Statement by Vice President of the Human Rights Council, H.E. Ramón Alberto Morales at the 9th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


11 July 2016

Monday, 11 July 2016
Palais des Nations, Room XX

Mr. Chairperson,
Distinguished members of the Expert Mechanism,
Distinguished representatives of indigenous peoples and governments,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure and honour that I open the ninth session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I would like to welcome all the members of the Expert Mechanism, including the new member Ms. Erika Yamada, as well as the different delegations attending the session as observers, including national human rights institutions. I would also like to welcome the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and the representative of the Board of Trustees of the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Binota Dhamai.

The participation of and partnership with indigenous peoples in United Nations processes is essential in advancing the rights of indigenous peoples.

In this regard, I would like to recognize the participation of 20 of their representatives at this session, and to thank the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples for helping make their presence possible. On behalf of the Human Rights Council, I would also like to thank the States that have supported the Fund.

Distinguished participants,

The Human Rights Council is well aware of the important work undertaken by the Expert Mechanism and considers carefully the proposals that it submits to its consideration. This is reflected in the thematic paper titled “Right to Health and Challenges Indigenous People Face”, on which you will be making a decision during the present session. We also appreciate the most recent studies and advice of the Expert Mechanism on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples with respect to their cultural heritage.

Following another of the proposals from your eighth session, the Council will hold at its thirty-third session a half-day panel discussion on the causes and consequences of violence against indigenous women and girls. The Council also encouraged States to give due consideration to the rights of indigenous peoples in fulfilling the commitments undertaken in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the elaboration of national programmes.

Although the Council usually addresses the rights of indigenous peoples in its September session, I am pleased to inform you that in our 32nd session, which ended a few days ago, the Council adopted a resolution on preventing and responding to violence against women and girls, including indigenous women and girls. We hope that this resolution will inform the upcoming panel on this theme at our 33rd session.

We are approaching the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One of the challenges has been the implementation of our objectives, and to this purpose the Council has requested the Expert Mechanism to continue its survey of best practices with regard to measures and strategies for putting into full action. I look forward to the presentation of the updated results of the survey at the 33rd session. I would also like to thank all States, indigenous peoples and other partners and stakeholders who have contributed to it.

As you know, the Council has the important task of reviewing the mandate of the Expert Mechanism, and this leads me to thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for organizing last April the Expert Workshop on the Review of the Expert Mechanism’s Mandate. This workshop brought together representatives of Member States, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. The report will be a very useful tool as the Council continues to move forward on the mandate review.  

The ongoing process will result in further improving the mandate of the Expert Mechanism in order to better implement the objectives of the Declaration at the national and local level. Our commitment to carrying out the review in close consultation with indigenous peoples remains strong, and I would like to encourage all stakeholders to continue working on the mandate review in a spirit of cooperation and transparent dialogue.

Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to bring to the attention the theme of your study for this year. Indigenous peoples in all regions of the world face significant challenges springing from widespread structural inequalities that impact multiple rights, including the right to health, children being in a particularly vulnerable situation. In addressing this issue, however, we must look at the broader picture of the underlying roots of discrimination and of the lack of understanding of the social and cultural situations that indigenous peoples frequently face in accessing health services. It is imperative that we continue struggling to close existing gaps between national populations; it is the only way to promote true respect for Human Rights and attain social peace.  

I wish you all a very successful deliberation on this topic and am looking forward to the continuing cooperation between the Human Rights Council and this Expert Mechanism.

Thank you.