Governments Should Preserve The Fundamental Rights Of Indigenous People

Indigenous peoples and groups worldwide are experiencing violent human rights violations. They are being increasingly marginalised as land is being taken away from them and their access to basic rights such as health and education is shrinking. Many of them are being excluded from participating in policy decisions that affect them, thus deprived from their rights to free, prior and informed consent. At the core of these violations against indigenous peoples is the denial of self-determination, which has been acknowledged as essential to the exercise of all other human rights.

Every year, the United Nations holds the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which offers indigenous peoples and groups the opportunity to voice their concerns with member states. This year’s forum, “Indigenous Peoples: Conflict, Peace, and Resolution,” held from May 9-20, addressed the participation of indigenous people representatives and institutions in UN meetings in which issues that affect them are being discussed.

On the second day of the Foum, May 10th, speakers gathered to take stock of progress made in the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In this context, Franciscans International, Vivat International, and Passionists International delivered an oral statement, noting that mining activities in Indonesia, Brazil and the Philippines had not only been destructive for the environment, but had also marginalized and excluded indigenous peoples from their territories. Furthermore, land-grabbing had allowed for the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and West Papua, Indonesia, both by transnational and national corporations through concessions provided by national and local governments, in violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent. The statement also highlighted the violation of the human rights of activists, environmentalists and human rights defenders who had been targeted and subjected to intimidation.

Many other participants pointed to government and business actions that had resulted in the plundering and destruction of natural resources. Speakers urged the Forum to monitor and ensure the implementation of the Declaration and called on governments to repeal oppressive laws and practices that encroached on the fundamental rights of indigenous communities and peoples.