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Indigenous Peoples still face severe challenges due to COVID-19

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 9 August 2021

GENEVA (6 August 2021) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, José Francisco Cali Tzay, issues the following statement to mark International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on 9 August:

"Today, as we mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, they are still facing severe challenges due to the COVID-19, more than a year after the outbreak of the pandemic. It is especially concerning that even recovery efforts are having negative impacts on indigenous peoples.

Economic recovery measures have prioritized and supported the expansion of business operations at the expense of indigenous peoples, their lands and the environment. Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for States to promote mega-projects without adequate consultation with indigenous peoples.

To avoid making the situation even worse, I urge States to involve representatives, leaders and traditional authorities of indigenous peoples, including those living in urban areas, in the design and implementation of recovery policies.

To mark the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples, I also would like to recognize the resilience of indigenous peoples and the exercise of their right to self-determination in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the hardships they face.

In order to effectively build back better than pre-pandemic times, when indigenous peoples already experienced multiple forms of racial, social and economic discrimination, I also urge States to step up their support for solutions led by indigenous peoples themselves and place indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination and land at the core of COVID-19 recovery efforts, in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."


* The expert: José Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what are known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name for the Council's independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

For further information and media enquiries, please contact Mr. José Parra (jose.parra@ohchr.org).