Minister Sukhai calls on countries to redouble efforts in advancing indigenous peoples’ rights on behalf of GRULAC

Although progress has been made globally in advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples, many challenges remain.

To this end, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) called on countries to renew their commitments to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai delivering remarks on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States

The minister made the remarks at the high-level event to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the outcome document of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

Please see full statement by Minister Sukhai

Thank you, Mr President,

I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean states.

In Latin America and the Caribbean today there are over 45 million people who identify as Indigenous Peoples, more than 826 distinct Indigenous Peoples. As such, our region´s roots are deeply indigenous as it is a large part of our identity.

At the outset, GRULAC expresses gratitude to you for convening this commemorative meeting which allows us to reflect on the progress made and challenges which remain since the adoption of the outcome document at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, held in 2014.

Many commitments were made by Member States in 2014.  Importantly, we reaffirmed then our support for the UNDRIP and the role of the United Nations in promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We also collectively reaffirmed our commitment to strategic partnerships with Indigenous Peoples to address the challenges which disproportionately affect them.

GRULAC acknowledges that progress has been made globally in advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including on land issues, access to appropriate platforms to assert their rights and preserve their culture, and putting in place the relevant international framework including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. 

However, progress has been uneven and many challenges still remain. Indigenous Peoples are amongst the poorest globally, representing just six per cent of the world’s population but accounting for 19 percent of the extreme poor.  Their life expectancy is up to 20 percent lower than that of non-Indigenous peoples. Disparities continue to exist in areas such as education, health and economic opportunities, and discrimination. Sexual harassment and violence, particularly for women and girls, remain a problem. Their close relationship and interdependence with the environment make them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Yet, Mr president, it is apt to underscore that the story of Indigenous Peoples is far more than the challenges and discrimination they face. It is also about the resilience they continue to demonstrate and their important contributions to sustainable development. GRULAC recognises the invaluable contributions of Indigenous Peoples in maintaining a balanced and resilient ecosystem. They are true guardians of the environment, protecting more than 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. They also possess critical ancestral knowledge and expertise on adaptation, mitigation and reducing climate risks.  It is therefore imperative that their land and resource rights are recognised and protected, and their cultural heritage preserved.

GRULAC believes that this meeting, held in the margins of the 23rd Session of the Permanent Forum is timely to renew the commitments made a decade ago in the UNDRIP and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’ outcome document. We must also begin to collectively look towards the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in 2027, as a key moment to take stock of its implementation and build on the outcomes of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

In this sense, let us redouble our efforts to surmount the challenges that remain, to commit the resources needed, to ensure the national policy and legislative frameworks are in place, and to always ensure that Indigenous Peoples are part of the decision-making processes at all levels, in matters which affect them. By doing so, we can guarantee a world where Indigenous Peoples thrive, their human rights are respected and protected, and their contributions are recognised.