia, Ireland, Finland, Morocco and Brazil.

Indian Council of South America, International Association of Schools of Social Work, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact also spoke.

The Council heard an address by Ever Martínez, Vice Minister of Justice of Paraguay. In his statement, Mr. Martínez presented the mid-term report on implementation of recommendations received in the context of Paraguay’s Universal Periodic Review. Within the dynamics of the process of drafting its national report, it had become apparent that spaces of dialogue between peers proved important in sharing experiences and best practice, in consolidating a human rights agenda. Paraguay had clearly shown its commitment and intention to generating continuity to policies, programmes and plans based on rights and aiming to improve the quality of life of its people.

The Council also held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, presenting her report said that this was a very historic year for indigenous peoples. Negotiations would start for the post-2015 development agenda and for a new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the first ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples would be held. Although there was at both international and domestic levels a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, there were still numerous obstacles preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their rights.

Albert Deterville, Chair Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, presented the activities of the Expert Mechanism during the past year, including a follow-up to the study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples; a study on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives; and an updated version of its report on responses received to a questionnaire for States and indigenous peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Canada, Panama and Peru spoke as concerned countries. Canadian Human Rights Commission also spoke.

In the discussion that followed, speakers praised the vision presented by the Special Rapporteur regarding the need to operationalize the international normative framework on indigenous communities. The Special Rapporteur’s overview of some of the obstacles that remained in all countries in which indigenous peoples lived, including their non-recognition, and pending work on reconciliation and compensation for earlier violations of their human rights, was also welcomed. It was clear that substantial challenges remained in reaching the most disadvantaged children, especially indigenous children. The effective participation of indigenous peoples in discussions and events was crucial for concrete results and to deal with the most concrete human rights issues that continued to affect them. It was hoped that the upcoming World Conference would bring lasting improvements to the situation of indigenous peoples.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were the European Union, Costa Rica on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Denmark on behalf of the Nordic Countries, United States, Sierra Leone, Russia, Bolivia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Venezuela, United Nations Children’s Fund, Australia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Chile, Estonia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Iraq, China, Holy See, International Labour Organization, Thailand, Congo, Morocco, Ireland, Malaysia, and Brazil.

International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights took the floor, as did the following non-governmental organizations: Minority Rights Group, Foodfirst Information and Action Network, Franciscans International, World Environment and Resources Council, Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada, Indian Council of South America, International Institute for Peace, VIVAT International, and International Movement Against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism.

Russia spoke in a right of reply.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work on Thursday, 18 September, at 9 a.m., to consider the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Reviews of Norway, Albania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Panel on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Natural Disaster Risk Reduction, and Prevention and Preparedness Initiatives

Opening Remarks

FLAVIA PANSIERI, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in her opening remarks that the events of recent years had brought home how sharply disasters could affect indigenous peoples and that today’s discussion would enable the Council to share insights about the links between disaster risk reduction, human rights and issues particularly important to indigenous peoples. The recent study by the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of disaster risk reduction paid particular attention to the right of indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making, their added vulnerability to disaster risk factors and the contributions they could make to disaster risk reduction. Indigenous peoples were among the first to face the consequences of climate change, given their close relationship with the environment and its resources. Addressing climate change was imperative to tackling disaster risk reduction and the focus must be on indigenous communities. The negative effects of disasters varied enormously according to the community’s exposure, vulnerability and resilience.

It was imperative to ensure that the voices of indigenous peoples were heard in measures to reduce disaster risks and their views must also be taken into account because they had a great deal to contribute thanks to their continued access to traditional knowledge and their relationship with their lands and territories. The World Conference on Indigenous Peoples would be taking place in New York next week which was a unique opportunity and might lead to concrete measures to improve the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, for example by drawing up national action plans to ensure that indigenous peoples could participate in decision-making, and that their rights were fully respected, including in disaster risk reduction. In closing, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights urged States to take the conclusions of this dialogue into account in their national actions and in international efforts, including preparations for the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Statements by the Panel Moderator and Panellists

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and Panel Moderator, said the three objectives of the panel were to investigate the link between disaster risk reduction and human rights focusing on indigenous peoples, to identify good practices and challenges for the effective participation of indigenous peoples, and to identify policies and strategies to strengthen their participation. The issue was very close to the hearts of indigenous peoples because they lived in the most fragile ecosystems in the world and were most vulnerable to discrimination and marginalization as far as most Government disaster risk reduction programmes were concerned.

MARGARETA WAHLSTROM, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, recalled the adoption 10 years ago by Governments of the 10-year Hyogo Framework for Action in Kobe, Japan, inspired by the enormous death and destruction caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami. The Hyogo Framework for Action had an ambitious objective: to build the resilience of nations and communities to disaster by saving lives and reducing economic losses caused by disasters. They had seen 10 years of significant progress in its implementation. Fewer people were dying today because of weather-related disasters, thanks to stronger legislation on disaster risk reduction, better early warning systems and better preparedness measures. But what had not improved were the economic, social and cultural losses to countries, which continued to rise dramatically because more country assets and natural resources were vulnerable to disasters. Today’s discussion came at a vital time; in 2015 leaders from all parts of society would forge three major international frameworks – a new agreement on climate change, a new sustainable development agenda and a new framework for disaster risk reduction. Together, they would redefine the future development pathways of humanity. Indigenous peoples had a critical role to play, and must be engaged and included in local and national disaster risk reduction plans.

