Gov’t committed to addressing Indigenous peoples issues- Minister Allicock tells UN forum
Georgetown GINA, May 16, 2016
Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock, and a team are representing Guyana at the 15th Session of the UN General Assembly Forum on Indigenous Issues, which is being held under the theme ‘Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution’.
During his address to the forum on Friday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Minister Allicock reaffirmed Government’s commitment to resolving issues affecting the Indigenous peoples, especially that of land and indigenous rights.
“Indigenous peoples’ rights, in particular as it relates to land, remain one of the Government’s key priorities as we promote an integrated hinterland development plan,” Minister Allicock said.
The Amerindian Land Titling Project is the main mechanism for the settlement of indigenous peoples’ land issues and in the interim, the Government has committed to the establishment of the Hinterland and Indigenous Land and Life Commission.
Minister Allicock noted that the forum is timely for the indigenous peoples, which comes after adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to end hunger, poverty, provide quality education, address climate change and promote peaceful and inclusive societies.
“The importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be underscored within the context of the opportunities that avail themselves for indigenous peoples. Noteworthy is the overarching theme of the reduction of inequalities, a goal that is integral for the survival of our traditions and customs… these are all laudable goals that are pertinent to the way of life that indigenous peoples seek to achieve,” Minister Allicock explained.
He further noted that this new agenda bears relevance to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a document that represents the will of indigenous peoples in the promotion of their rights of which, Guyana remains committed to upholding all of these international treaties.
At a national level, Guyana has made great progress towards addressing the needs of the indigenous peoples through several integrated development policies and programmes, application of statutory laws and operationalisation of partnerships.
At the policy level, the rights of indigenous peoples are provided for in the Amerindian Act of 2006; there is a Ministry solely dedicated to indigenous peoples’ affairs and indigenous peoples are represented in Parliament and at high levels in Government. For the first time in history, there are four indigenous ministers in Government.
In the education sector, the Hinterland Scholarship Programme continues to offer hinterland students’ access to further their education; the Hinterland Employment and Youth Services (HEYS) programme seeks to equip hinterland youths with skills to enable them to support sustainable village and community development. In the area of culture, there is the promotion of music, craft and art.
Notwithstanding these achievements, Minister Allicock noted that Government recognises that there is still more work to be done in areas of socio economic development and institutional strengthening
“As we move forward with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, I take this opportunity to reiterate the unwavering commitment of the Government of Guyana to its indigenous peoples. We will continue to ensure that our indigenous peoples are consulted in every aspect of our national development plans, especially in areas that are of vital concern. We will also work along with our partners at the national, regional and international levels to ensure that the concerns and development of indigenous peoples are addressed in a comprehensive and sustainable manner,” Minister Allicock said.
Ministerial Adviser Mervyn Williams, Programme Coordinator, Jude Da Silva and Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Joel Fredricks are also attending the forum which will conclude on May 20, 2016.