(Check against delivery)Madam Chair,
I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and my own country Denmark together with Greenland.
To the Nordic countries, the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples have been and continue to be longstanding priorities. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was a milestone in recognizing the status and rights of Indigenous Peoples. Fulfilling the objectives of the UNDRIP requires continuous and consistent work both at the national and international level.
Let me take this opportunity to highlight a few issues of particular importance to the Nordic countries:
Firstly, the enhanced participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives in relevant UN fora. The Nordic countries consider it of utmost importance that indigenous peoples’ representatives and institutions have the possibility and space to exercise their right to participate in meetings of all relevant UN bodies on issues affecting them. This right should not be limited to only ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies.
To ensure effectiveness the participatory status of their representatives and institutions should be considered in detail. We underline the need for indigenous peoples to participate as such, and not as NGOs. The already existing categories do not seem to adequately reflect the unique features of indigenous peoples. We, therefore, look favourably at the creation of a new category for indigenous peoples.
In this regard, the Nordic countries actively contributed to the work of the four Indigenous Peoples Advisers of the President of the General Assembly on the consultation process with regard to indigenous peoples’ participation. The Nordic countries look forward to engaging in this tremendously important process and in reaching an inclusive outcome of the consultation process by the end of this current session of the General Assembly.
Secondly, it is important to highlight the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination and to be consulted in decision-making processes which may affect them directly. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that indigenous peoples have the right to be consulted on issues affecting their lands and territories in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent. This is also the case when it comes to conservation measures and measures taken to safeguarding biodiversity.
The Nordic countries would in this regard like to thank the Special Rapporteur, Vicki Tauli-Corpuz, for her report highlighting the strong correlation between safeguarding biodiversity and the effective implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as her consistent engagement to strengthen the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We firmly agree with the Special Rapporteur in terms of the importance of creating alliances between States, conservation organisations and indigenous peoples in pursuing common goals. And we welcome the recommendations both to States, conservation organisations, donors and UN agencies.
Thirdly, the Nordic countries welcome the UN Human Rights Council’s revision of the mandate for the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In this regard we also welcome the Council’s request for the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to undertake a global study on best practices and challenges related to the rights of indigenous peoples. We believe that this provides a welcome opportunity to strengthen dialogue between indigenous peoples and States, where specific challenges in implementing UNDRIP exist.
In conclusion, Madam chair,
Nine years have passed since the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly. As the 10th anniversary of the UNDRIP is approaching it is time that we work towards fulfilling the objectives of the UNDRIP both at the national and international levels. By ensuring that the human rights of indigenous peoples are protected. And by ensuring that indigenous peoples have the possibility and space to exercise their right to participate in meetings of all relevant UN bodies on all issues affecting them.