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair-Rapporteur, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said the Council had requested the Expert Mechanism to prepare a study on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives, including consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned in the elaboration of national plans for natural disaster risk reduction. One of the first assertions it made was that disaster risk reduction was a human rights issue. It posed both direct and indirect effects to human rights. Disaster risk reduction contributed to the protection of human rights by reducing the likelihood of natural hazards having a negative impact on housing, health, land rights and access to food, among others. It also provided an enabling environment for the promotion and protection of human rights particularly as it applied to indigenous peoples, whose close relationship with their natural environment made them particularly vulnerable to disaster risk. The aspect of participation was another human rights dimension of disaster risk reduction that the study addressed.

Although human rights instruments did not refer explicitly to disaster risk reduction, the study pointed out some significant connections in the international legal framework. Some of the risk factors identified in the study included environmental and geographic factors, climate change, vulnerable livelihoods, resource extraction, health risks, and migration to urban areas.

AISSATOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Association of Indigenous Women, Chad, said the world was facing the impact of climate change on local ecosystems with floods, droughts and hurricanes, among others. There was a need to ensure that they had tools to ensure adaptation and thus ensure mitigation. With reference to the case of the Mbororos in Chad, they used systems of traditional knowledge to deal with changes in the climate on the seasonal level and to manage in a stable manner the scarce resources, such as access to water and pastures. These communities faced certain challenges, among them climate change and certain restrictions on their mobility. There was also the challenge of the change in the ways these communities lived. Instead of leading a nomadic way of life, in some cases they had to settle in some areas which were challenging. There were also inter-community conflicts relating to land and movement. Systems of knowledge included modern science, such as forecasting, and decision-making at the local level such as through local networks. The way to proceed was to establish dialogue and exchanges involving different stakeholders, including local communities, governments, and representatives of civil society, as well a policy of prevention.

GIOVANNI REYES, National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines, presenting a series of slides of maps, charts and statistics to the Council, began by saying the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, who numbered between 12 and 15 million, inhabited more than five million hectares pf ancestral lands of the country’s total land mass of 30 million hectares. They were composed of 110 ethno-linguistic groups and were located in 50 of the country’s 78 provinces. Disaster risk reduction was faced by indigenous communities in the context of up to 19 typhoons that hit the country annually. Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 100 years. Aside from natural calamities, there were numerous large-scale mining operations that transgressed into ancestral domains. Both natural and man-made calamities posed the largest threat to the survival of indigenous peoples in the Philippines today. Indigenous peoples could become a driving force not only against climate change but for peace and national development. After all, he said, indigenous peoples’ forests were the planet’s remaining epicentres of climate change, change mitigation and resiliency.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and moderator, said the linking of disaster risk reduction with development planning was a key factor, and Governments had to join efforts to agree on a post 2015 development agenda that was sensitive to the issues being raised today.

ALEJANDRO MALDONADO, Executive Secretary, National Coordination Office for Disaster Reduction, Guatemala, presenting a series of slides of maps, charts and statistics to the Council, said from a Western perspective they could not be unaware of the impact of climate change on development – and on disasters. Article 29 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly gave them the right to conservation of the productive capacity of their land, and States must assist indigenous peoples in maintaining their resources. Guatemala had tackled the issue by changing its approach, from a disaster perspective to a disaster risk management perspective and by putting in place institutional tools. Guatemala had also undertaken climate change adaptation measures, all with intensive participation from indigenous peoples and especially indigenous women, Mr. Maldonado emphasized. Risk was the result of the imbalance in mother earth as a result of human activity, and that was the view of indigenous peoples. Disaster risk could not be separated from the planning of development programmes, land use, geological changes, water use and climate change. A comprehensive approach linked to the developmental goals of countries was needed.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and Panel Moderator, said it was encouraging to see a Government approach to disaster risk reduction which respected the principle of participation as well as linking it to development plans.

Discussion

Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said it was important to strengthen the links between disaster risk reduction and long-term sustainable development planning and recovery. Prevention programmes and projects to provide reconstruction and response in case of disaster had to take place. European Union said that indigenous people were often among the poorest and marginalized and were exposed to disasters. The new Hyogo Framework for Action should be more inclusive and gender-sensitive. This should include appropriate use of social safety net mechanisms. The role of women should also be promoted. Mexico said that disaster risk reduction strategies had to be comprehensive, and broad technical cooperation and assistance was needed to do this. How could the international community move effectively to incorporate the views of indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge in disaster risk reduction programmes and policies?

