I have the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.
First of all, we wish to highlight again the historic adoption of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. While we regret there were final delays in approving the Declaration, we are pleased that after many years of intense negotiations, including the work of hundreds of representatives from governments and indigenous peoples, we have now brought that process into a meaningful end.
The rights of indigenous peoples are of utmost importance to all of us. This issue affects the lives of not only the indigenous peoples but the population as a whole.
The First International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which was initiated by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, had two major goals: to finalise a UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, and to establish a permanent forum for indigenous issues within the UN system. We have now been able to accomplish both of these aims, which should be considered a major achievement.
But the work must continue. The Second International Decade commenced in 2005. The adoption of the Declaration and the continuing work of the Permanent Forum will contribute to achieving its five main objectives. Rights of indigenous peoples worldwide are placed high on the international agenda - now it is up to us to move forward and to make these commitments a reality.
In this regard we would like to emphasize the following issues:
- First of all we continue to underscore the central role of the Permanent Forum in the follow-up of the Second Decade.
- Further, we consider important the work already done with the aim to ensure that issues relating to indigenous peoples, including the recommendations of the Permanent Forum, be better taken into account in the implementation processes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the follow-up to major UN Conferences. However, the possibilities of indigenous peoples to contribute to and have an impact on the outcomes of the various UN processes should still be further strengthened. According to the recent follow up on the MDGs the input and participation of indigenous peoples themselves in the design, implementation and monitoring of the policy interventions remains inadequate. The work needs to be continued on elaborating further how the human rights-based approach to development can be operationalized for indigenous peoples and how to use the framework to analyse and evaluate the implementation of the MDGs in that regard.
- We also wish to stress today that despite their enormous assets and contribution to society, indigenous women still suffer from multiple discrimination, both as women and as indigenous individuals. They are subjected for example to extreme poverty, trafficking, illiteracy, non-existent or poor health care and to violence in the private and the public sphere. This violence is exacerbated when indigenous communities find themselves in the midst of conflict and women become the target of violence with political motives. The human rights of indigenous women and their inclusion must continue to be in our focus.
Finally, Mr. Chairperson,
The Nordic countries wish to reiterate our strong support to the Permanent Forum, and to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We warmly welcome the continuation of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur by the Human Rights Council this September. We would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Chairperson of the Forum, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, for her able and efficient leadership, and the Special Rapporteur, Mr Rodolfo Stavenhagen, for his tireless efforts to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples.
I thank you Mr. Chairperson