STATEMENT   BY   Honourable Sydney Allicock, MP Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs   to the Fifteenth Session of the UN General Assembly Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues       New York   May 13, 2016

 

(Speaking in Macushi)

Mayaramang yumba yî mî,

Pera tashamba wai seri seri

Greetings my relations, I am very happy to be here

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen

 

  1. As this is the first time I address this Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, allow me to congratulate you on the assumption as Chair of its 15th

 

  1. This is indeed an opportune moment for indigenous peoples coming after the historic adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We therefore gather to examine the opportunities that are afforded to us going forward for the next 15 years. In this regard, the theme for this session “Indigenous peoples: conflict, peace and resolution” is quite timely.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Ending hunger, poverty, providing quality education, addressing climate change and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies are all laudable goals that are pertinent to the way of life that indigenous peoples seek to achieve.

 

  1. The new agenda bears relevance to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document that represents the will of indigenous peoples in the promotion of their rights within different social, cultural, political and economic contexts.
  2. At the international level, Guyana remains committed to upholding all of its international treaty obligations that ensure the rights of all people, including our indigenous population.

 

  1. At a national level, Guyana has made great progress to address the needs of our indigenous peoples through several integrated development policies and programmes, application of statutory laws and operationalization of partnerships. National responses are built upon existing sustainable development strategies as reflected in the UNDRIP and the 2030 Agenda. At the policy level, the rights of indigenous peoples are guaranteed in the Constitution of Guyana and provided for in the Amerindian Act of 2006. Guyana has established a Ministry solely dedicated to indigenous peoples’ affairs and indigenous peoples are represented in Parliament and at high levels in Government. Reflecting Government’s commitment to indigenous peoples and issues, there are today four indigenous ministers in our current administration, the highest number in our history.

 

  1. Chairman, Indigenous peoples’ rights remain one of the Government’s focal points as it advances a development agenda and in this regard, the Government has made great strides in addressing various issues relating to the indigenous peoples of Guyana.

 

  1. 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. 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. We remain committed to resolving these issues within the framework of national law and also within acceptable international standards.
  2. There has also been significant progress in other areas relating to indigenous development. In the education sector, the Hinterland Scholarship Programme offers hinterland students access to further their education. The eventual delivery of the early formative education of our indigenous children using their first language is also envisaged. The Hinterland Employment and Youth Services Programme seeks to equip hinterland, youth ages 16 – 35 years, with relevant skills to enable them to support sustainable village and community development. In the area of culture, we seek to promote and preserve permanent records of our indigenous music, craft, art and in general, our indigenous culture, customs and practices for future generations.

 

  1. Notwithstanding these achievements, the Government recognizes that there is still more work to be done in areas of socio economic development and institutional strengthening in areas such as community development and project management. Paramount is the conflict of national development plans with the priorities of the indigenous communities, particularly in their rights to land and resources. The Government of Guyana remains committed to working with our indigenous peoples for a comprehensive solution to these outstanding issues.

 

  1. Finally, 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.

 

(Speaking in Macushi)

Twin mûri sima murikui eni      –  In unity there is strength.

 

  1. I wish this Forum every success in its deliberations.

I thank you.

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