Canada said that natural disasters posed unique and significant challenges for indigenous peoples. Canada was taking a comprehensive and collaborative approach to disaster risk reduction, partnering with indigenous peoples and other stakeholders to reduce vulnerabilities before disasters occurred. Bolivia said it had a law on disaster risk reduction to provide assistance in case of disasters and emergencies. It also had an approach on disaster risk prevention and adaptation to climate change and was developing networks providing early warning and dissemination of information for the prevention of natural disasters. Republic of Congo said that indigenous peoples in the country were indeed most vulnerable to the risk of natural disasters in light of their way of life. In its policy of disaster management, it had taken into account the protection of the rights of these persons. Relative laws and regulations in place or being elaborated provided for consultative approaches.

Germany said indigenous peoples possessed a vast body of knowledge and protective skills to prepare for and cope with disaster; hence Germany had consulted with indigenous communities when developing disaster risk reduction policies, such as preventing deforestation. Germany asked the panel for insight into integration of indigenous knowledge into disaster risk reduction strategies. El Salvador said developing countries were the most affected by natural disasters, and had less capacity to tackle the problems. Climate change was one of the greatest threats to humanity and affected all goals on sustainable development and poverty reduction. El Salvador asked about the Council’s follow-up to the panel to identify disaster risk reduction measures that countries could use.

United States said for disaster risk reduction to be successful tribal governments and indigenous communities must be empowered to take ownership of the policies. The United States actively worked with its 566 federally recognized tribes as partners; at the core was building institutional capacity to allow them to be the principal line of defence. The United States shared case studies and examples of best practice with the Council. Philippines said as a country prone to natural disasters because of its geographical location it had taken a pro-active approach in disaster risk reduction. In the aftermath of recent calamities, many lessons had been learned; thanks to climate change, Haiyan was now the new normal. Philippines said the panel was a change for the voice of affected communities to be heard above the noise of the storm.

Denmark said two years ago the Governments of Greenland and Iceland hosted the first indigenous brainstorming event on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; now it was less than one week away. It was important that the World Conference was not an end goal but a stepping stone to the better application of the rights of indigenous peoples. Estonia said the world could not ignore man-made disasters, especially those caused by extractive industries on the land of indigenous peoples – the connection between the industrialization of indigenous lands and disasters was obvious. Those risks could be easily reduced by involving indigenous peoples in the planning stages of the industries that affected them. Awareness-raising of the rights of indigenous peoples needed to be increased.

Indian Council of South America said that indigenous peoples needed to be in control of their right to development, which included their right to self-determination. Indigenous peoples were vulnerable to disasters and environmental impacts by nuclear wastes and mining activities. The French had exploded nuclear weapons in the Pacific, which had had dramatic effects on the indigenous populations there. Equal participation was essential. International Association of Schools of Social Work said that United Nations bodies and mechanisms still operated on biased grounds and colonialism. Their work seemed to suit the objective of the United Nations rather than of the indigenous peoples. Activities related to Alaska and Hawaii had for example regrettably omitted the question of self-determination.

Responses from the Panellists

GIOVANNI REYES, National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines, said that States had to take the lead in ensuring that communities were put into safety during natural disasters.

MARGARETA WAHLSTROM, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said that the principle had to be the inclusion, and that States had to be careful about systematically isolating decision making relating to indigenous issues. She underlined the necessity to include indigenous peoples in risk-assessment activities.

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair-Rapporteur, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that many indigenous people lost their lives and properties 500 years ago when European powers colonised South America. The historical context was important and should not be overlooked. Indigenous peoples should not be forcibly removed from their lands and territories without prior consent and reparation. It was true that people may have to move when there were risks of natural disasters.

ALEJANDRO MALDONADO, Executive Secretary, National Coordination Office for Disaster Reduction, Guatemala, said that incorporating the rights of indigenous people within the risk reduction activities was key.

AISSATOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Association of Indigenous Women, Chad, said that it was important to use traditional knowledge of indigenous people to prevent disasters. The prevention activities of indigenous people were often under-estimated.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and Panel Moderator, said that historical circumstances and industrial activities had increased the vulnerability of indigenous peoples to environmental disasters. Rehabilitation processes after a disaster were also important and often overlooked. The World Conference on Disaster would take place next year, and it would be good to include human rights in it. She also underlined the necessity to address the issue of discrimination and its negative effects on indigenous people, particularly in cases of disasters. International efforts against climate change could also better take indigenous issues into consideration. She went back to panellists and asked them how to take cultural backgrounds of indigenous peoples into consideration for preventing disasters.

MARGARETA WAHLSTROM, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said the greatest challenge was to move from focusing on disasters as an event to disasters as a work in progress that could be planned for in advance. It sounded simple, and was not – but it was a fundamental requirement. Indigenous peoples had to recognize their rights, as well as the medium and long-term impact of disasters on their livelihoods. More research on the long-term impact of disasters on indigenous peoples was needed. Half of the world’s countries had national platforms for disaster risk reduction, which were supposed to be inclusive, multi-participatory and multi-stakeholder, but in most cases they were not and were Government platforms only. Indonesia was a good example of a country doing well in that regard. Climate change was forcing a change in fundamental thinking about what life should really subsist on in the future. Technology could not provide all the answers; earth-based observations were needed by the people who lived closest to the earth.

