IASG Statement on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
At its annual meeting in September 2007, the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues adopted the following statement on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
The Inter Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues hails the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights on Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007. The Declaration sends out a clear message to the entire international community, reaffirming the human rights of the world’s indigenous peoples. This landmark action of the United Nations bears political, legal, symbolic and moral significance, as well as constituting a crucial opportunity for the UN System and other inter-governmental organizations to critically reflect upon their engagement with indigenous peoples’ issues and, according to Article 42 of the Declaration, to promote respect for and full application of its provisions and follow-up its effectiveness. The IASG pledges to advance the spirit and letter of the Declaration within our agencies’ mandates and to ensure that the Declaration becomes a living document throughout our work.
The IASG has held an extraordinary meeting before the seventh session of the UNPFII to discuss the impact of the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the work of the agencies and has invited OHCHR and ILO to organize such meeting. In preparation for that meeting, each agency was invited to prepare a paper with reflections on the implications of the adoption of the Declaration for its work.
Major areas for agency work already identified by the IASG include dissemination, capacity-building, programming, translation into indigenous languages and popularization of the Declaration
Statement of the Inter-Agency Support group on Indigenous Issues regarding Indigenous Peoples and the Millennium Development Goals
30 September and 1 October 2004
At its meeting on 30 September and 1 October 2004 in New York, the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues discussed the Millennium Development Goals as they pertain to indigenous peoples. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has strategically decided to devote the special theme of its 2005 session to indigenous peoples and the MDGs . Four Members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues were also present at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Support Group, namely Mr. Yuri Boychenko, Mr. Wilton Littlechild, Ms. Ida Nicolaisen and Mr. Parshuram Tamang.
The Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues considers that indigenous and tribal peoples have the right to benefit from the Millennium Development Goals, and from other goals and aspirations contained in the Millennium Declaration, to the same extent as all others. However, as the 2005 review of the implementation of the MDGs nears, it appears from the available evidence that indigenous and tribal peoples are lagging behind other parts of the population in the achievement of the goals in most, if not all, the countries in which they live, and indigenous and tribal women commonly face additional gender-based disadvantages and discrimination.
Detailed information and statistics describing their situation are often lacking, as was made clear during the International Workshop on Data Collection and Disaggregation for Indigenous Peoples held in January 2004 following approval by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Economic and Social Council (see report in E/CN.19/2004/2). Lack of adequate disaggregated data is a problem for the achievement of the MDGs. Nevertheless, the information available – both statistics that do exist and experience acquired in the course of our work – indicates that these peoples rank at the bottom of the social indicators in virtually every respect.
Concern has also been expressed that the effort to meet the targets laid down for the achievement of the MDGs could in fact have harmful effects on indigenous and tribal peoples, such as the acceleration of the loss of the lands and natural resources on which indigenous peoples’ livelihoods have traditionally depended or the displacement of indigenous peoples from those lands. Because the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples is often not reflected in statistics or is hidden by national averages, there is a concern that efforts to achieve the MDGs could in some cases have a negative impact on indigenous and tribal peoples, while national indicators apparently improve.
While the MDGs carry a potential for assessing the major problems faced by indigenous peoples, the MDGs and the indicators for their achievement do not necessarily capture the specificities of indigenous and tribal peoples and their visions. Efforts are needed at the national, regional and international levels to achieve the MDGs with the full participation of indigenous communities – women and men — and without interfering with their development paths and holistic understanding of their needs. Such efforts must take into account the multiple levels and sources of discrimination and exclusion that indigenous peoples face.
The Inter-Agency Support Group therefore makes the following recommendations:
- There is a need to take the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples fully into account in the efforts of the international system to achieve the MDGs and the other aspirations of the Millennium Declaration.
- The 2005 MDGs review should take explicitly into account the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples, when dealing with each and every goal, and not only on issues related to poverty.
- It is important for each intergovernmental organization to continue to develop its sources of disaggregated data and information on indigenous and tribal peoples.
- Agencies should collect and disseminate the pertinent information on a timely basis to demonstrate the specific situation of indigenous peoples in the process of implementing the MDGs.
- The United Nations system should increase its commitment and attention to the gender dimensions of indigenous issues in the MDG process.
- Each organization should ensure that indigenous and tribal peoples are consulted, including the participation of indigenous women and, as relevant, children and youth in formulating, implementing and assessing their programmes for the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the achievement of the MDGs.
- The CCA/UNDAF process should take full account of the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples; the role of the United Nations Country Teams in that respect is crucial.
- States should ensure the inclusion of indigenous issues in their efforts to achieve the MDGs, and in development efforts more generally, and should include the situation of indigenous peoples in reporting on the implementation of the Goals.
- States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations should promote national dialogues, including through the establishment of institutional frameworks, as appropriate, in order to bring together indigenous peoples’ perspectives and priorities for sustainable human development and their expectations regarding the MDGs. Indigenous peoples’ institutions and processes, where they exist, should be respected during these dialogues.
- Partnerships at the international and national level should increase efforts to support and build on indigenous peoples’ articulation of their path of development and their full participation in the decision-making processes. They should make every effort to provide adequate funding, technical and institutional support and training to assist those development efforts articulated by indigenous peoples towards achieving the MDGs.
The members of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues will support the efforts of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to analyze and comment on the ongoing review by the international system of the implementation of the MDGs. The Inter-Agency Support Group looks forward to the Millennium Campaign’s outreach to and engagement with indigenous communities.
The concerns expressed in this statement, and the situation of indigenous peoples in relation to development and the achievement of the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs should be brought to the attention of the Secretary-General and the Chief Executives Board (CEB).