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Voices of indigenous peoples must be heard on issues affecting them, UN rights body told

17 September 2014 – The voices of indigenous peoples must be effectively heard and they must be consulted on issues that affect them, including rights to land and resources, the United Nations Human Rights Council heard today.

“Although there is, at both the international and domestic levels, a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, there are still numerous obstacles preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their human rights,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries who constitute 15 per cent of the world's poor and about one third of the 900 million extremely poor rural people. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

Indigenous peoples are also among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, with many of them struggling to remain on their lands and retain the right to their natural resources, while others have long since been removed from their lands, denied their languages and traditional ways.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz noted that among the barriers preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their rights is the absence of steps towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples and redress for past violation of their human rights.

Linked with reconciliation yet to be completed, she said, is the ongoing negative perception of indigenous peoples among the broader societies in which they live, including within governments.

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Last modified on Thursday, 18 September 2014 10:24

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