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair-Rapporteur, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said disaster risk reduction initiatives should respect indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination, lands, territories, resources and participation in decision making. States should always consult with indigenous peoples and seek to obtain their free, prior and informed consent about activities that may impact on their territories, lands and resources, especially extractive industries, which may increase the risk of disasters. Mr. Deterville offered advice to indigenous peoples, urging them to seek greater participation in disaster risk reduction at global, national and local levels. Indigenous peoples should also work to develop preparedness and disaster risk reduction plans at the community level. Indigenous knowledge should be promoted and widely shared, as it had a clear role to play in disaster risk reduction strategies. Mr. Deterville advised the global disaster risk reduction community to exchange good practices and experiences in working with indigenous peoples at the regional and international levels, as well as develop training programmes on the issues.

AISSATOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Association of Indigenous Women, Chad, showed a series of slides and photos to the Council to illustrate a case study from Chad on how indigenous communities mixed modern science with traditional knowledge to create geographical three-dimensional models that mapped disaster risk areas. Experts could guide the process, and elders could register the main sites. Ms. Ibrahim stressed the inter-generational approach of the case study which allowed communities to share the information in their mother tongues. Although there were challenges in the process, such as language, tradition, customs and follow-up, the map was just the beginning of the community engagement, and a great way to take into account traditional knowledge.

GIOVANNI REYES, National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines, spoke about the ways to capture the knowledge of indigenous peoples, which included mapping, participatory inventory of community resources, and participatory planning for disaster risk reduction workshops in which hazardous areas would be identified by the people themselves.

ALEJANDRO MALDONADO, Executive Secretary, National Coordination Office for Disaster Reduction, Guatemala, said that in 2008 Guatemala had established a commission to harmonize the knowledge and ancestral wisdom of the people in Guatemala in order to utilize it in the disaster risk reduction and early warning plans. In terms of the content of the project, Mr. Maldonado said that the sound of the rivers, which was very important for indigenous peoples, could be linked to floods and increase in the flow of tributaries.

Discussion

Russia welcomed this timely discussion as most indigenous peoples lived in areas most at risk from disasters, and were also increasingly at risk from man-made disasters. Traditional methods of behaviour were important to take into account while making disaster risk reduction plans and programmes. Australia’s national emergency strategy for indigenous peoples recognized the capacities of its Aborigine and Torres Island populations for emergency preparedness, response and recovery and included their institutions and organizations in the implementation of the plan. Indigenous peoples had a close relationship with their environment and this could be both a blessing and a curse, as it also made them very vulnerable to the changes in the environment, said Ireland and stressed the importance of ensuring coherence in the post-2015 disaster risk reduction initiatives and strategies. Finland said that one key element to the promotion and protection of human rights of indigenous peoples in disaster risk reduction was their participation in decision-making that affected them, and asked the panellists about good examples of participation of women in disaster preparedness.

Morocco said that the study correctly focused on links between disasters and the enjoyment of human rights. Morocco underlined the importance of fully including indigenous people in activities relating to the reduction of the risks of disasters at all levels, including planning and implementation. Brazil said that special attention should be paid to the integrity of the local environment and the rights of indigenous people. In that spirit, Brazil had adopted measures and plans to protect indigenous territories from disasters, with the participation of indigenous representatives. The implementation of these plans would also be monitored by indigenous representatives.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada underlined the need to respect indigenous peoples’ prior information and consent on measures that affected them. It regretted that indigenous human rights activists received threats and attacks, and had their activities restricted in many places, including in Colombia and Thailand. The Council should pay specific attention to the situation of indigenous rights defenders. International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism in a joint statement with National Coalition Against Racial Discrimination said that indigenous peoples were one of the most vulnerable groups with regards to natural disasters. Nepal’s indigenous peoples were not sufficiently included in Nepal’s policies on disaster risks, and were already feeling the negative effects of climate change. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact said that disaster risk reduction measures were crucial for indigenous people. Indigenous Nagas were victims of discrimination and other human rights violations in India since the end of the Second World War.

Closing Remarks

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair-Rapporteur, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that the post-2015 development agenda and the disaster risk reduction agenda should continue to reflect the needs and views of the indigenous peoples and called for the inclusion of a human rights based approach to disaster risk reduction.

MARGARETA WAHLSTROM, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said that the monitoring of the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action would be looking into the inclusion of indigenous peoples in decision-making and how decision-making at local levels could inform national ones.

GIOVANNI REYES, National Coalition of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines said that forests remained the only barrier against carbon dioxide and stressed that according to recent international reports, indigenous areas were richer in biodiversity then the protected areas.

AISSATOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Association of Indigenous Women, Chad said that the World Conference was an opportunity for the indigenous peoples to have recognition by their Governments and have their rights promoted.

ALEJANDRO MALDONADO, Executive Secretary, National Coordination Office for Disaster Reduction, Guatemala, said that the participation of women was the most important factor to take into account. Indigenous women were actively participating in Guatemala.

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and Panel Moderator, in her closing remarks summarized the major points from the discussion and noted that many speakers welcomed the value of the report by the Expert Mechanism on the rights ofindigenous peoples. There was a need to look into the full spectrum of work related to disaster reduction, namely preparedness, response and recovery. Historical and present circumstances facing the indigenous peoples such as discrimination, marginalization and exclusion should be more clearly identified and addressed in better fashion, while the active participation of women should be integral into all planning processes that were happening. Finally, there was a need to ensure that disaster risk reduction and a human rights-based approach to climate change were integrated in the final outcomes of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, the post-2015 development agenda and the post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.

Statement by the Vice-Minister of Justice of Paraguay

EVER MARTINEZ, Vice-Minister of Justice of Paraguay, presented Paraguay’s mid-term report on implementation of the recommendations received in the context of the Universal Periodic Review. Paraguay had undertaken to work with the Universal Periodic Review system from the outset, by initially drafting its national report, a very positive experience in terms of inter-institutional cooperation and incorporating civil society dynamics. Within the dynamics of the process it had become apparent that spaces of dialogue between peers proved important in sharing experiences and best practices and in consolidating a human rights agenda. Paraguay had clearly shown its commitment and intention to generating continuity to policies, programmes and plans based on rights and aiming to improve the quality of life of its people. One of the main priorities was to reduce poverty, approached through a national programme targeting the poorest sectors of the population with a view to boosting income and ensuring access to social services for families living in extreme poverty.

Particular attention had been devoted to access to justice, citizen security and prison reform, to mention a few areas of endeavour. The judiciary was seeking to achieve a cross-cutting approach to human rights in all areas of administration of justice, including adoption of human rights indicators on the right to a fair trial. Major progress had also been made in combating trafficking of persons. Children and adolescents also enjoyed special protection in Paraguay. On gender, since July 2012 the Secretariat for Women had been granted a higher official status and had now become a Ministry. On persons with disabilities, Paraguay had recently established the Secretariat for the rights of persons with disabilities, to guarantee full observance of the rights of this sector of the population. Paraguay had initiated a system for monitoring recommendations, which had created a virtual platform to provide information on international recommendations and rulings in the area of human rights affecting the country. Paraguay stood firm in its defence and promotion of human rights and intended to continue to promote them.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples (A/HRC/27/52)

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples - mission to Panama (A/HRC/27/52/Add.1)

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples - mission to Canada (A/HRC/27/52/Add.2)

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples - mission to Peru (A/HRC/27/52/Add.3)

The Council has before it an addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples - observations on communications (A/HRC/27/52/Add.4)

The Council has before it the report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on its seventh session (A/HRC/27/64)

The Council has before it the study of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples (A/HRC/27/65)

The Council has before it the study of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction and prevention and preparedness initiatives (A/HRC/27/66)

The Council has before it the report of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples containing the final summary of responses to the questionnaire seeking the views of States and indigenous peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/HRC/27/67

Introduction of Reports by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said this was a very historic year for indigenous peoples. It was the year in which negotiations would start for the post-2015 development agenda and for a new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Special Rapporteur would spend some of her time in ensuring respect for the human rights and priorities of indigenous peoples on development and climate change mitigation and adaptation would be integrated into these agreements. On 22 and 23 September, the first ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples would be held. It was felt that, so far, the draft outcome document reflected many measures on what indigenous peoples were asking Governments to do to meet their obligations for the protection, respect and fulfilment of indigenous peoples’ human rights. Although there was at both international and domestic levels a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, there were still numerous obstacles preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their rights.

The first barrier was the application of the concept of indigenous peoples. The second involved difficulties of States in the operalization of indigenous peoples’ rights. A third barrier included the absence of steps towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples and redress for past violation of their human rights. The nearly universal disadvantageous social and economic conditions of indigenous peoples as compared to the economic and social conditions of the majority societies in which they lived presented a barrier to the full exercise of their human rights. While previous mandate holders had integrated a focus on women and children in their work, women and children had never been the focus of a thematic report, and it was time to remedy this.

On country visits by the Special Rapporteur’s predecessor, in Panama it had been observed that there were a series of problems related to the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular with respect to lands and resources, large-scaled development projects, and autonomy and participation, among others. On a mission to Canada, the well-being gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people had not narrowed, treaty and aboriginal claims remained persistently unresolved, and indigenous women and girls remained vulnerable to abuse. Regarding a visit to Peru, there was a high level of distrust and discontent between indigenous peoples and the State and extractive sector, which had resulted in protests and violent conflict.

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair-Rapporteur, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presented the activities of the Expert Mechanism during the past year, including follow-up to a study on access to justice in the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, with a focus on restorative justice and indigenous juridical systems, particularly as they related to achieving peace and reconciliation; a study on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in natural disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives; and an updated version of its report on responses received to a questionnaire for States and indigenous peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The follow-up study on access to justice built upon the Expert Mechanism’s first study on access to justice, and focused on three specific dimensions of access to justice for indigenous peoples: indigenous juridical systems; barriers and remedies in access to justice for indigenous women, children and youth and persons with disabilities; and restorative justice and its role in achieving peace and reconciliation. The study recommended that States recognize indigenous peoples’ right to maintain and develop their own juridical systems, adopt a holistic approach to access to justice, improve data disaggregation in criminal justice systems, and train and sensitise law enforcement authorities on the specific rights and needs of indigenous women, children and youth and persons with disabilities. The study on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives explored the links between disaster risk reduction and human rights and analysed some of the factors that placed indigenous peoples at particular risk of being affected by disasters, including climate change, resource extraction and vulnerable livelihoods. It then examined how indigenous peoples could contribute to disaster risk reduction initiatives, including through their traditional knowledge, and proposed ways to increase indigenous peoples’ participation in these initiatives.

The Expert Mechanism also continued its questionnaire survey to seek the views of States and of indigenous peoples on best practices regarding possible appropriate measures and implementation strategies to attain the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and sought responses on issues such as self-determination and autonomy, participation in decision-making, culture and languages, non-discrimination and equality, lands, territories and resources, and treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States. The Expert Mechanism welcomed the responses of 25 States and of 19 indigenous peoples’ organizations to this questionnaire. During the year, the Expert Mechanism had also undertaken a number of related activities to further its work, and participated in a seminar co-organised by the Faculty of Law of the University of Auckland and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Access to Justice in the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Expert Mechanism’s inter-sessional activities had also been directed at enhancing cooperation with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, especially in the preparatory process of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.


Statements by Concerned Countries

Canada, speaking as a concerned country, reiterated its commitment to protect the rights of indigenous peoples at home and abroad. The report by the Special Rapporteur acknowledged that positive steps had been taken by Canada for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. Canada was the first country to constitutionalise the rights of indigenous peoples, and had numerous laws that addressed indigenous issues. Canada recognized the challenges faced by indigenous people, particularly due to the country’s vast territory. Canada had adopted several policies to address those challenges, and had for example recently released an action plan to prevent violence against indigenous women and girls and protect the families. This action plan improved the law enforcement and justice response. Canada would continue working with partners and indigenous families to make progress on this issue. Canada had identified priorities for the rights of indigenous peoples, and would for example work on housing, access to education and social and economic integration.

Canadian Human Rights Commission shared many concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur. In 2008, the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended so that complaints could be filed concerning matters governed by the Indian Act, therefore providing access to avenues of redress that had previously been closed to indigenous peoples. Women and girls in Canada faced a persistent and disproportionate level of violence, and suffered more if they lacked access to justice. The Commission would continue its efforts towards ensuring that all indigenous peoples had access to justice, and would host a series of roundtable discussions with indigenous women regarding the barriers to justice they encountered.

Panama, speaking as a concerned country, said that as reflected in the report, Panama had an advanced legal framework regarding the rights of indigenous people. Under the structure of the Government it had a vice ministry for indigenous peoples established in 2010. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur had been able to see the wealth and diversity of the indigenous peoples of Panama. There was constitutional recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. Panama was implementing a government plan for 2014-2019, including the priority of strengthening the district approach it had adopted. It intended to expand health infrastructure in these districts. There was also promotion of the provision of appropriate housing, with respect for cultural and environmental assets. Roads were also being developed to ensure agricultural products could be traded, and in order to promote tourism.

Peru, speaking as a concerned country, said that it attributed importance to the Special Rapporteur’s assessment of the situation of indigenous peoples in the country. Among advances outlined, Peru welcomed that the Special Rapporteur had commented on the enactment of the Act on Consultation of Indigenous Peoples. Peru had made progress in defending indigenous peoples rights in general. As a means of overcoming social conflicts, progress had been achieved in dialogue and consultation with indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples did not totally reject mining activities but had noted that their rights had to be respected. Private companies were continually adopting a new philosophy about how indigenous peoples may be affected by their activities. There were challenges to be overcome. The recommendations of the Special Rapporteur were being carefully studied and would be given full consideration.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

European Union thanked the Special Rapporteur for the report, pointing out that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples relied on the commitment to implementation of its objectives. The European Union underscored the importance of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the study on disaster reduction and preparedness initiatives. Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, praised the work of the new Special Rapporteur and reminded of the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the protection of their rights as well as of the Expert Mechanism's work on this area. The Community looked forward to discussing the outcome of the World Conference on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without neglecting environmental issues affecting them. Denmark, speaking on behalf of Nordic countries, congratulated the Special Rapporteur and pledged to continue supporting her work in the protection of indigenous peoples' rights, asking about better ways to enhance their participation at the United Nations and further plans of the Special Rapporteur to follow up on work carried out by the former Special Rapporteur James Anaya. United States commended the work to ensure access to justice by indigenous youth, children and persons with disabilities, referring to the various tribal courts that assisted the United States Government in dealing with domestic violence against indigenous women and thanked the Special Rapporteur for the topic chosen for her first report to the Human Rights Council.

Mexico said that the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples was an important opportunity for States to restate their policies concerning the rights of indigenous peoples and for the United Nations system to engage in further activities in this regard. Mexico thanked the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for devoting its attention to understanding future challenges that indigenous peoples would face. Sierra Leone said that climate change policies had a great impact on the rights and lifestyles of indigenous peoples and for this reason their participation in the design of such policies was crucial. Some indigenous peoples continued to face discrimination and combat prejudice, and there was a need for political structures that better advanced their rights. Russia welcomed the Special Rapporteur on the right of indigenous peoples and hoped that she would approach the implementation of her mandate in a balanced manner. Concerning the issue of justice for indigenous peoples, Russia had given indigenous peoples particular judicial procedural status allowing their use of traditions and customs in court proceedings. Bolivia said that a number of Governments continued to be reluctant to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and agreed with the Special Rapporteur that one of the main barriers was that no steps had as yet been taken to ensure compensation for human rights violations against indigenous peoples. New Zealand welcomed the identification by the Special Rapporteur of the key challenges still confronting the indigenous peoples around the world, including in New Zealand which continued to work with the Maori communities to address socio-economic challenges they faced. New Zealand expressed continued support for the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Ukraine spoke about the violations of human rights of Crimean Tatars following the illegal annexation by Russia, including imprisonment, torture, confiscation of property, and limits on cultural and religious activities.

Venezuela welcomed the vision presented by the Special Rapporteur regarding the need to operationalize the international normative framework on indigenous communities. It was necessary to guarantee economic and social conditions to indigenous peoples in order to ensure the full exercise of the human rights of indigenous communities. Costa Rica said indigenous peoples continued to face many challenges in many parts of the world. It welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s overview of some of the obstacles that remained in all countries in which indigenous peoples lived, including their non-recognition, and pending work on reconciliation and compensation for earlier violations of their human rights.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that it had developed a new 2014-2017 strategic plan, with a focus on equity. UNICEF’s work on indigenous issues continued to be part of this strategy. It was clear that substantial challenges remained in reaching the most disadvantaged children, especially indigenous children. Australia had introduced the Indigenous Advancement Strategy to achieve real results in the key priority areas of getting indigenous children to school, adults into work, and building safe communities. The new approach provided greater flexibility and strengthened local indigenous leadership. Ecuador was proud of being an inter-cultural and pluri-ethnic country. Although indigenous peoples made up a major sector in its society, they were traditionally excluded from the social, economic and political life of the country. Ecuador was combating illiteracy and seeking to adopt affirmative action to ensure their participation in public service. El Salvador shared the view of the Special Rapporteur that the effective participation of indigenous peoples in discussions and events was crucial for concrete results and resolution of the most concrete human rights issues that continued to affect them. Only in recent years had major improvements been made in recognizing and enhancing the human rights of indigenous peoples in the country.

Remarks by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

VICTORIA TAULI-CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that the Human Rights Council had indeed come a long way in acknowledging challenges faced by indigenous peoples. She thanked States and the United Nations Children’s Fund for supporting her view that it was important to focus on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by indigenous peoples. It was important to include indigenous peoples in decision making processes, which would increase their sense of ownership over domestic regulations. She insisted on the necessity to particularly address the rights of indigenous women and children. The main efforts had to be made at the national level, she said. She would be focusing part of her work on monitoring the implementation of the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, and working on the elaboration of indicators.

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair-Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said that the study he was carrying out would be important for the development of mechanisms to better protect the rights of indigenous peoples. It was important that the United Nations, and in particular the Human Rights Council, supported States for the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He thanked Mexico and Guatemala for taking leadership on this issue.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Chile thanked former Special Rapporteur James Anaya for his important contributions. A solid legal foundation existed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in ILO Convention 189 and stakeholders needed to focus on implementation. Estonia noted that seven years after the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples was still a challenge, including in terms of their international participation. The Philippines said that numerous challenges remained in the fulfilment of indigenous peoples' rights, such as in disaster and risk reduction and preparedness initiatives, and asked the Special Rapporteur how cooperation between Governments and other stakeholders could be enhanced to effectively fulfil indigenous peoples' rights. Sri Lanka took note of the work of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and said it looked forward to sharing the outcome of the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples to be held in September, also with regard to ensuring they maintained their own heritage and traditional lifestyles.

Iraq said that religious and ethnic minorities were protected by the law and the new Constitution in Iraq for the first time recognized those minorities as constituent parts of the Iraqi population. Iraq was determined to protect its minorities from terrorist attacks and restore the enjoyment of their rights. China agreed that there were continuing challenges to the effective protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, who in many countries remained vulnerable groups, and expressed hope that the upcoming World Conference would bring lasting improvements to the situation of indigenous peoples. The World Conference on indigenous peoples was a fundamental step to foster greater interest and respect for indigenous communities and the Holy See hoped that it would set the minimum standards for their survival and dignity and promote their right to self-determination, land, territories and resources. The International Labour Organization agreed that the socio-economic disadvantages of the indigenous peoples must be addressed, such as the loss of land and natural resources, climate change, and vulnerability in the labour market and employment.

Thailand expressed its interest in issues focused on by the Special Rapporteur in her report. Although Thailand did not have any indigenous peoples, it was committed to respecting and protecting the rights of all, including ethnic minorities. Republic of Congo said that it had been committed since 2006 to undertake a national strategic process for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. This process had included indigenous populations and policies and measures for their access to employment, improvement of their living conditions and the creation of a network of indigenous peoples. In order to update national policies on the rights of indigenous peoples, a national consultation workshop was held in 2013 in Brazzaville, upon which new priorities were drawn. Morocco welcomed that the Special Rapporteur indicated in her report that a global answer to indigenous issues was needed. Governments barred primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. Morocco welcomed that the Special Rapporteur had decided to focus specifically on economic, social and cultural rights, and underlined the particular vulnerability of indigenous women and children.

Ireland supported the work of the Council on indigenous peoples, particularly with regards to the high level of discrimination and violations they faced. Ireland supported initiatives to address past wrongs through reconciliations processes. Ireland noted the concern that indigenous issues may be isolated, but believed the international community had to address their particular needs. Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment regarding the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. In Malaysia, the rights of indigenous peoples were guaranteed by law, and the Government continued its efforts to promote and protect these rights, with a focus on the efforts to eradicate poverty among indigenous populations and improve their access to education. Malaysia had at the same time given priority to preserving indigenous peoples’ traditional cultures. Brazil agreed that the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by all indigenous peoples was a priority. Ending poverty was urgent, and States had to do so in ways that fully respected indigenous peoples’ cultures.

International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights congratulated the new Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples for her appointment, noting its support for the recommendations of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the essential role of national human rights institutions in bridging the gap between international standards. Minority Rights Group noted the need for further work to ensure free, prior and informed consent by indigenous peoples, as laws were indeed clear, but their implementation was often unduly delayed or simply inappropriate, and indigenous peoples' concerns were not always heard. Food First Information and Action Network criticised the decision taken by the Brazilian Government to adequately demarcate the lands of some of its indigenous populations, causing land conflicts and the deprivation of some indigenous communities of their basic rights, and called on further supervision of indigenous peoples' economic, social and political rights.

Franciscans International said that the current predatory extractive model by transnational corporations was the greatest obstacle to the effective enjoyment of the rights of indigenous peoples and that mining practices had a disastrous impact on indigenous communities. World Environment and Resources Council said that indigenous lands and territories were increasingly sold to mining and other extractive industries; in Pakistan’s Baluchistan indigenous areas, human rights violations were at the peak and the situation of the indigenous peoples continued to deteriorate. The report on Canada was accurate, said Lawyer’s Right Watch Canada and noted that the aboriginal concerns merited attention at all levels of Government and required their direct participation in decision-making. Canada had made very little commitment to engage on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur in the said report. Indian Council of South America said it had decided not to participate in the World Conference because it was a high-level meeting of the General Assembly and did not leave room for the participation of indigenous peoples themselves.

International Institute for Peace said that over the years, it was seen that the rights of indigenous peoples had diminished. Particularly affected were the indigenous people of Gilgit Baltistan. The worldwide drive to extract mineral and fossil fuels, situated on the land of indigenous peoples, had resulted in widespread impacts on indigenous persons’ lives. International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism in a joint statement said that indigenous peoples in Nepal continued to be overrepresented in incarceration rates. A 2012 report showed that indigenous detainees were disproportionately subject to torture. VIVAT International in a joint statement said that the commitment to non-discrimination was one of the great pillars of the United Nations Charter. The Government of Indonesia continued its practice of discrimination against the Papuan people. They were being treated as second class citizens in their own land.

Closing Remarks by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

VICTORIA TAULI CORPUZ, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said that the participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making was a very pertinent question which would be discussed in the World Conference, while its Outcome Document would refer to it in several points. The Special Rapporteur would, in the course of her mandate, look into the possibility of crafting an international binding agreement which would limit the behaviour of transnational corporations in indigenous territories. Ms. Tauli-Corpuz invited non-governmental organizations which spoke about alleged violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples to send their comments in writing so that the mandate could prepare proper communication towards States concerned. The number of States which participated in this dialogue and shared their practice was an encouraging sign and the Special Rapporteur vowed to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor in the balanced discharge of her mandate.

ALBERT DETERVILLE, Chair Rapporteur of the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, in concluding remarks welcomed the call for greater participation of indigenous representatives at the Permanent Forum and the Expert Mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples, through the support of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples. States were encouraged to contribute to the Fund. Regarding a question on constructive cooperation and engagement, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provided a roadmap and it was essential that indigenous peoples were viewed as full and equal partners in national development processes so that their rights were fulfilled. Thanks and gratitude were extended to all Member States, the Council and representatives of indigenous popes and the United Nations system, for acknowledging the work of the members of the Mechanism.

Right of Reply

Russia, speaking in a right of reply in connection to the statement by Ukraine, said that Ukraine was once again trying to mislead international opinion. The Ukrainian authorities had not bothered to rehabilitate the Tatars from repression. Comprehensive measures were in place to ensure schooling in the Tatar language in Crimea. Regarding recognition by Russia of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people, Russia was working on that.
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